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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Lola Cohen - The Method Acting Exercises Handbook

"I have encountered talented actors who have worked with the ideas and techniques of Lee Strasberg, Michael Chekhov, Sanford Meisner, Stella Adler, Elia Kazan, Uta Hagen, Robert Lewis, and Kim Stanley, all highly regarded, who have made indelible contributions to both The Method and the craft of acting.  I believe there are more similarities between these artists than differences in their search for authenticity and truth.  You will find threads connecting their words and methods to the work of Konstantine Stanislavski, Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko and their trailblazing creation of the MAT.  Explore the different approaches and take from each those things that resonate most with you to illuminate the precarious human condition by making conscious artistic choices in your work."
                                                                                          Lola Cohen
                                                                                          from the Introduction to
                                                                                          The Method Acting Exercises Handbook

We were in a Starbucks somewhere north of the Strasberg Institute on 15th Street.  I had just observed Lola's four-hour Method Acting class.  I remember an exchange of fragments of questions, ideas, observations -- I love walking on the streets of Manhattan; I hardly noticed where we were -- I shared my own experiences teaching differently, but somehow felt an affinity with Lola's class comments, and what she said at that little table as she reached into her bag and said, "I want to read something to you -- something I've written in my introduction to my new book..."  She read the above-quoted paragraph.

I've only had time to skim through the contents of this new book.  I encourage you to read it as thoroughly as I plan to.  I think I will read familiar points of view with which I agree, those with which I won't agree, and definitely those I'd want to explore in depth one day with Lola.

Many books on acting technique have been published since those that were published by some of the masters Lola Cohen listed above, I have read inaccuracies and misunderstandings of their points of view in many of these books, or poor attempts at re-inventing the wheel.  That's why another book that thoroughly explains the criterion of the American acting technique is definitely not one too many, especially when the criteria seem to be more and more misunderstood as time goes by.

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