“Does it seem to you that it is possible to speak of art? …It would be the same as trying to explain love.” – Eleonora Duse, 1858-1924
SHELLEY'S TIPS AND SUGGESTIONS
How to create a personal sacred space through art, dialogue and self-awareness.
(Not in any particular order.)
Watch Matthew Weiner, creator of MADMEN, speak about the last episode, the series, the actors and the writers.
From James Grissom’s blog, Follies of God : Thoughts on acting from Elia Kazan
Uta Hagen’s word of advice for modern actors
The Divine Feminine ... for actors and actresses
The Burning Times (Dir. Donna Reed )
Personal Growth Links
Dr. Mario Martinez explains how abandonment, shame and betrayal effect people and why dramatic art and great story telling are so transformative. Check it out on youtube.
Dr. Ian McGilchrist’s award winning documentary The Divided Brain.
Abraham Wisdom from Esther Hicks
Through her TEDtalk on Shame, Dr. Brené Brown inadvertently gets to the heart of great acting,
Hollywood (on Netflix)
Mrs. America (on Hulu)
Normal People (on Hulu)
Angels in America (on iTunes)
Honey Boy (on Amazon)
When They See Us
(plus Oprah’s Interview with the Exonerated 5)
Mozart in the Jungle
The Wizard of Wall Street
Wild, Wild Country
ACTOR'S STARTER KIT!
The three most important aspects to Shelley Mitchell’s approach are:
1) Sounding unscripted.
2) Understanding the author’s intent (script analysis).
3) Being attuned to your own truth, and cultivating greater and greater receptivity to the essence of your colleagues.
Films, books, links, youtubes and podcasts to get you started!
- Watch all the fantastic videos on our ‘Audit a Class’ page
- Speak with Conviction (Stop using ‘upspeak‘.)
- Introducing Seymour by Ethan Hawke (Learn how to learn from a teaching artist.)
- Peter Brook talks about why we do film and theater
Scene and monologue resources to get the most out of online classes:
Click on any image to purchase!
Focus on Acting
100 original monologues with backstories, preparations, personalizations, emotional sense memories, and sensory conditions. Ideal for any actor.
* Eleonora Duse explains how spirituality and the search for truth influenced everything she did. Duse is considered to be one of the greatest dramatic artists who ever lived and the mother of modern acting. She was the inspiration for the work of both Stanislavsky and Lee Strasberg. If acting is your spiritual path, this book is your bible.
* Stella Adler will set you straight on what it takes to be a great actor. The preface of this book is written by Marlon Brando. What else is there to say?
… Any book by Stella Adler will expand your mind!
Stella Adler helps us understand America through our playwrights.
Another treasure trove of insight into script analysis.
* Internationally-renowned directing coach Judith Weston demonstrates what constitutes a good performance, what actors want from a director, what directors do wrong, script analysis and preparation, how actors work, and shares insights into the director/actor relationship.
* This fascinating and detailed book about acting is Miss Hagen’s credo, the accumulated wisdom of her years spent in intimate communion with her art. It is at once the voicing of her exacting standards for herself and those she [taught], and an explanation of the means to the end.
“Hagen adds to the large corpus of titles on acting with vivid dicta drawn from experience, skill, and a sense of personal and professional worth. Her principal asset in this treatment is her truly significant imagination. Her ‘object exercises’ display a wealth of detail with which to stimulate the student preparing a scene for presentation.”
“Uta Hagen’s Respect for Acting . . . is a relatively small book. But within it, Miss Hagen tells the young actor about as much as can be conveyed in print of his craft.”
–Los Angeles Times
* This is one of the first acting books published in the United States. It has some very valuable basic ideas and was written by Lee Strasberg and Stella Adler’s acting teacher, Richard Boleslavsky. It’s 100 years old so yes it’s a bit sexist, but if you can get over that it gives you the fundamentals.
“The definitive source book on acting.”—Los Angeles Times
Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Paul Newman, Dustin Hoffman, Dennis Hopper, Robert DeNiro, Marilyn Monroe, and Joanne Woodward—these are only a few of the many actors training in “Method” acting by the great and legendary Lee Strasberg. This revolutionary theory of acting—developed by Stanislavski and continued by Strasberg—has been a major influence on the art of acting in our time. During his last decade, Strasberg devoted himself to a work that would explain once and for all what The Method was and how it worked, as well as telling the story of its development and of the people involved with it. The result is a masterpiece of wisdom and guidance for anyone involved with the theater in any way.
“Shelley Mitchell’s work is very definite, very sound, very detailed.”
Most acting books are either outdated classics that are rarely read, or quasi-textbooks that actors only skim. Notes to an Actor is a compact, user-friendly book geared specifically to the way actors work. The book is based on the innovative idea that notes, given one on one, are the essential tool of creative learning.
“I call this book The Intent to Live because great actors don’t seem to be acting, they seem to be actually living.”
–Larry Moss, from the Introduction
The Empty Space is a timeless analysis of theatre from the most influential stage director of the twentieth century.
As relevant as when it was first published in 1968, groundbreaking director and cofounder of the Royal Shakespeare Company Peter Brook draws on a life in love with the stage to explore the issues facing a theatrical performance—of any scale. He describes important developments in theatre from the last century, as well as smaller scale events, from productions by Stanislavsky to the rise of Method Acting, from Brecht’s revolutionary alienation technique to the free form happenings of the 1960s, and from the different styles of such great Shakespearean actors as John Gielgud and Paul Scofield to a joyous impromptu performance in the burnt-out shell of the Hamburg Opera just after the war.
Passionate, unconventional, and fascinating, this book shows how theatre defies rules, builds and shatters illusions, and creates lasting memories for its audiences.
For thousands of years, in traditional societies around the world, actors were seen as the guardians of intuitive wisdom, and the way of the actor was a path to knowledge and power. Brian Bates believes that this is still the case today – that actors and actresses fulfill an important function in our culture as modern-day seers and shamans. He portrays the actor as a creator of visions who transports spectators out of their habitual ways of being and leads them on a journey of self-discovery. Personal magnetism and charisma, intense body awareness, and psychic sensitivity are among the special powers that contribute to the actor’s mystique. Citing the observations and experiences of over thirty famous performers – including Meryl Streep, Marlon Brando, Glenda Jackson, Liv Ullmann, Jack Nicholson, and Shirley MacLaine – the author also draws on extensive research in science, psychology, parapsychology, and Eastern and Western mysticism to explore the significance of the dramatic art. He not only shows how the magical world of stage and screen mirrors our lives, but also reveals how actors and actresses point the way to self-transformation for everyone. For, as he writes, “the way of the actor is not an esoteric discipline divorced from everyday life. It is everyday life, heightened and lived to the full, with an awareness of powers beyond understanding”
Personal Growth and Wellness
* The bestselling, widely heralded, Jungian introduction to the psychological foundation of a mature, authentic, and revitalized masculinity.
Redefining age-old concepts of masculinity, Jungian analysts Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette make the argument that mature masculinity is not abusive or domineering, but generative, creative, and empowering of the self and others. Moore and Gillette clearly define the four mature male archetypes that stand out through myth and literature across history: the king (the energy of just and creative ordering), the warrior (the energy of aggressive but nonviolent action), the magician (the energy of initiation and transformation), and the lover (the energy that connects one to others and the world), as well as the four immature patterns that interfere with masculine potential (divine child, oedipal child, trickster and hero). King, Warrior, Magician, Lover is an exploratory journey that will help men and women reimagine and deepen their understanding of the masculine psyche.
* In The Book, Alan Watts provides us with a much-needed answer to the problem of personal identity, distilling and adapting the Hindu philosophy of Vedanta.
At the root of human conflict is our fundamental misunderstanding of who we are. The illusion that we are isolated beings, unconnected to the rest of the universe, has led us to view the “outside” world with hostility, and has fueled our misuse of technology and our violent and hostile subjugation of the natural world. To help us understand that the self is in fact the root and ground of the universe, Watts has crafted a revelatory primer on what it means to be human—and a mind-opening manual of initiation into the central mystery of existence.
More than any other Persian poet—even Rumi—Hafiz expanded the mystical, healing dimensions of poetry. Because his poems were often ecstatic love songs from God to his beloved world, many have called Hafiz the “Invisible Tongue.” Indeed, Daniel Ladinsky has said that his work with Hafiz is an attempt to do the impossible: to render Light into words—to make the Luminous Resonance of God tangible to our finite senses.
Rilke’s timeless letters about poetry, sensitive observation, and the complicated workings of the human heart.
Born in 1875, the great German lyric poet Rainer Maria Rilke published his first collection of poems in 1898 and went on to become renowned for his delicate depiction of the workings of the human heart. Drawn by some sympathetic note in his poems, young people often wrote to Rilke with their problems and hopes. From 1903 to 1908 Rilke wrote a series of remarkable responses to a young, would-be poet on poetry and on surviving as a sensitive observer in a harsh world. Those letters, still a fresh source of inspiration and insight, are accompanied here by a chronicle of Rilke’s life that shows what he was experiencing in his own relationship to life and work when he wrote them.
Talking with Angels is the true story of four Hungarian artists who had a life changing mystical experience during the Nazi occupation of Hungary. It is the mother of all acting lessons and highly recommended for any artist looking for inspiration and guidance.
A wonderful introduction to Carl Jung, the mind behind Alcohol Anonymous and ground breaking connection between spirituality and psychotherapy.
Based on Gabor Maté’s two decades of experience as a medical doctor and his groundbreaking work with the severely addicted on Vancouver’s skid row, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts radically reenvisions this much misunderstood field by taking a holistic approach. Dr. Maté presents addiction not as a discrete phenomenon confined to an unfortunate or weak-willed few, but as a continuum that runs throughout (and perhaps underpins) our society; not a medical “condition” distinct from the lives it affects, rather the result of a complex interplay among personal history, emotional, and neurological development, brain chemistry, and the drugs (and behaviors) of addiction. Simplifying a wide array of brain and addiction research findings from around the globe, the book avoids glib self-help remedies, instead promoting a thorough and compassionate self-understanding as the first key to healing and wellness.
In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts argues persuasively against contemporary health, social, and criminal justice policies toward addiction and those impacted by it. The mix of personal stories—including the author’s candid discussion of his own “high-status” addictive tendencies—and science with positive solutions makes the book equally useful for lay readers and professionals.
Barbara Ehrenreich’s New York Times bestselling Bright-sided is a sharp-witted knockdown of America’s love affair with positive thinking and an urgent call for a new commitment to realism
Americans are a “positive” people — cheerful, optimistic, and upbeat: This is our reputation as well as our self-image. But more than a temperament, being positive is the key to getting success and prosperity. Or so we are told.
In this utterly original debunking, Barbara Ehrenreich confronts the false promises of positive thinking and shows its reach into every corner of American life, from Evangelical megachurches to the medical establishment, and, worst of all, to the business community, where the refusal to consider negative outcomes–like mortgage defaults–contributed directly to the current economic disaster.
In Life Inc., award-winning writer, documentary filmmaker, and scholar Douglas Rushkoff traces how corporations went from being convenient legal fictions to being the dominant fact of contemporary life. Indeed, as Rushkoff shows, most Americans have so willingly adopted the values of corporations that they’re no longer even aware of it.
This fascinating journey, from the late Middle Ages to today, reveals the roots of our debacle. From the founding of the first chartered monopoly to the branding of the self; from the invention of central currency to the privatization of banking; from the birth of the modern, self-interested individual to his exploitation through the false ideal of the single-family home; from the Victorian Great Exhibition to the solipsism of Instagram–the corporation has infiltrated all aspects of our daily lives. Life Inc.exposes why we see our homes as investments rather than places to live, our 401(k) plans as the ultimate measure of success, and the Internet as just another place to do business.
Rushkoff illuminates both how we’ve become disconnected from our world and how we can reconnect to our towns, to the value we can create, and, mostly, to one another. As the speculative economy collapses under its own weight, Life Inc. shows us how to build a real and human-scaled society to take its place.
Ask and It Is Given, by Esther and Jerry Hicks, which presents the teachings of the nonphysical entity Abraham, will help you learn how to manifest your desires so that you’re living the joyous and fulfilling life you deserve.
As you read, you’ll come to understand how your relationships, health issues, finances, career concerns, and more are influenced by the Universal laws that govern your time/space reality—and you’ll discover powerful processes that will help you go with the positive flow of life.
A new biography, the first in two decades, of the legendary actress who inspired Anton Chekhov, popularized Henrik Ibsen, and spurred Stanislavski to create a new theory of acting based on her art and to invoke her name at every rehearsal.
Writers loved her and wrote plays for her. She be-friended Rainer Maria Rilke and inspired the young James Joyce, who kept a portrait of her on his desk. Her greatest love, the poet d’Annunzio, made her the heroine of his novel Il fuoco (The Flame). She radically changed the art of acting: in a duel between the past and the future, she vanquished her rival, Sarah Bernhardt. Chekhov said of her, “I’ve never seen anything like it. Looking at Duse, I realized why the Russian theatre is such a bore.” Charlie Chaplin called her “the finest thing I have seen on the stage.” Gloria Swanson and Lillian Gish watched her perform with adoring attention, John Barrymore with awe. Shaw said she “touches you straight on the very heart.”
When asked about her acting, Duse responded that, quite simply, it came from life. Except for one short film, Duse’s art has been lost. Despite dozens of books about her, her story is muffled by legend and myth. The sentimental image that prevails is of a misty, tragic heroine victimized by men, by life; an artist of unearthly purity, without ambition.
Now Helen Sheehy, author of the much admired biography of Eva Le Gallienne, gives us a different Duse—a woman of strength and resolve, a woman who knew pain but could also inflict it. “Life is hard,” she said, “one must wound or be wounded.” She wanted to reveal on the stage the truth about women’s lives and she wanted her art to endure.
Drawing on newly discovered material, including Duse’s own memoir, and unpublished letters and notes, Sheehy brings us to an understanding of the great actress’s unique ways of working: Duse acting out of her sense of her character’s inner life, Duse anticipating the bold aspects of modernism and performing with a sexual freedom that shocked and thrilled audiences. She edited her characters’ lines to bare skeletons, asked for the simplest sets and costumes. Where other actresses used hysterics onstage, Duse used stillness.
Sheehy writes about the Duse that the actress herself tried to hide—tracing her life from her childhood as a performing member of a family of actors touring their repertory of drama and commedia dell’arte through Italy. We follow her through her twenties and through the next four decades of commissioning and directing plays, running her own company, and illuminating a series of great roles that included Emile Zola’s Thérèse Raquin, Marguerite in Dumas’s La Dame aux camélias, Nora in Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, and Hedda in his Hedda Gabler. When she thought her beauty was fading at fifty-one, she gave up the stage, only to return to the theatre in her early sixties; she traveled to America and enchanted audiences across the country. She died as she was born—on tour.
Sheehy’s illuminating book brings us as close as we have ever been to the woman and the artist.
A Method to Their Madness by Foster Hirsch
An interesting history of the Actor’s Studio and Lee Strasberg’s ‘Method’.
An honest, revealing self-portrait by the critically acclaimed, fiercely independent actor discusses his early life, career, world travels, social activism, and profiles of friends, lovers, and professional colleagues. 500,000 first printing.
Elizabeth Taylor and Joanne Woodward were inspired by her work. Arthur Penn called her the American equivalent of Eleanora Duse. She was the greatest stage actress of a generation that included Julie Harris, Geraldine Page, and Colleen Dewhurst. Between 1949 and 1964, Kim Stanley created starring roles in twelve Broadway productions, including Cheri, the nightclub singer in Bus Stop. Then, after fifteen years of stardom, Stanley walked away from the theater, never to return. What happened? Female Brando answers that question with a meticulously researched, empathetic biography that traces Stanley’s childhood, her early training, her stardom—and her tragic descent into alcoholism and loneliness. Much more than a mere cautionary tale, Female Brando is a clear-headed examination of Kim Stanley’s brilliance that places her in the pantheon of great American artists.
Konstantin Stanislavski was a Russian director who transformed theatre in the West with his contributions to the birth of Realist theatre and his unprecedented approach to teaching acting. He lived through extraordinary times and his unique contribution to the arts still endures in the twenty-first century. He established the Moscow Art Theatre in 1898 with, among other plays, the premiere of Chekhov’s The Seagull. He also survived revolutions, lost his fortune, found wide fame in America, and lived in internal exile under Stalin’s Soviet Union.
Before writing his classic manual on acting, Stanislavski began writing an autobiography that he hoped would both chronicle his rich and tumultuous life and serve as a justification of his aesthetic philosophy. But when the project grew to ‘impossible’ lengths, his publisher (Little, Brown) insisted on many cuts and changes to keep it to its deadline and to a manageable length. The result was a version published in English in 1924, which Stanislavski hated and completely revised for a Soviet edition that came out in 1926.
Now, for the first time, translator Jean Benedetti brings us Stanislavski’s complete unabridged autobiography as the author himself wanted it – from the re-edited 1926 version. The text, in clear and lively English, is supplemented by a wealth of photos and illustrations, many previously unpublished.
New York Times best-selling author Cornel West is one of America’s most provocative and admired public intellectuals. Whether in the classroom, the streets, the prisons, or the church, Dr. West’s penetrating brilliance has been a bright beacon shining through the darkness for decades. Yet, as he points out in this new memoir, “I’ve never taken the time to focus on the inner dynamics of the dark precincts of my soul.”That is, until now.Brother West is like its author: brilliant, unapologetic, full of passion yet cool. This poignant memoir traces West’s transformation from a schoolyard Robin Hood into a progressive cultural icon. From his youthful investigation of the “death shudder” to why he embraced his calling of teaching over preaching, from his three marriages and his two precious children to his near-fatal bout with prostate cancer, West illuminates what it means to live as “an aspiring bluesman in a world of ideas and a jazzman in the life of the mind.” Woven together with the fibers of his lifelong commitment to the prophetic Christian tradition that began in Sacramento’s Shiloh Baptist Church, Brother West is a tale of a man courageous enough to be fully human, living and loving out loud.