Butler’s book spans a full century of history on two continents and traces the myriad ways Konstantin Stanislavski’s acting system has traveled around the world.

School of Drama faculty member Isaac Butler publishes new book exploring acting method

The method game has been in the news a lot lately thanks to Lady Gaga’s performance in Gucci House, where she transformed into Patrizia Reggiani, to critical and public acclaim. “The Method” has its roots in the early 1900s and is a system of acting that performers such as Ellen Burstyn, Al Pacino, Faye Dunaway and many more have engaged in, while countless other actors have been trained in techniques inspired by “The Method.”

Recently, Isaac Butler, a faculty member at the theater schoolpublished”The method: how the 20th century learned to actwhich explores the history of acting method and its lasting influence on how actors act. The book spans a full century of history across two continents and traces the myriad ways Konstantin Stanislavski’s acting system has traveled the world to shape how actors approach “The Method” today.

“I’m drawn to stories where art, cultural change, and politics collide, especially if they’re filled with lots of colorful characters who possess oversized personalities,” Butler explained. He was drawn to the colorful and intricate history of the method play, which is populated by the larger-than-life stories of the theater.

“I trained as a professional actor, and that training was very much rooted, like the Method, in the teachings of Stanislavski,” Butler said. “As an adult, I have always been curious how these ideas that first arose in Russia in 1906 crossed the Atlantic and transformed American popular culture and acting. It seemed like such an unlikely turn of events that I just had to find out more.

Butler hopes readers will learn a variety of lessons and values ​​from her book, whether it’s an entertaining historical account or a fresh take on their own dramatic work.

“For some readers I’ve spoken to, they’ve really been challenged to rethink creativity and the creative process and the interaction between their inner life and the world. It has been incredibly rewarding. For others, they’ve really started to think more deeply about the game and the performance, and that’s great too,” Butler said. “My hope was to make something large enough that all sorts of readers could fit into it.”

While Butler’s book explores the rich history of “The Method,” it had to leave out some particularly dramatic stories, including the rumor that Lee Strasberg’s wife spread that a director lied about the movie’s survival. ‘Holocaust, and a section on film Redswhich happens to be one of Butler’s favorite films.

As a faculty member at the School of Drama, Butler is in regular contact with students, which help shape his writing as he always reflects on how they view the world. Butler also aims for her books to work both for the general public and on an academic curriculum, and tries to use her writing to fill in gaps that might be useful for students.

“Being part of this community provides access to a huge treasure trove of research tools, whether it’s the interlibrary loan system or JSTOR and other databases, and people should really take advantage of that,” shares Butler. “We are heirs to a great legacy of theatrical innovation as American theater makers. The building in which I teach housed Erwin Piscator’s drama studio, where Stella Adler’s teaching career took off and where she mentored, among others, Marlon Brando. It’s wonderful to feel a deep connection to this story as a teacher at The New School.


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