Edited & Annotated by Barry Paris

[Publication slated by Alfred A. Knopf for 2012]

          In “Stella Adler: The Europeans” [Vol. I, Alfred A. Knopf 1999], the most enduring, influential acting teacher of the 20th century illuminated the plays and performance techniques of Ibsen, Strindberg and Chekhov.

          In “Stella Adler: The Americans” [Vol. II], her penetrating gaze and powerful voice are focused on the great plays and playwrights of her own country---nearly all of whom she knew, loved and worked with personally.

          Once again, Adler’s revelatory script and acting lectures of half a century have been distilled, edited and annotated by Barry Paris in accessible form for general readers, as well as actors and directors.

          In Vol. II, Adler turns her passionate attention first to Eugene O'Neill’s “Beyond the Horizon” (1920), then to a strikingly original examination of “Long Day's Journey into Night” (1956).  From O’Neill she moves to a delightful, fresh analysis of Thornton Wilder’s “The Skin of Our Teeth” (1942).

          Most vivid, detailed and intimate are her reflections on Clifford Odets, a fellow founding member with Adler and her husband Harold Clurman of the legendary Group Theater, which premiered Odets’ groundbreaking Depression-era plays “Waiting for Lefty” (1935), “Golden Boy” (1937) and “Country Girl” (1950).

          Adler’s resurrection of William Saroyan’s forgotten one-act “Hello Out There” (1941) comes complete with backstage anecdotes, including the time Saroyan showed up stark naked at Stella’s dressing-room door.

          But perhaps the most compelling component of “Stella Vol. II” is her unique insight into Tennessee Williams, with in-depth character elucidations of his breakout play, “The Glass Menagerie” (1945), and of his greatest one, “A Streetcar Named Desire" (1947).  A surprise highlight of this section is her scrutiny of an obscure nugget called “The Lady of Larkspur Lotion” (1941)---for all practical purposes, a “new” Tennessee Williams play to serious and casual theatergoers alike.

          Adler’s potent appraisal of William Inge’s “Come Back, Little Sheba” (1950) is followed by an emotional dissection of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” (1949) and a brutal political take on his controversial Marilyn Monroe play-à-clef, “After the Fall” (1964).

          Vol. II concludes with Adler’s social and psychological exploration of Edward Albee’s avant-garde “Zoo Story” and “The Death of Bessie Smith” (1959).

          Throughout, the heavy subjects are leavened by this ultimate insider’s droll embellishments and juxtapositions, e.g.: “Thornton Wilder was the most educated man that ever lived but also the biggest clown. I never saw a man make such a fool of himself---jokes and laughter and imitations. It was so much fun to be with him.  Whereas, Arthur Miller came once to a party I was giving, and it was like death walking in---he was so serious. I said to somebody, `For God's sakes, ask him to leave!’”

          Truthful, timeless and always riveting, Adler’s words inspired the likes of Brando, DeNiro, Streep and Pacino. The electric lectures captured here---like her beauty, theatricality and imperious authority---still burn with an uncompromising fire, continuing to stimulate and challenge everyone who loves theater.

*  *  *

          With a prefatory introduction by Barry Paris, a transcript of Adler’s last interview with him, and stunning hitherto unpublished photographs from her private collection of play-scene stills, character shots and studio portraits.


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