|Formation||October 5, 1947|
|Purpose||Organization for professional actors, theatre directors and playwrights|
|Headquarters||432 West 44th Street|
Manhattan, New York City
The Actors Studio is a membership organization for professional actors, theatre directors and playwrights at 432 West 44th Street between Ninth and Tenth Avenues in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City. It was founded on October 5, 1947, by Elia Kazan, Cheryl Crawford and Robert Lewis, who provided training for actors who were members. Lee Strasberg joined later and took the helm in 1951 until his death on February 17, 1982.
The Studio is best known for its work refining and teaching method acting. The approach was originally developed by the Group Theatre in the 1930s based on the innovations of Konstantin Stanislavski. While at the Studio, actors work together to develop their skills in a private environment where they can take risks as performers without the pressure of commercial roles.
As of May 2018[update], the studio's co-presidents are Ellen Burstyn, Alec Baldwin and Al Pacino. The Artistic Director in New York is Beau Gravitte, and the Associate Artistic Director in New York is Estelle Parsons.
After an initial meeting held on October 5, 1947, at the Labor Stage, located at 106 W. 39th Street (formerly the Princess Theatre), in which goals and ground rules of the new organization were discussed, the studio officially opened for business the following day at the Union Methodist Episcopal Church, located at 229 West 48th Street, previously home to the Actors Kitchen and Lounge (maintained to assist actors and others unable to afford meals), and long a source of rental rehearsal space for local theatrical producers.
Before settling in its current location in 1955, the Studio moved regularly over an eight-year period: In January 1948, it was a dance studio on East 59th Street. In April of that year, a move to the CBS Building at 1697 Broadway, near 53rd Street, established some semblance of stability; the Studio would not move again until the summer of 1952. From that point, the old Theatre Guild rehearsal rooms on the top floor of the ANTA Theatre became home, as they would remain until October 1954, when theatre renovations reduced the Studio to renting space twice a week. This it did at the Malin Studios at 1545 Broadway, room 610. This arrangement continued throughout the 1954–1955 theatrical season, even as the Studio was acquiring and renovating its current venue.
In 1955 it moved to its current location in the former West 44th Street United Presbyterian Church, a Greek Revival structure which was built for the Seventh Associate Presbyterian Church in 1858 or 1859. It was one of the last churches to be built in that style in New York City.
In the reading that I have done, I discovered that Eleonora Duse in Italy, when she saw Sarah Bernhardt, from France, who opened up the whole approach to acting, and she was stimulated to bring her own beingness onstage, and when she went to Russia in the late nineteenth century and performed there, and Chekhov saw her, he wrote a letter to his sister afterwards about it, and he said that "its a whole new theater that she's introduced me to" and he then started writing plays for that style of acting, for the Moscow Art Theatre, and that influenced Stanislavsky, who then came to America in 1926 and while he was here, Strasberg and Bobby Lewis and all of those people were – Stella Adler – were all young acting students and they went to see Stanislavsky and then started studying with the Russians. Those people then started The Group Theater, then after that closed in eight years, left behind the greatest body of acting teachers in this country. And all of those people then started The Actors Studio. So it's a direct-- we are the following generation, but it all goes back to Eleonora Duse and Sarah Bernhardt.
—Ellen Burstyn, Charlie Rose show, 26 May 1994
From September 1994 through May 2005, the Studio collaborated with The New School in the education of master’s-level theatre students at the Actors Studio Drama School (ASDS). After ending its contract with The New School, the Actors Studio established The Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University in 2006.
Those most influential in The Actors Studio discuss the evolution of the school, the impact that it's had in the acting community, and its new partnership with The New School. Norman Mailer, Ellen Burstyn, Paul Newman, Arthur Penn, James Lipton, Frank Corsaro
DUSE By William Weaver. Illustrated. 383 pp. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. $19.95...Tommaso Salvini conquered Moscow and St. Petersburg in 1882 and made a lasting impression on the young Konstantin Stanislavsky. The future director of the Moscow Art Theater who was born in 1863 had missed Adelaide Ristori's Russian tour of 1861-62. The climax of this invasion came in 1891 with the arrival of the greatest Italian of them all, Eleonora Duse. Her influence on Stanislavsky was potent.