“It was really clear for me as a kid… if acting isn’t the most important thing in your world, you shouldn’t be doing it.”David Lee Strasberg, on growing up around The Method
David Lee Strasberg, Creative Director of the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute and son of Lee Strasberg, has done a lot of work to follow in his father’s footsteps. “It is impossible to be Lee Strasberg,” says David, so he has dedicated his time to continuing and improving on the work that his father did.
Having experience in business and government work, David brings a different perspective to leadership at LSTFI. “Acting and teaching isn’t an access of passion,” said David, “it’s actually about structure and change in a human being… when I could see those pieces moving, I was all in.” For David, The Method is “the fusion of passion and the technical process…. Use our technique as a way to get into technical work… and find a spontaneous place.”
Modern Science & The Method
David leans into modern science to strengthen The Method. Everyone has something called affective memory, or all of the memories that make up the way that individuals react to the world.
“Neuroscience tells us… no two people have the same reality. Two people in the same scene do not have the same reality.”David Lee Strasberg
This can easily be applied on stage. When actors in a scene must “decide on what is true between the actors” they are limited the “unique perspective” that each character has. Certain things, like blocking or relationship, should be agreed upon, but the way the characters interact with and feel in a location or relationship differs.
Another recent breakthrough in neuroscience deals with the way people feel emotions. Instead of being predisposed to feel certain emotions, emotions work “much more akin to The Method.” “The brain gets inputs and we gain impulses about the world and [our brains] create a story based on our past experience.” For example, if a person has had a traumatic experience on a boat, they would be scared to go on a boat, even though other people may be happy to be on a boat. Our emotions are based on our past experiences. The Method builds off of that same principle. “We create a sensation and feel the response… [with] imaginary stimuli.” The beauty of The Method is “the longer you are in the work, that more you create [imaginary reality].”
Continuing the Progress of Strasberg
“I like facilitating other people’s success.” David has created many new opportunities for acting to be successful at LSTFI, including the new Associate’s Degree Program offered in Los Angeles and Los Angeles’ in house theatre company Sixty-Six Theatre Company. Both initiatives are part of LSTFI’s progression forward to continually inspire and train new generations of actors.
The new degree program is “based on the best practices of 50 years of teaching… The training works best when it is combined with a production,” and the degree program does just that. Students are able to practically apply their training as they are learning. Being in classes with the same group of people create “kinship… inspiration among people” and a productive environment to learn and grow in.
“A curious mind will always find inspiration… you can be good, but not great, without inspiration.”David Lee Strasberg
Being Creative Director of LSTFI has allowed David to “grow as a man and as a teacher… The biggest change in my teaching is… appreciation of doing your homework and the value of conditioning.” As an actor, you should be “building your instrument, even when you are not in class.” There immense value in constant training, which is “no more than you’d do as a professional athlete.” Athletes lifts weights, go to the gym, and train hard every day, and so should actors.
David sometimes “finds ease where his father needed to fight,” especially when it comes to legitimizing The Method for others. “I have no angst against people who do not accept my work,” said David. Lee had to work hard to keep The Method going when others doubted and criticized him. David has accepted the doubters that still exist. “The Method has always had doubters and it has always provided answers for people who are willing to learn… Both the doubts and the answers have been continuous” since Lee began his Method.
David Lee Strasberg will be doing a quarterly lecture series titled The Legacy Continues. The series applies the grand history and intellectual tradition of Lee Strasberg’s work to the practical challenges of today’s actor. The next lecture is on February 10th @ 6:00PM at the Marilyn Monroe Theatre at LSTFI Los Angeles.
The event is free and the lecture topic will be announced a week before the event. Topics are drawn from the writing and lecturing of Lee Strasberg over the past 80 years in order to illustrate and explore the most important pillars of The Method while also investigating subtle distinctions and finer points of our teaching.