From Library Journal
This second collection of Adler's papers precedes the material found in the previous collection (Stella Adler on Ibsen, Strindberg and Chekov, LJ 4/15/99), ending as she begins text analysis. Here Kissel (David Merrick) has taken tapes, transcriptions, notebooks, and other sources to reconstruct an acting course in 22 lessons. What results is Adler at her strongest. Coming from a theatrical family and having studied with Stanislavsky, she became an old-fashioned autocratic teacher determined to pass on the best that she knows. She was certainly the best of her generation. The lessons are graduated from very basic matters to quite complex issues of textual analysis and decorum. Though mostly monologs, they include enough exercises and student responses to get the flavor of Adler's work. Some themes run through these classes: American culture is bankrupt, Lee Strasberg got Stanislavsky wrong, and class and its formality must be learned in order to do major plays through the realist period. This is required reading for anyone interested in theater practice.DThomas E. Luddy, Salem State Coll., MA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
When Adler died in 1992, the theater lost a great teacher, whose depth of experience alone made her invaluable. Daughter of one of the greats of Yiddish theater, Jacob Adler, she studied with Stanislavski, was a founder of the Group Theater and appeared in many of its seminal productions, married the brilliant critic Harold Clurman (they later divorced), and after the Group Theater folded, founded an acting school that rivaled Lee Strasberg's. But she never wrote a book about her theories and techniques. This collection, culled from sound recordings of her at work, at least re-creates the feel of her classes. Editor Kissel deserves great credit for shaping what could have been a chaotic collage of pronouncements into a coherent whole. The book's 22 lively chapters detail Adler's techniques for preparing her students for a life on the stage. Theater aficionados will appreciate Adler's discussion of modern plays and her belief that acting is a rare, privileged profession, and young actors will benefit from the many acting exercises sprinkled throughout the text. Jack Helbig
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