Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Stella Adler on America's Master Playwrights: Eugene O'Neill, Thornton Wilder, Clifford Odets, William Saroyan, Tennessee Williams, William Inge, Arthur Miller, Edward Albee
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on September 2, 2012
Stella Adler was a force in the American theater, a larger than life actress, acting coach, the only American actress to have studied with Stanislavski, the mentor of Marlon Brando, the wife of Harold Clurman. This book, edited from the transcripts of lectures she gave to students in California, is more than a series of lessons on how to perform the plays of America's greatest playwrights--O'Neill, Miller, Williams, Inge, Odets and Albee--it is also an invaluable history book of a country's ideals and dreams, mistakes and suppressions, and how they found expression through the handful of dramatists who managed somehow to have their voices heard on the commercial stage of Broadway. Adler contends that to gain the American dream of fame and success a writer or an actor must know his or her country's history: when and why these classic plays were written, who were the men who had the courage to speak out, and how they reflected their moment in American time. She encourages her student actors to be big, big as the country, to make the theater a forum for unpleasant truths rather than escapism and mindless entertainment, In the course of these talks, Stella is never too modest to remind you how bright, talented, sexy and irresistible she was; how he knew everyone who was anyone, and what she said to them and they said to her. Those who are not actors will delight in the backstage gossip, and the sense of excitement all those bright young people of her generation felt because they sincerely believed that their voices, their theater, would change the world. Reading the book, you are left with the feeling that once upon a time giants walked, if not the earth, at least on that stretch of New York City where plays were performed and people paid to learn about themselves. Those days may be over. Those who remember them or wish for their return will find no better guide book to America's golden age of theater than this amazing document of a life fully lived.
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on September 21, 2012
Stella Adler takes play readers, actors and directors on an inspiring and eye-opening journey of exploration. She examines the words the playwrights use to tell their story, strips them of superficiality by insisting that they be understood in the context of the social order and the uneasy place of individuals in that order. Her warnings that mere recitation of the words, without an understanding of the dynamics underlying the life of the individuals expressing them, deprives the play of the passions that should animate the words. Whether one is an actor or reader, Adler's emphasis on understanding the turbulence behind the words leads to rewarding insights.
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on March 2, 2013
I love this book. The NY Times review by Peter Bogdanovich was right on. You can pick up this book and open it anywhere on any of the American Masters she discusses and be totally captivated. She explains the context of the culture these men were writing in and explains their work in a totally clear and compassionate understanding of Americans at that time.
This book is amazing for any American Theater lover or for the merely curious about what made O'Neill. Tennessee Williams, et.al so great. A real eye opener, as they say. If you have a library, this book should be in it.
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on February 28, 2013
I have seldom read a book that brought such an equal measure of enjoyment and learning. Ms. Adler's book provides the equivalent of a college semester of lectures and research on America's master playwrights. But the verve, perception, and personality in the words provide the real joy. She not only presents the essence of the playwrights' works; because she believes that an actor's knowledge of the social and political environment in which the plays take place is the absolute core of good acting, she provides invaluable historical nuggets on each of the eras covered in the plays.

Stella Adler proves she is truly one of a kind. Her insights on acting, for this layman on the subject, adds a unique dimension that draws the reader in and keeps him enthralled. The advice of this native Southerner: Want to read one of the best, concise synopses ever written of what the term "Southern culture" really means? Forget W.J. Cash's seminal work, "The Mind of the South." Read Stella Adler's review of Tennessee William's "Summer and Smoke" in this book.

Anyone who reads this book will come away a Stella Adler fan, her name high on the list of "people I wish I had known." No wonder a generation of America's leading actors, led by Marlon Brando, virtually worshiped her. She was a national treasure, and the two books preserving her lectures are, too.
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on February 18, 2013
Stella Adler's lectures on Script Analysis were legendary. To have these transcriptions is a unique gift, not just to the Acting community, but to artists and thinkers everywhere. Miss Adler's analyses of these American playwrights gives the reader a road into the depth that these plays deserve.
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on April 10, 2016
This is a perfect follow-up to the first volume on Ibsen, Strindberg and Chekhov. There was and will never be another Stella Adler. Her voice, in each of these brilliant books, comes through quite strongly. They have changed my thinking in the most wondrous way. She proves that she is simply one of the greatest acting teachers of our time, and unrivaled in terms of script analysis. Barry Paris and Victoria Wilson deserve a lot of praise for putting these together so well. Stella Adler was epic. A force of nature and a powerful teacher. Absolutely thrilling!!!
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on October 17, 2012
She gives you great analysis of many well known plays. I'm a writer, not an actor and found her insights very valuable.
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on November 7, 2015
It is a masterful work by remarkable woman, who had deep appreciation and profound understanding of the world of actors and the master American playwrights of the 20th Century that have forever enrich our lives.
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on February 1, 2013
Adler's book exceeds all expectations. What an incredible talent who was so generous to share her knowledge and experiences with anyone willing to watch and listen. And now read. Treat yourself to going on this wonderful adventure with her.
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on December 19, 2012
Stella Adler explains her perspective of the best of American theater in the 20th Century. There is more in her explanations of the playwriter's vision for his play than was apparent to me. It is somewhat akin to hearing an actor who can articulate the choices he must make to play Shakespeare coherently. It is not on the page, but in the understanding of the time and situation - historical, emotional, familial, societal, etc. Read it. She does a much better job than I ever could. I needed to take breaks from it because some of it is very intense.
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