Panel on Stella Adler at the Dramatists Guild in New York—Tuesday 22 January 2013
A great actress and a legendary acting teacher, Stella Adler was among the most influential figures in the American theatre of the 20th century. The daughter of the great Yiddish actor Jacob Adler, Stella Adler began her life on the stage at the age of five. She was one of the co-founders of the revolutionary Group Theatre. In 1934, she travelled to Paris, where she met and studied with Konstantin Stanislavski and began to give acting classes for other members of the Group, including Sanford Meisner and Elia Kazan. In 1949, Adler established the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York, and in 1985 she established the Stella Adler Academy of Acting in Los Angeles. Adler's students include Marlon Brando, Warren Beatty, and Robert De Niro.
Now, a new book Stella Adler on America's Master Playwrights, transcribing and editing lectures given by Adler in the 1980s, has been released to critical acclaim. It includes Adler's thoughts on O'Neill, Wilder, Odets, Miller, Albee, and others. Ben Brantley wrote in the New York Times, "Even on the page, Adler (1901-1992) projects to the back of the house. It is indeed the voice of a giant. . . She gives as vibrant an impression as I’ve come across of the social and artistic chaos in which American playwrights of the early 20th century found themselves." And also in the Times, Peter Bogdanovich, another Adler student, wrote "Paris has done a magnificent job of condensing and editing a number of different talks into coherent and resonant chapters on various plays and playwrights. Most exhilarating, for her many former students at least, is that the book brings back the sound of Stella’s unique voice and thought processes, as well as her own particular vision. And now, of course, I not only understand it all, but also find that every sentence is a treasure. For actors and actresses, this rich material is essential. For those interested in the American theatre, it is a must."
We've put together a remarkable panel to discuss Adler and her thoughts on the great American playwrights.
Barry Paris edited the book, as well as the earlier Stella Adler on Ibsen, Strindberg, and Chekhov. His books include biographies of Louise Brooks, Greta Garbo, and Audrey Hepburn, and he co-authored Tony Curtis's autobiography.
Victoria Wilson edited the book for Knopf, where she's a Vice President and Senior Editor. Among the authors she has worked with are Lauren Bacall, Arthur Laurents, Anne Rice, Christopher Plummer, and Sapphire. She is Stella Adler's stepdaughter.
Painter Ellen Adler is Stella Adler's daughter and serves on the Board of the Stella Adler Studio.
Moderator Foster Hirsch is Professor of Film at Brooklyn College and the author of sixteen books on film and theatre, including the classic study of film noir The Dark Side of the Screen and, most recently, Otto Preminger.
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