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Madness In The Method

August 18, 1991

The captioned photograph of Stella Adler on the front page of the July 7 Book Review ("Method Actors" by Steve Vineberg) implies that the great lady of world theater was "a disciple" of Lee Strasberg.

Is that how it really was?

I was given to understand, from the most reliable source, that Miss Adler, on her return from her first visit to the U.S.S.R., tried in vain to explain to Strasberg that he had "gotten it all wrong" and that Stanislavsky should not be interpreted in the manner which was being adopted by the so-called "method school," then under the direction of Strasberg.

This was discipleship?

More important, perhaps because it is funny, there is an anecdote in circulation that also confounds the use of the word disciple :

It is said that upon hearing the announcement of the death of Strasberg, Stella Adler went to her next class and told the assembly, "Ladies and Gentlemen, a man of the American theater with an international reputation died today . . . ." At this point, I am told, the entire class stood in spellbound silence. After a few moments, the students resumed their places and the indefatigable Miss Adler continued, "And it will take one hundred years to undo the damage he has done."

A disciple yet?

DONALD MACKECHNIE, GLENDALE

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