The Method recounts the surprising story of how the twentieth century learned to act, from Moscow Art Theatre and Bertolt Brecht to method acting in America. It is a history of art as much as it is a history of labor, showing how artists sought to find new ways for people to engage with their world and each other. Moving between Russia and Germany on one side, and America on the other, Isaac Butler shows us that what we know today about performance—from drama schools teaching “the Method” to actors striving for realism onstage—comes from an often overlooked but utterly fascinating set of experiments conducted over nine decades ago.
For who is this book for ?
This book is for anyone who is interested in theater and the history of labor.
- The Method tells the story of how twentieth century learned to act, from Moscow Art Theatre and Bertolt Brecht to method acting in America.
- The book is a history of art as much as it is a history of labor, showing how artists sought to find new ways for people to engage with their world and each other.
- Isaac Butler moves between Russia and Germany on one side, and America on the other brilliantly, giving an insightful look at this topic.
- The book may be dense for some readers.
- It covers a lot of material in a relatively short amount of time.
- Some readers might find the focus on theory and philosophy to be frustrating
Learn more about the author
Isaac Butler is a writer and theatre director. He has written for The New Yorker, Slate, and American Theatre magazine, where he is a contributing editor. He has also directed productions at Playwrights Horizons, the Public Theater, Ars Nova, South Coast Repertory, Actors’ Gang Prison Project (where he is an Artistic Associate), Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company (where he was Literary Manager from 2006 to 2009), Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Associate Artist 2010-2011) and many other places.
“Superb… Butlers account is rich and fascinating, a story of migrations both geographical and artistic, of enormous personalities and unexpected collaborations.”
“Butler has written a highly readable and compelling history of how the 20th century learned to act. This is not just a book about theater, but one that offers insights into questions of labor, art, realism, creativity and change. I couldn’t put it down.”
“This is an amazing, eye-opening history of the development of methods for acting in theatre and film. Butler has done an incredible job researching and telling a complex story with clarity and insight.”
“This lively and learned book tells the largely unknown story of how method acting came to dominate twentieth-century theater. It is also a compelling history of art as labor, tracing the efforts of artists to create new ways for people to engage with their world and one another.”