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strasberg acting

Lecture Series

A Lecture Series On:
The History of Acting Training and the Organic Nature of Creativity

This is a summary of a series of lectures given following the publication of John Strasberg's book, Accidentally On Purpose: Reflections on Life, Acting, and the Nine Natural Laws of Creativity, published in New York by Applause Books in the fall of 1996, and in London by A&C Black in springtime 1997; that explore the discovery and evolution of the intimate and personal, Organic Creative Process, and the Nine Natural Laws of Creativity.

The lectures examine the perceptions and realities that make us understand why everyone can learn, and develop pleasure in using their own creative capacities, while also clarifying the centuries old debate as to whether art can be taught, and clearly defining why not everyone can be an artist, based on our knowledge of human behavior. They clarify the place of technique in training, and define technique; not as being based on the idea that human beings are computer-like, programmable machines living in a mechanized universe, but as being the means by which natural human capacities are perceived, defined, and developed for artists, in the way technique is developed and used by, and for, great athletes and scientists.

John Strasberg's Organic Creative Process and the Nine Natural Laws of Creativity fall into three organic sections, and the lectures are divided that way. Lectures Two, Three, and Four describe the levels of human reality that are being developed in the training of an individual's creative process. The lectures also discuss how Mr. Strasberg's perceptions redefine the training process, in harmony with the changes in consciousness that characterize the new manner in which we perceive the nature of human thought and life in the latter part of the 20th Century. The past seventy-five years has been dominated by the techniques of Stanislavski and Lee Strasberg (not the principles underlying them), which are effective; but deterministic, linear in concept, and therefore, limited by the very nature of the thought that conceived them; and the problem, creatively speaking, they cause by limiting the way in which an artist is taught to think about what he or she is doing. A good creative process expands the intelligence, humanity, and open-mindedness of the individual. It does not direct it to think about narrow, technical perceptions of reality, such as sense memory, or actions and objectives, etc. do; the language of creativity must be the language of human experience.

Lecture One:
Stanislavski to the American School (Strasberg, Adler, Meisner) to John Strasberg and the 21st Century

A lecture (synthesized from an earlier series of three lectures) that examines the personal character traits and work experiences that evolved into Stanislavski's work, and that led Lee Strasberg to develop. The Method, and the way in which they are now synthesized and further evolved into John Strasberg's Organic Creative Process and the Nine Natural Laws of Creativity.

Both Stanislavski and the American school that followed, Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler and Sandy Meisner), broke the creative process down into its separate parts. Each system focused on aspects in particular of that process. This was a natural consequence of linear thinking (Descartes and Newton) that has dominated human thought processes since the 18th Century.

While all of them recognized talent and inspiration, they considered those realities part of God's work, mystical, undefinable, invisible. John Strasberg begins where they left off.

The lecture explores the obsessions, personalities and problems of each artist, that influenced the way in which their work process evolved: such as Stanislavski's difficulty in being concentrated and truthful as an actor, Lee Strasberg's difficulty in expressing personal feeling, and John Strasberg's overwhelming insecurity and need to trust his own sense of truth and intuition in the face of The Method and his father's success. It also clarifies the reality of what the Actors Studio was, and the misconceptions that are held as to what The Method was and is.

Lecture Two:
The Nine Natural Laws of Creativity
The Laws of Talent, Imagination, and Spontaneous Inspiration

Without defining talent, it is impossible to define what one is teaching, or what each system and method of teaching is really doing, because we are not perceiving what basic human capacities and qualities the technique is developing, or if there is a better way to do it. How does each system define, recognize, and train talent I define it, and also discuss the difference between talent, sensitivity, and neurosis.

Imagination and the capacity to be both spontaneous and inspired, are, along with talent, the basic human qualities we are born with, which define and determine the capacity of each individual. How do we perceive and define these qualities, and how can they be developed? How do different systems develop it? (Improvisation, Acting choices, objectives, actions, etc.)