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October 25, 1987|Vincent Curcio

A DREAM OF PASSION: THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE METHOD by Lee Strasberg, edited by Evangeline Morphos (Little, Brown: $16.95; 240 pp., illustrated). Between 1974 and his death in 1981, Lee Strasberg wrote about the art of acting as he saw it in "A Dream of Passion: The Development of the Method," now published in 240 densely written pages, edited by Evangeline Morphos from the unfinished manuscript. For the only time in print Strasberg fully discusses the inspirational sources, theory and practicum of the Method school of acting he created. For the concision of its argument, and its straightforward, comprehensive explication, this book is one of the most intelligent, stimulating and useful books ever written about acting. His descriptions of the great acting he saw as a young man, which formed the basis for his investigations into the mechanisms of this art, are written with an immediacy, clarity and analytical acuity I have previously encountered only in the dance criticism of Edward Denby.

We see the Method as through a jeweler's loup in bright sunshine, its perfections and flaws apparent in full color and dimension. Even its central problem is isolated and clear: Can the foundation of the Method, affective memory, provide an objective correlative to the art of acting? This book is Strasberg's systematic answer, in its definitive redaction.

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