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The End of Acting


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Lee Strasberg's Method, for nearly 50 years the revered sine qua non of American acting, gets a scathing going-over in this stimulating tract by the head of the theater department at UC-Riverside. Hornby argues that the Method's central tenet, the use of personal feelings in a role, prevents actors from fully grasping or expressing a play's meaning. He provides a valuable summary of Konstantin Stanislavsky's system, the putative basis for Strasberg's work with the Group Theatre and the Actors Studio, to demonstrate that Strasberg ignored Stanislavsky's emphasis on physical action and the script's ``given circumstances'' in order to focus singlemindedly on emotional memory. Hornby states passionately and persuasively that such often despised ``externals'' as speech and movement enable an actor to communicate, and even more deeply feel, a character's essential nature. He doesn't offer anything really new--members of the Group Theatre made many of the same criticisms of the Method nearly 60 years ago, and American Repertory Theatre director Robert Brustein has been calling for more stylistically varied actor training for decades--but theater lovers will find much to ponder in his zingy restatement of a central argument about American acting. Photographs. ( Oct. )

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