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Stella Adler on Ibsen, Strindberg, and Chekhov

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In her long-awaited book, the legendary acting teacher Stella Adler gives us her extraordinary insights into the work of Henrik Ibsen ("The creation of the modern theater took a genius like Ibsen. . .Miller and Odets, Inge and O'Neill, Williams and Shaw, swallowed the whole of him"), August Strindberg ("He understood and predicted the forces that would break in our lives"), and Anton Chekhov ("Chekhov doesn't want a play, he wants what happens in life. In life, people don't usually kill each other. They talk").

Through the plays of these masters, Adler discusses the arts of playwriting and script interpretation ("There are two aspects of the theater. One belongs to the author and the other to the actor. The actor thinks it all belongs to the author. . .The curtain goes up and all he knows are the lines. . .It is not enough. . .Script interpretation is your profession").

She looks into aspects of society and class, and into our cultural past, as well as the evolution of the
modern spirit ("The actor learns from Ibsen what is modern in the modern theater. There are no villains, no heroes. Ibsen understands, more than anything, there is more than one truth").

Stella Adler--daughter of Jacob Adler, who was universally acknowledged to be the greatest actor
of the Yiddish theater, and herself a disciple of Stanislavsky--examines the role of the actor and brings to life the plays from which all modern theater derives: Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, The Master Builder, An Enemy of the People, and A Doll's House; Strindberg's Miss Julie and The Father; Chekhov's The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, The Cherry Orchard, and Three Sisters ("Masha is the sister who is the mystery. You cannot reach her. You cannot reach the artist. There is no logical way. Keep her in a special pocket of feelings that are complex and different").

Adler discusses the ideas behind these plays and explores the world of the playwrights and the
history--both familial and cultural--that informed their work. She illumines not only the dramatic essence of each play but its subtext as well, continually asking questions that deepen one's understanding of the work and of the human spirit.

Adler's book, brilliantly edited by Barry Paris, puts her famous lectures into print for the first time.

From the Hardcover edition.

Publishers Weekly Review

Mar 01, 1999 – While this posthumous collection of lectures by one of the great acting teachers of the century will be of enormous interest to actors, it will be obvious to others that Adler's primary gift was as a vibrant performer, not as a critical writer. Her previous book, Techniques of Acting, outlining her approach to the craft, has been a standard text since its publication in 1988. Here, Paris presents Adler's thoughts on three of the most influential playwrights of the modern theater. Adler is at her best discussing the social contexts of Ibsen, Strindberg and Chekhov, exploring the cultures that made each writer who he was. She was a lively and dynamic speaker, and one can sense how exciting her presence must have been. Unfortunately, some of the excitement, and the effectiveness, is lost in the transcription. For instance, the statement "I don't know if he went to Greece, but if he did, you can bet he spent more than two days" sounds clunky and amateurish on the page, although it could be illustrative and amusing in a talk. Adler's forthright opinions about theater, though, are still provocative: "all serious playwrights now fall into the category of what we call modern realism." What would Beckett say to that? Adler has inspired generations of American actors to care deeply about the magnificent plays she discusses here; this book will allow generations to come the opportunity to benefit from a great teacher's wisdom.
Stella Adler on Ibsen, Strindberg, and Chekhov
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  • $13.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Performing Arts
  • Published: Mar 23, 1999
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Random House, LLC
  • Print Length: 352 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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