Defense Date

2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts

Department

Theatre

First Advisor

David Leong

Abstract

Student of Richard Boleslavsky and Maria Ouspenskaya, co-founder of the Group Theatre, Artistic Director of the Actors Studio, founder of the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute, and developer of The Method, Lee Strasberg is one of the most famous acting teachers of the twentieth century. In the same way a concert pianist must practice her scales daily to maintain expertise, Strasberg believed an actor must regularly practice the use of sense memory to be emotionally authentic. Using Strasberg’s Method, this is achieved through a combination of relaxation and concentration, which leads to a sense of truth in performance. The Method, a praxis built on Stanislavski’s own approach to actor training, since the death of its founder has slacked off in popularity. This is noteworthy for the gold standard status the Method once held in the United States. More easily accessible, less process oriented, more demonstrably obvious and observable techniques such as the work of Michael Chekhov have taken stronger hold in some academic circles. Empirical evidence seems to suggest that a mixture of prejudice for the Method and possible personal dislike for Strasberg the man has made this so. Curious to discover if the Method still held value for the next generation, I committed to teaching a Method class to Virginia Commonwealth University undergraduates. Drawing on my experience at the Strasberg Institute studying under Anna Strasberg, Geoffrey Horne, my practical experiences on stage, and research available after Strasberg’s death, I created my own approach to The Method. Through analysis of my students’ Method acting work and my own teaching, I intended to learn the efficacy and practicality of Strasberg’s Method as we begin the twenty-first century: what we can keep, what we must let go, and what we can change for the better.

Rights

© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2013

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