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Lee Strasberg

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Lee Strasberg was born in Budanov, Ukraine, on 17th November, 1901. The Strasberg family emigrated to the United States in 1908. Strasberg lived in Lower East Side of New York and as a teenager he began acting in plays.

Strasberg studied in Moscow under the Russian director, Konstantin Stanislavsky, who had developed a system of training and rehearsal for actors which bases a performance upon inner emotional experience.

In 1931 Strasberg joined with Harold Clurman to form the Group Theatre in New York. Others involved in the group included Elia Kazan, John Garfield, Howard Da Silva, Franchot Tone, John Randolph, Joseph Bromberg, Clifford Odets and Lee J. Cobb. Members of the group tended to hold left-wing political views and wanted to produce plays that dealt with important social issues.

The Group Theatre produced some notable plays including The House of Connelly (1931 by Paul Green), The Condemned (1932 by Marc Blitzstein), Men in White (1933 by Sidney Kingsley), Waiting for Lefty (1935 by Clifford Odets), The Cradle Will Rock (1937 by Marc Blitzstein) and My Heart's in the Highlands (1939 by William Saroyan).

The Group Theatre disbanded in 1941 and Strasberg moved to Hollywood. He returned to Manhattan in 1947 where he joined with Elia Kazan to form the Actors Studio. Over the next few years he helped to train a large number of actors including Marlon Brando, Rod Steiger, Eli Wallach, Patricia Neal, Dustin Hoffman and Robert DeNiro.

Lee Strasberg died on 17th February, 1982.

 

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© John Simkin, April 2013

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