Theater/Film History: Library of Congress Acquires Lee Strasberg Collection

Posted on April 2, 2012 by


From LC:

The Library of Congress has acquired the initial portion of the personal papers of the American director, producer, actor and acting teacher Lee Strasberg (1901-1982), internationally known for his development of method acting in the Stanislavsky tradition, which deeply influenced performance in American theater and film. The collection has come to the Library as a generous donation by Strasberg’s widow, Anna Strasberg of New York City, who noted that she joins son Adam Strasberg in making this gift to the Library of Congress.

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Method acting, a technique which became popular in the United States in the 1940s and 1950s, is characterized by actors’ attempts to give their roles greater realism by making connections between those roles and their own emotions from the past.

Lee Strasberg co-founded the legendary Group Theatre, was artistic director of the Actors’ Studio in New York City, and founded the Lee Strasberg Institutes in New York City and Los Angeles.

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said, “The Lee Strasberg Collection is of major significance because it documents a crucial chapter of the nation’s theatrical history. Often referred to as the father of method acting in America, Strasberg trained several generations of our most illustrious talents, including Anne Bancroft, Dustin Hoffman, Montgomery Clift, James Dean, Julie Harris, Paul Newman, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and the director Elia Kazan.”

The Library of Congress has received approximately 240 archival boxes containing a wide array of material amassed by Strasberg during his long career, including correspondence, rehearsal notes, drafts of publications and lectures, project files, photographs, theatrical drawings and posters, sketches of stage designs, appointment books, address books, press clippings, acting-class rosters, play scripts and playbills. The papers will be housed in the Library’s Manuscript Division.

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Researchers, scholars, aspiring actors and other artists will be able to use the Strasberg Collection once it has been fully processed.

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