The need to practice self-quarantine during the global pandemic has forced us all to learn new ways of coping, new ways of being, and new ways of staying sharp. While there’s a strong impetus to eat too much and spend way too much time on the couch, there are things we – as actors and theatre professionals – can do with this unexpected windfall of free time to hone our skills and explore new horizons.
Read New Material:
- Find monologues and audition pieces. This Actor Aesthetic article has some great tips for actors and links to places where you can find scripts and monologues.
- Dramatist Play Service and Samuel French have hundreds of great plays available for download electronically.
- Get back to basics. Here is a short reading list of books that can help with The Method work:
- An Actor Prepares by Stanislavsky
- Acting: The First Six Lessons by Richard Boleslavsky
- Strasberg at the Actors Studio by Robert H. Hethmon
- The Lee Strasberg Notes by Lola Cohen
- The Method Acting Exercises Handbook by Lola Cohen
- A Dream of Passion by Lee Strasberg
Want something contemporary?
- New Play Exchange is a platform for up-and-coming playwrights to share their work.
- A reader account is $12 for one year. The Writer Pro account is $18 per year.
- The Complete Works of Shakespeare are in the public domain.
- Do you have unread plays or books on your shelves? Read those, too!
Watch Strasberg Alumni/Faculty in Action:
- Marriage Story on Netflix starring alumni Laura Dern and Scarlett Johansson
- The Discovery on Netflix with LA teacher M.J. Karmi
- Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2 with alumna Uma Thurman
- Daredevil on Netflix and Full Metal Jacket with Method Actor Vincent D’Onofrio
- The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime starring alumna Rachel Brosnahan in the titular role
- The Bridge on the River Kwai with NYC Method Acting teacher Geoffrey Horne
- The Sopranos on HBO with NYC teacher George Loros, alumnus Michael Imperioli, and LA teacher Sharon Angela
- Want more? Check out our Notable Alumni and look up their work!
Check in with Celebrities
Countless Broadway and movie stars have been doing live streams from their homes. The Actors Fund on YouTube has started ‘Stars in the House,’ a channel dedicated to posting videos from celebrities, including Jessie Mueller, Kristen Chenoweth, and Judy Kuhn. Some writers have taken to Facebook to live stream master classes. America’s most produced playwright, Lauren Gunderson, has been teaching free classes via Facebook Live. Look your favorite actors and writers up on social media and see what they’re up to!
We Are All in This Together
Hannah Wisner is Wardrobe Supervisor at The Marriott Theatre. She offers her own perspective on the crisis and its effects on suddenly out-of-work theatre professionals. She notes that many working actors are also waiters, administrators, personal trainers, and other roles in the service industry. These professions have been sidelined as well, and incomes of theatre practitioners have evaporated as a result.
“The nature of theatre is contract work to begin with, so many actors have had years where they are out of work for a month or three. The problem now is that their day jobs don’t exist either (often temping, restaurants, nannying),” said Wisner.
“But people are getting creative by holding voice classes, dance classes, concerts over Instagram live, where people can tip via Venmo. They are continuing their workout routines, they are entertaining their friends over their Instagram stories. They are unemployed. Most are very depressed and scared. And so is a huge chunk of the country. They are just doing what they can to scrape enough money for food and hopefully, they have a live-in partner, roommates, parents who can help them pay rent.”
People Need Art
“What I think is most interesting is that theaters/arts were shut down first, and traditionally those are where budget cuts go in schools, but the second everyone was locked inside we saw a surge of free theatre streaming, opera, movie releases, etc. People need art, but these artists don’t have security to live on anything right now.”Hannah Wisner, The Marriott Theatre
Actors and theatre personnel are dealing with this crisis in their own ways, but all seem to agree that now is not the time to lose focus. It can be tempting to dwell on worst-case scenarios and give in to fear and worry. That rumination, however, serves no one. Lee Strasberg built his school on the principle that actors must use what they know; return to a known experience or emotion and access it for a touchstone of authenticity when occupying a given role.
Honing your craft through continued education, even while in quarantine, is possible. The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute maintains committed to its students during this uncertain time, transitioning all its classes to be held remotely. The switch to remote teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how effectively The Method can be taught and applied in online class. This discovery has led to the launch of a brand new online acting class subscription program – with options for both alumni and students new to The Method. Check back for more details on the program page soon!