Stella Adler Acting Technique
Stella Adler was born February 10, 1901 and died in December 21, 1992. She was an American actress and acclaimed acting teacher.She founded the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York City and Los Angeles with long-time protégé Joanne Linville, who continues to teach Adler's technique.
Her grandson Tom Oppenheim now runs the school in New York City,which has produced alumni such as Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Elaine Stritch, Kate Mulgrew and Jenny Lumet.
Irene Gilbert, long-time protégé and close personal friend, founded the Stella Adler Academy of Acting and Theatre in Los Angeles, and was instrumental in bringing Stella Adler to the West Coast to teach on a permanent basis.
The Los Angeles school continues to flourish as an acting studio and houses several theaters, alumni of the Stella Adler-Los Angeles school include Mark Ruffalo, Benicio Del Toro, Brion James, Salma Hayek, Clifton Collins Jr., and Sean Astin.
Stella Adler Studio of Acting: An Inside Look
Adler was one of few American actors to study with Constantin Stanislavski. She was a prominent member of the Group Theatre but differences with Lee Strasberg over the Stanislavski System (later developed by Strasberg into Method acting) made her leave the Group.
She once said: "Drawing on the emotions I experienced — for example, when my mother died — to create a role is sick and schizophrenic. If that is acting, I don't want to do it."
Adler met with Stanislavski again later in his career and questioned him on Strasberg's interpretation. He told her that he had abandoned emotional memory, which had been Strasberg's dominant paradigm, but that they both believed that actors did not have what is required to play a variety of roles already instilled inside them, and that extensive research was needed to understand the experiences of characters who have different values originating from different cultures.
For instance, if a character talks about horse riding, one needs to know something about horse riding as an actor, otherwise one will be faking. More importantly, one must study the values of different people to understand what situations would have meant to people, when those situations might mean nothing in the actor's own culture. Without this work, Adler said that an actor walks onto the stage "naked". This approach is one for which one of her students, Robert De Niro, became famous.
Adler also trained actors' sensory imagination to help make the characters' experiences more vivid, a commonality between her and Strasberg. She believed that mastery of the physical and vocal aspects of acting was necessary for the actor to command the stage, and that all body language should be carefully crafted and voices need to be clear and expressive. She often referred to this as an actor's "size" or "worthiness of the stage".
Her biggest mantra was perhaps "in your choices lies your talent", and she would encourage actors to find the most grand character interpretation possible in a scene; another favorite phrase of hers regarding this was "don't be boring".