In the 1950s, plays by William Inge and Arthur Miller were ideally suited to a naturalistic style of acting. As such, "The Method," an acting technique and preparation devised by Konstantin Stanislavski and adapted by Lee Strasberg's Actors' Studio, has held sway as the premier training program for young performers.
However, Richard Poole, co-founder of the Gately/Poole Acting Studio, has found "The Method" sometimes inadequate when dealing with modern or experimental playwrights. "At the moment," he wrote, "there is no formal training program in the United States which does this. Consequently, many actors have found it can be tough going if they are cast in new plays."
To solve this problem, Poole will serve on the faculty of a new training program formed by Off-Broadway's Primary Stages Company. Also running the program will be actor/educator Janis Astor del Valle, Carnegie-Mellon University's head of the Graduate Playwriting program, Arthur Giron, and three playwrights: David Ives (All In The Timing, Ancient History, The Red Address), Mac Wellman (Sincerity Forever), and Willy Holzman (Sabina).
"The prevailing approach to acting remains stuck in a naturalistic style," Poole wrote, "but it is the 1990s, not the 1950s. The simple, universal conflicts faced by an Arthur Miller character have been replaced with a complexity unknown to our parents and grandparents of the theatre. The environments created by contemporary writers (David Ives, John Patrick Shanley, Mac Wellman, Donald Margulies, Sam Shepard, John Guare, etc.) have become increasingly idiosyncratic and unfamiliar, with black humor, dreams, fables, irrational absurdities and symbols to express their vision."
Poole continues: "The program at Primary Stages means to address this imbalance and to narrow the gap between an actor's training and the demands he faces when working with contemporary material. This does not indicate a break from the past. This is not intended to be an experimental approach to acting. It is meant to be an addition or an extension to what the actor already knows." Auditions for the Acting Workshop will be held (by appointment only) Jan. 6 (5-8 PM) and Jan. 7 (11 AM-3 PM). Classes are held at the Phil Bosakowski Theatre, 354 West 45th St. Adult classes are $495, childrens and teen classes are $250. For application information, call Kate Boyer at (212) 333-7471.
--By David Lefkowitz