Method Acting In The LA Times

I have gotten a lot of nice messages today from folks who read the Charles McNulty story on the cover f the Arts Section in the Sunday LA Times. They ran it with a huge half-page picture of my dad on the cover over the headline “SO METHODICAL,” and on the interior another full page with a picture of me and my mom in front of the school with the headline “TECHNIQUE STANDS THE TEST OF TIME.”  Thanks to those of you who sent me notes – double thanks to those of you who actually read past the headlines before sending me the note!

Lee Strasberg, photographed in L.A. in 1978, perfected the best-known American adaptation of the Stanislavsky "system" commonly grouped together as the Method. (Los Angeles Times)

It is an interesting experience to talk about our work. Of course as a journalist McNulty is interested in finding drama. News needs either “New” or “Conflict” so they have to search for one or the other to make the article interesting. That said, your best bet to understand our work is to study it, use it, live with it. We work better than we talk.

People like to talk about theories of acting. But we are not theoretical. My father said our work is not a theory because a theory is something which has not yet been proven. So far, no interview has ever been able to capture that element in our training. How do you explain or describe the change in your life when you gain knowledge of yourself? When you learn discipline? When you learn a new skill? These moments are not accomplished by sitting around talking. The sky does not open up, and the angels don’t sing (usually, at least).

The power of training as an actor – or as anything else for that matter – is the momentum of countless hours spent getting better. How do you capture the grandeur of THAT in a tape recorder?

You need human material to paint that picture…. Hmmmm… Maybe we need a Method movie. 😉

Published in: on November 23, 2009 at 5:43 pm  Comments (2)  
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  1. […] David Strasberg, son of Lee and the man who now runs the institute, has been quick to defend its work on his blog. He argues that no single article can capture the complex and lengthy process of actor training: […]

  2. David,
    I greatly admire this new energy in raising the profile of your father’s work. The combination of what he was intelligent enough to preserve and insightful enough to expand has, I think, created a breadth to our understanding of acting that too few seem capable of dealing with all at once.
    Often I come across a practitioner who, in his ignorance, has dismissed what he feels Lee was about. Yet he will then go on to complain of an acting problem that is absolutely contained within what Lee would practice!
    You must keep it up. There are lessons in his oft-misunderstood practice that are so valuable and universal. Lee himself would lament over how only in acting – not helped by its here-one-moment-gone-the-next nature – does knowledge get lost. Or, worse yet, go backwards. There are very few fields in which we would tolerate that nowadays. I can’t help but feel that’s worth considering within the context of general humanity. Our knowledge of acting – in the sense of living truthfully within imaginary circumstances – is increasingly confused and split while everything else goes forward at the rate of knots?! That’s insane. We’re languishing WAY behind. It’s embarrassing, to be honest – especially in a society that sees our interest in acting as a disguise for our lust for money and fame. We need to communicate what acting IS, what it INVOLVES – so that RESPECT is once again given to those who devote themselves to pursuing it, rather than idolization to those beautiful few with the right contacts.
    It is worthy. And noble. It is pure, when dealt with in a certain spirit. And there are few who believed that more, or committed themselves more to making that a reality, than your pop.
    Awesome stuff. Great job.

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