‘An Actress Prepares: Women and The Method’

This new, academic study of method acting in the US by Rosemary Malague features Marilyn, arriving at the Actor’s Studio in 1956, on its cover. You can order it in paperback or as an Ebook from the Book Depository.

“‘I’ve been waiting for someone to write this book for years: a thorough-going analysis and reconsideration of American approaches to Stanislavsky from a feminist perspective …lively, intelligent, and engaging.’ — Phillip Zarrilli, University of Exeter ‘Theatre people of any gender will be transformed by Rose Malague’s eye-opening study An Actress Prepares…This book will be useful to all scholars and practitioners determined to make gender equity central to how they hone their craft and their thinking.’ — Jill Dolan, Princeton University ‘Every day, thousands of women enter acting classes where most of them will receive some variation on the Stanislavsky-based training that has now been taught in the U.S. for nearly ninety years. Yet relatively little feminist consideration has been given to the experience of the student actress: What happens to women in Method actor training?’ An Actress Prepares is the first book to interrogate Method acting from a specifically feminist perspective. Rose Malague addresses “the Method” not only with much-needed critical distance, but also the crucial insider’s view of a trained actor. Case studies examine the preeminent American teachers who popularized and transformed elements of Stanislavsky’s System within the U.S.–Strasberg, Adler, Meisner, and Hagen– by analyzing and comparing their related but distinctly different approaches. This book confronts the sexism that still exists in actor training and exposes the gender biases embedded within the Method itself. Its in-depth examination of these Stanislavskian techniques seeks to reclaim Method acting from its patriarchal practices and to empower women who act.”

UPDATE: My review on Goodreads

“To be honest, I bought this book mainly because I was interested in the dynamic between Lee Strasberg and his famous student, Marilyn Monroe. I expected it to be a rather dry, academic tome. But actually, it’s a fascinating read. The psychological approaches of the 4 major American, Stanislavsky-based teachers were very different. At worst, it could seem like entering a cult. Author Rosemary Malague takes a feminist perspective, so maybe she’s biased, but it does seem like the male teachers – Strasberg and Sanford Meisner – were the most manipulative and egomaniacal. It certainly strips away some of the glamour of method acting, and the Actors Studio. But I was interested to learn more about Stella Adler’s emphasis on the play rather than the self, and the empowering teaching style of Uta Hagen.

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