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Friday, January 29, 2016

Who was Robert "Bobby" Lewis?

1) LA Times article:

2) Robert Lewis, Influential Acting Teacher, Director

November 25, 1997|By New York Times News Service.
NEW YORK — Robert Lewis, a founder of the Actors Studio, a member of the Group Theater of the 1930s, a successful director of Broadway plays and musicals and one of the most renowned acting teachers of the century, died of a heart attack Sunday night. He was 88 and lived in Manhattan.
In his more than 60 years of teaching -- at the influential Yale School of Drama, at the Actors Studio, at the Lincoln Center Repertory Company and at his own Robert Lewis Theater Workshop -- Mr. Lewis' students included Marlon Brando, Meryl Streep, Anne Bancroft, Jerome Robbins, Montgomery Clift, Eli Wallach, Anne Jackson, Patricia Neal, Sigourney Weaver, Faye Dunaway and Frank Langella.
Mr. Lewis was a disciple of the system of acting developed earlier in the century by Konstantin Stanislavsky, the Russian actor and director, that combined an emotional truth -- a significant moment from the actor's past relived in performance -- with technique. But he always provided his students with his own personal take on Stanislavsky. He disagreed openly and strongly with the principles of another Group Theater member and highly influential Stanislavsky-based teacher, Lee Strasberg, whose system, dubbed the "Method," he felt emphasized emotion to the exclusion of technique.
Mr. Lewis wrote in his 1984 memoir, "Slings and Arrows: Theater in My Life," that the fault with Method, a misapplication of Stanislavsky in America, was a "psychological grip" that created "a sense of truth that, while being genuinely derived from the inner life experience of the actor himself, often represented his emotional reaction to a situation rather than the character's."
As an actor, Mr. Lewis was part of the famed Group Theater, whose membership also included Harold Clurman, Elia Kazan, Strasberg (its acting teacher), Stella Adler, Clifford Odets, John Garfield and Franchot Tone.
Mr. Lewis also was acclaimed as a director of hit Broadway musicals and plays such as "Brigadoon" (1947), "The Happy Time" (1950), "The Teahouse of the August Moon" (1953), "Witness for the Prosecution" (1954) and Lena Horne's "Jamaica" (1957).
In 1947, Mr. Lewis founded the Actors Studio with Kazan and Cheryl Crawford as a training ground for professional actors -- to, in Kazan's words, "get the actor out of the Walgreen's Drugstore." He taught at Yale on and off for 35 years, from 1941 to 1976.
Mr. Lewis set forth his theories on acting in a series of books that became popular and widely quoted, including "Method -- or Madness?" (1958), "Advice to the Players" (1980) and "Slings and Arrows."


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