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Accidentally on Purpose: Reflections on Life, Acting and the Nine Natural Laws of Creativity (Applause Books) Hardcover – April 1, 2000


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The author is the son of Lee Strasberg (a major force in the history of the Actors Studio), brother of Susan (the actress) and a would-be theater guru in his own right. His book is a combination autobiography ("My parents were too busy with their own dreams of success... for me") and a how-to guide to creative acting, his answer to his father's famous "Method," which, he says, only taught actors to think like actors. Lee Strasberg is presented as a selfish martinet who came alive only at the Studio. The author's mother is seen as a neurotic who sacrificed her independence for, first, her husband, then, for Marilyn Monroe. Monroe appears briefly (she gave the author a car when he was 18) as do?even more briefly?Franchot Tone (whom the author would have preferred as a father), John Garfield, Al Pacino, Geraldine Page and various Actors Studio hangers-on. Strasberg also touches on his two marriages, his work at the Film Board of Canada, his acting schools in France and Spain, his experiments with LSD and his Reichian therapy. In much greater detail, he reprises scenes he performed in class at the Studio and?with less enthusiasm?plays presented by the Studio theater company in the early 1960s and by his own company, The Real Stage, in the late '70s. This highly egocentric performance ends with a discussion of the "natural laws of creativity," which owe a lot to Wilhelm Reich. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This impressionistic collage includes memories of Lee Strasberg, John's father; an autobiography of the struggle to find a life and a career; an artistic/philosophical manifesto ("What I have learned from the theater"); and an acting text ("Here's how to do"). On every page, the book circles through all these elements without much transition or any apparent structure. It is in desperate need of an editor to sort it out. Lee Strasberg's shadow looms over it like a ghost who has not been sufficiently laid to rest. The result is too emotionally charged to work as an insider's view of the Actor's Studio. There may be a good book in this, and there is certainly an important book in John Strasberg. But this is not it. Of interest solely to theater scholars.?Thomas E. Luddy, Salem State Coll., Mass.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 258 pages
  • Publisher: Applause Theatre & Cinema Books (April 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557831963
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557831965
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,001,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By richard monaco on October 2, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Anybody who got his first car as a kid from Marilyn Monroe is worth paying attention to. And this man became one of the top acting teachers and coaches of his time. Well worth reading and learning from. Check this book out.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By B. Phillips on June 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
John Strasberg's courageous and sensitive memoir is a must-read. It moved me deeply and elucidated his technique, insofar as a book can describe an acting technique. Highly recommended.
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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful By drpsp on June 1, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book to solve the mystery of the 1964 Broadway production of Chekhov's "Three Sisters," since John Strasberg knew about it firsthand. The mystery is that a later video shows a slightly different cast,dropping out Shirley Knight, for example, and adding Sandy Dennis: was this a video of the 1965 London production at the Aldwych, or is it a version filmed in New York with the slightly different cast from the opening? The video's credits do not make this clear. When I read the relevant pages in Strasberg's book, I thought he told me the answer, but another book on the same topic says something slightly different. About the history and nature of both productions, both authors seem to agree, but I still don't know for sure where or when this film was made. (I wanted to know, because I saw the play on Broadway, with Geraldine Page, who both opened and is in the film, but can't remember the rest of the cast. My old playbill's lost. Did I see Shirley Knight or did I see Sandy Dennis? etc. etc.) Equally authoritative sources muddy the waters. As for the rest of the book, it's talkative, repetitive, and somewhat moralizing. I wouldn't fault it for this but take it for what it is: an interesting read on the people, places, work, and time by someone who was there.
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