Actor’s Studio: Acting lessons
Acting and “Method” lessons were the order of the day as part of the Actor’s Studio programme, from Ellen Burstyn, Lee Grant and Martin Landau, who commented on scenes screened from Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore by Martin Scorsese, Detective Story by William Wyler and Tim Burton’s Ed Wood, before a full audience made up mostly of Italian actors, including, among the many, Giulio Scarpati, Sabrina Impacciatore, Orso Maria Guerini, Ennio Fantastichini, Andrea Renzi and Ettore Bassi.
The audience, fascinated by the three actors’ stories, followed and animated the encounter moderated by Mario Sesti and Antonio Monda, which opened with a few words on the Actors Studio and a greeting sent from actor Eli Wallach, who was scheduled to attend but stayed back in the US on account of physical problems, before the many examples and stories began.
The foundation of the Actors Studio is the Stanislavsky Method, the expression of one’s psyche and inner world: “We are not psychoanalysts. If while attending the Actors Studio actors realise they needs one, we advise them to go to a professional,” said Grant, instantly provoking applause from the applause.
When asked by an actor, “What is the one thing an actor should never do?”, Ellen Burstyn responded: “Give up”. Martin Landau continued: “The Actors Studio allows actors to work on themselves. It allowed me to always play different characters, yet to always express what I am inside”.
Even Italian actors were discussed during the evening dedicated to American cinema of the 1950s. Grant related how Lee Strasberg – the greatest of teachers at the Actors Studio, according to Elia Kazan – considered Eleonora Duse one of his favourite actresses. “She was organic and alive, similar to a mother Earth. We are very indebted to post-war Italian cinema. Anna Magnani was a living lesson for us”.
All three gave advice on a career in acting. Ellen Burstyn: “One hundred percent commitment, impose it on yourself, make it become the most important thing in your life”. Lee Grant: “Be brave, accept the ‘no’s’, be obsessed”. Martin Landau: “Make your life a stage for acting”.
The emotional encounter, in which the actors’ voices echoed captivatingly in the dark of the hall, finished with the screening of three scenes from the above-mentioned films, interspersed by the actors’ comments and applause from the public.