The Stella Adler Technique

  1. The Actor’s Goals – rid self of outside opinions; begin with self-awareness; body, speech, mind, emotions; discipline.
  2. Beginning the Technique – energy, be heard, eliminate tension, physical control, speech control, muscular memory, animal movement.
  3. Imagination – collective consciousness, seeing imaginatively, seeing and describing.
  4. Circumstances – the truth of the place, living the circumstances, building the larger circumstances, mood in circumstances.
  5. Actions – do-able and in VERB form.  Action is something you DO (to read; it has an end (reading newspaper); it is done in circumstances (in the subway); it is justified (to follow the stock market).
  6. Justification – 1st comes the action, then the reason for doing it.  Instant, creative, in the circumstances (physicalize props), inner.
  7. Working on the Stage – Props, Smartening up the Action, Personalization, Planned Accidents.
  8. Character – Start with circumstances the playwright gives you.
  9. Working on the Text – Verbing, Units, Study Script, Tell the Story, Actions 1st – Words 2nd; words come out of actions.

chapter one - The actor's goals

  • 1st job of actor: rid self of outside opinions.
  • Make lists of assets and faults: only with true awareness of both, can you begin to learn to break out of your mid-class defensiveness.
  • Cannot hold back anything; begins with self-awareness.
  • Actor has only her body as an instrument; work on body, speech, mind, emotions.
  •     Must have a core made of steel and a will to survive.
  • Entails a special strength, a new discipline.

chapter two - beginning the technique

  • Energy: find the energy you need for your words; start with vocal.
  • Reaching the Audience: all must hear you!
  • Tension: enemy of acting; prevents truth; reduced when concentration is given to action; locate tense areas; relax.
  • Physical Controls: principle - 1st you must achieve your norm and understand your body.
  • Controls for Speech: understand yours; lips, accents, etc.
  •    Muscular Memory: sensory truth of movement; touch object & then re-create when not there.
  • Animal Movement: purpose - rid actor of social mask and free from inhibitions.  15  min/day; learn to use body and voice differently.

chapter three - imagination

  • 99% of what you see and use on stage comes from it.
  • Collective Consciousness: tap in to all you’ve experienced.
  • Seeing Imaginatively.
  •  Seeing and Describing.                                                                                                              
  • Facts vs. Actor’s Way: pg. 21; in your CHOICE is your talent.

chapter four - circumstances

  • The Truth of the Place: before go to text, imperative to physically move around in new circum. and use them; complete absorption.
  • Living the Circumstances: pg.32; don’t take self and put into.
  • Hamlet; truth of character is not found in YOU, but in CIRCUMSTANCES of royal position of Hamlet. THE TRUTH IS ALWAYS THE TRUTH IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CHARACTER.
  • Building the Larger Circumstances: Details!; build place for self and live in it.
  • Mood in the Circumstances: Mood comes from the circum; church, bar, hospital has a mood; light or dark.

chapter five - actions

  • Aim of your approach to acting is to find the actions in a scene or play; must be do-able; expressed by using verb form.
  • Action is something you DO (to read); it has an end (reading newspaper); it is done in circumstances (in the subway); it is justified (to follow the stock market).
  • Strong & Weak Actions: must have an objective.
  • Explanation of an Action: KNOW - what you do, where you do it, when you do it, why you do it; the action does NOT include “how” which should be spontaneous and unexpected.
  • Nature of an Action: it’s truth; with some actions you DO physical things or “activities”; do each and it will result in an overall.
  • Overall Action (Ruling Idea): sum of all other actions (goal); 3 activities per step.
  • Physicalizing: do something physical; takes the burden off the actor.
  • Completing and Not Completing Actions: if can’t complete, change it to another; if can complete, do so, then go to another.
  • Actions Which Do Not Use Text: they provoke you to use circumstances; pg.43-to read on veranda you must move chair, shoo bees, arrange book etc. (4 actions are good).
  • Preparation and Covered Entrances: helps you start your action; keeps you from tightening up; prop keeps you truthful (take off coat when enter room).
  • Pain and Death: Need “as if...” (stuck needle in eye=headache).
  • Emotion: all can be found thru imagining in the circum. in the play; go to similar ACTION in own life that produces needed emotion; remember what you did, recall the place.

chapter six - justification

  • 1st comes action, then reason for doing it (justification).
  • What you choose for just. Should agitate you; as a result of agitation you will experience the action and the emotion. Talent consists of how well you do this.
  • Instant Justification: awakens ability to experience activity; drink water to take pills; each just. Must have logic; deal only with circum. in front of you.
  • More Creative Justifications: use imagination; more personal to you then more interesting and vivid to audience.
  • Justification in the Circumstances: use the circum and physicalize the props if possible.
  • Inner Justification: what the actor contributes to the lines of the playwright; lies behind the words; author gives lines and actor justifies.
  • Answering factually: boring so Just. Turns facts into experience.

chapter seven - working on the stage

  • Props: use imagination when working with props; know life of prop; understand each.
  • Smartening Up the Action: can’t afford to be boring on stage; what you do on stage also needs a certain economy - can’t do all so choose parts (put on make-up - only lipstick and blush).
  • Personalization: put own truth into every prop; be original (mirror is dirty); add detail; talent is how one chooses, handles and personalizes each prop; practice with them; adjust to them.
  • Planned Accidents: practice so no unplanned occurs!
  • Costume: action & costume go together; personalize for character; helps create inner self.

chapter eight - character

  • Acting is largely based on differences between characters.
  • Start with circum. that PW gives you.
  • [Social Situation, Class, Playing a Profession, Background of Character (who, what, when, where, why), Character Elements, Attitude Toward Partner, Dialogue (indicate on app. pg: actions, moods, activities), Attitude, Building a Plot (character revealed thru it), Background (of family & beliefs), Levels (light comedy, medium, dark drama); only 1.]

chapter nine - vocabulary of action

  • Verbs

chapter ten - actor's first approach to the actor

  • Paraphrase play in actor’s words so they belong to you.
  • Break play into sequences; units.

chapter eleven - working on the text

  • Discuss it and its ideas; tell the story!
  • study script, lift idea, realize the play.

chapter twelve - actor's contribution

  • Lose dependency on words and go to the actions of the play.
  • Actions 1st, words 2nd; words come out of the actions.
  • Read the play several times.