Interesting add on to the recent LA Times piece

I thought I would share this blog post by Charles McNulty, who wrote the LA Times article I posted recently.

Charles clearly love Estelle Parsons, featuring a picture of her in the article – and well he should. She is amazing in August: Osage County.

Still, I would rather talk about acing than about press, so over this next week I think we can talk a bit more about Stanislavsky. I get questions from actors all the time asking for clarification on Stanislavsky’s techniques, or to explain how we differ from him. It is probably time to delve into that area. Stay tuned!

-David Lee Strasberg

Published in: on December 3, 2009 at 1:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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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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Those who CAN DO, Teach!

Here is a nice little reel of clips from some of my dad’s films. This series includes material from The Godfather: Part II, of course, where he plays Jewish mobster Hyman Roth (inspired by real life mobster Meyer Lansky). It also has a scene from one of my favorite films Going In Style – a funny and warm movie with George Burns and Art Carney. he does some wonderful comic work in this one. It also has a scene from And Justice For All with Al Pacino. All in all, it is a great taste of my dad’s film work. Godfather II was his first film role, and he had been teaching, not acting, for decades. Pretty amazing.

Coming up, I want to share a few projects that we shothere in LA recently with our students. For those of you who can’t help yourself, you can jump to our Youtube channel and see them in advance of me posting them here.

Published in: on November 20, 2009 at 11:47 am  Leave a Comment  
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Michael Imperioli Talks at Strasberg

As promised, here is some of the footage of Michael Imperioli’s talk at Strasberg. Video hosting the entire talk proved less than practical, but here is his opening that I think is very enlightening. You get a strong sense of him and his personality as well as a feel for how much his time at Strasberg means to him. Those of you who have done our exercises may get particular enjoyment from him and his first reaction to the Relaxation exercise. More to come as we get the students’ questions and his answers uploaded. Enjoy!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Published in: on November 18, 2009 at 12:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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40 Years of Making Legends | NBC Los Angeles

Here is the KNBC piece that aired yesterday. I must say that I really enjoyed meeting and speaking with Cary Berglund. Not only was he friendly and engaging, but he made it very easy to work. You can tell when someone is a real professional, and Cary was very much in his element. All in all, I had a wonderful time shooting the piece.

Since embedding the video is harder than I thought, follow the link and let me know what you think.

Published in: on November 11, 2009 at 12:47 pm  Comments (1)  
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Michael Imperioli – WPIX

See if this video of Michael Imperioli works better.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Michael Imperioli – WPIX“, posted with vodpod


Published in: on November 11, 2009 at 9:40 am  Leave a Comment  
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Michael Imperioli returns to Strasberg

Former Strasberg student Michael Imperioli returned to Strasberg for an informal talk with our students in NYC. He was great – genuine and articulate. WPIX in NY did a segment on it. Michael also agreed to let us put the entire discussion on-line. I will give you all a link as soon as we put it up. For now enjoy this shorter piece.

Published in: on November 10, 2009 at 12:55 pm  Comments (1)  
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KNBC interview coming online soon

For those in Los Angeles, keep your eye out for an interview my mother and I did with Cary Berglund for KNBC-TV that will be airing on Channel 4 tomorrow, Tuesday, November 10th in the 5.00pm news hour.

I was teaching a group of students while Cary watched – a delightful man who was very interested in how our students were working. As soon as I can get it online, I will post it here.

Published in: on November 9, 2009 at 4:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Lots going on!

There is so much going on at the school right now I have had little time to blog. I was in New York and the place was humming. Students who had made it through the auditions were planning their production work for next fall already.

Oscar-winner Marcia Gay Harden returned to the Institute to speak with our students. She had the whole audience enthralled. All in all, the energy in NY is like no other place on earth. It is a rush every time I am there (and pretty good all-you-can-eat Sushi doesn’t hurt either!).

Here in LA, there is also plenty going on. I will be teaching as part of a Summer Intensive program for 6 weeks, starting July 13 and going through August 21- I am going to work my actors really hard and shake it up. You can’t get too complacent as an actor – or a human being for that matter.

Plus, we just finished casting for a short film project, “Past Meets Present,” that I am developing with Sasha Krane here at the Institute. He and I will be shooting in two weeks with the help of Conor Gass, and Herb Berraza (our in house production SWAT team). We are delaying production in order to finish a photo shoot that will be happening these next two weekends, but while we wait, Sasha and I are planning the next short in the pipeline.When I have some clips to share, I will post them here and you will see our actors at work.

Speaking of actors at work, I will be judging on a panel for my friends at ActorCast. This is one of the biggest things you have probably never heard of. They run the actor database system for some 90% of the major studio TV & Film casting. That is a big deal. What that means for an actor is that they are THE best of the actor sites because the 500 casting directors who tap into the database daily are the ones who run the casting world. Strasberg students can host there for free, but others should check it out as well. I will post more after I review the actors who submitted their audition reels for a special showcase.

On top of that, we are preparing for a screening of one of our student’s short films – a half hour piece that was developed in our screenwriting class and shot over the last semester. I will provide details of that as well as we get a little closer.

All that to say that I have not left the blogosphere. There is lots in process, so that means there should be plenty to talk about over the next few months. Of course, I am still here to talk acting and answer questions about anything. If you have a question, don’t be shy. We can talk Strasberg, Stanislavsky, Mamet (if you are brave), or Meisner (or sushi!).

Be brave. Bring your questions.

Published in: on May 6, 2009 at 8:25 pm  Comments (1)  
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What is Method Acting: A straight answer

Most actors are afraid to admit that they don’t really know what Method Acting is. They don’t want to look stupid so they don’t ask.

But they should.

Method Acting is the search to find  a moment of actual experience in your acting – a moment of living – as opposed to the outward appearance of living. An actor who does our work actually experiences something when they act, rather than looking like they are experiencing something.

Stanislavsky committed his life to this pursuit of truth in acting, what he called “Perezhivanie.” Lee Strasberg, my father, picked up the baton and devoted his life to the same quest.

Konstantine Stanislavsky

Konstantine Stanislavsky

The russian word used by Stanislavsky, strictly meaning “experience,” is usually translated as ‘living through,” meaning the desire for actors to, as my father said, “live truthfully under imaginary circumstances.” Instead of an actor indicating what he or she wants the audience to understand, the actor should experience those things that he or she wishes to convey.

That is why we talk about truth. It is more than reality. It is more than being natural. Those are issues of style rather than content. Truth is about the undeniable experience of really living something. It is powerful and magnetic, and it is an ability that all of our greatest actors have mastered.

This answer is not just a matter of theory. It is the explicit goal of our training, and it is the measuring stick that each actor should look to in order to evaluate their work. Are they experiencing a truth, according to their own senses, while they work or are they just faking it? If you can experience something with great conviction, then you are already probably in the top echelon. You can move on to the more stylistic issues of character, genre, and storytelling.

If you are faking it, it’s back to the drawing board.

That is what every actor should be asking themselves. Am I just acting the lines? Am I telling you what I think I  should be saying in a manner that conveys the way I think the character should be feeling? That is what most actors settle for.

Method Actors want more. We want to contribute something creative to the process. We have the guts to share our unique response to moment rather than being boxed in by cliche or convention. We are determined to give some of ourselves to the role and to the story in that very instant of “living through.” That, after all, is what Perezhivanie is all about. All the other wrangling aside, that is what Stanislavsky sought. That is what Lee Strasberg insisted on without compromise. Its what makes us special, and it is why our actors are the best.

Published in: on April 11, 2009 at 10:16 pm  Comments (4)  
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