Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Stella! Mother Of Modern Acting

Stella Adler could have easily been one of the great movie stars of the Thirties and Forties. Not only was she an extremely talented actress, but she was also blessed with striking features and a pleasing figure that seemed tailor made for the silver screen. While she came from one of the major acting dynasties of Yiddish theatre, however, Stella's destiny would lie elsewhere. Quite simply, Stella Adler became one of the most famous acting teachers of the 20th Century. Among her students numbered such names as Marlon Brando, Benicio Del Toro, Robert De Niro, Salma Hayek, Nick Nolte, and John Ritter.

Despite her fame as an acting instructor, the full story of Stella Adler's life has never been told until now. Author Sheana Ochoa has written the first biography of the legendary acting teacher. Stella! Mother Of Modern Acting is a detailed account of Stella's life and career.

Miss Ochoa has done an impressive job in telling Stella Adler's life story. While Miss Ochoa obviously admires Stella, Stella! Mother Of Modern Acting is not a simple love letter to a legendary figure. Miss Ochoa gives us a balanced picture of the woman that was Stella Alder, both the good and the bad. The author goes into considerable detail on Stella's youth as the daughter of Yiddish acting legend Jacob Adler, her long time rivalry with Lee Strasberg, her relationship with drama critic and theatre director Harold Clurman, and her time spent both on Broadway and Hollywood.

Of course, no person exists in a vacuum, and Sheana Ochoa devotes a considerable amount of time to the milieus into which Stella was born and lived. The author goes into considerable detail on the Adler acting dynasty, the history of Yiddish theatre on New York City's Lower East Side, and the changes in acting from the more flamboyant styles of the early 20th Century to the more realistic techniques influenced by  Constantin Stanislavski. There is a wealth of detail to be found in Stella! The Mother of Modern Acting, even beyond the legendary Stella Adler herself.

Here I must point out that Stella! The Mother of Modern Acting is not for those who are looking for light reading. Sheana Ochoa has what could perhaps be best described as a dense writing style, relaying a good deal of information in any given paragraph. If one is looking for a book that is easily read in one night, then Stella! The Mother of Modern Acting may not be for you. On the other hand, if you are looking for a book that paints an honest, balanced, and detailed account of its subject's life, then this is definitely a book you'll want to read.

Sheana Ochoa has clearly done her research on Stella Adler, and it shows in the book. Written with great detail and with no judgements made towards Stella herself, Stella! The Mother of Modern Acting is a fitting tribute to one of the greatest acting instructors of all time.

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