WHAT IS THE ACTORS STUDIO?
The Actors Studio is a non-profit organization dedicated to the development of actors, playwrights and directors. It is NOT a school but an active studio where the members come to practice their art. Activities at the Actors Studio are for the membership only. To become a member you MUST be invited in after passing a series of auditions. Please see our Audition Info and Guideline pages for greater information.
The Actors Studio was formed in 1947 in New York City to provide a place where professional actors could work together between jobs, or during long runs to continue to develop their craft and to experiment with new forms in creative theatre work. In 1967 the Actors Studio opened its only branch in West Hollywood, California.
Membership provides a place for theatre artists to advance their craft and talents. For more than sixty years The Actors Studio has lived a very rich artistic existence and will endure as long as talent needs a home.
It is not open to the public for tours.
The work of the Studio is made possible in part by contributions, bequests and generous gifts from patrons of the Actors Studio. Donations are tax-deductible and should be addressed to:
Deborah Dixon, Executive Director
THE ACTORS STUDIO
432 West 44th Street
New York, NY 10036
(212) 757-0870 , extension 21
ARE THERE ANY OTHER ACTORS STUDIOS IN THE WORLD?
No. There is ONLY the Actors Studio in New York City and Actors Studio West in West Hollywood. Our only official affiliation is with Pace University for our Actors Studio Drama School MFA program (which includes the Bravo Network’s INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO television show).
There are no other branches, studios or acting institutions officially affiliated with or partnered with this original Actors Studio. Anyone in the world using our trademarked name or logo is doing so without our approval or permission.
Please feel free to contact us to inform us of any illegal use of our name or to inquire if someone is legitimately using our name.
WHO HAS HEADED THE ACTORS STUDIO?
The Actors Studio was founded in 1947 by Elia Kazan, Cheryl Crawford and Robert Lewis in New York. Lee Strasberg served as Artistic Director in New York from 1951 until his death in 1982. In 1967, Mr. Strasberg began spending half of each year in California moderating sessions and continued doing so until 1982. Ellen Burstyn and Al Pacino became co-Artistic Directors for the following year. Ms. Burstyn then served as Artistic Director until March 1988. Paul Newman became President of the Studio from 1982 through 1994. Frank Corsaro served as Artistic Director from April 1988 through June 1995. Arthur Penn followed Mr. Corsaro as Artistic Director and President from June 1995 until 1998. In 1994 Mr. Penn stepped down as President at which time, Ellen Burstyn, Harvey Keitel and Al Pacino formed the Presidential Troika beginning in 1994 and remain as such currently. Estelle Parsons served as Artistic Director from 1998 until the summer of 2003. There were no Artistic Directors in New York for 2003/04. Beginning in the Fall of 2004 Carlin Glynn, Lee Grant and Stephen Lang shared the duties of Artistic Director for 2 years. Carlin Glynn and Lee Grant served as co-Artistic Directors in New York through 2007. Ellen Burstyn is currently the Artistic Director in New York.
In 1967, the Actors Studio opened its only branch in West Hollywood, California. It is currently run by Martin Landau and Mark Rydell.
For both the New York and West Hollywood Studios, the Executive Director is currently Deborah Dixon, who is based in New York City. Brenda Hearing is the New York Studio Administrator and Helen Sanders is the West Coast General Manager.
HOW DOES THE ACTORS STUDIO CHOOSE ITS MEMBERS?
All members of The Actors Studio have been invited into membership after passing successfully through a series of auditions. Once they are invited into membership, they are able to participate in any of the activities as well as use the facilities to advance their talent. Any professional actor over 18 years of age is eligible to audition. This consists of a five minute scene. Actors are advised to choose contemporary material close to themselves in age and experience. Auditions are presided over by Board members and long time members of the Studio. Those interested in auditions in New York may email questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the New York Audition Hot Line number at 212. 946-5768. For interest in auditioning in Los Angeles please call that office for further information at 323.654-7125.
International Auditioners are welcome to audition only if they have already relocated to the New York area or Los Angeles area. Actors from other countries must already be living close to, not just visiting, New York City or Los Angeles in order to request for an audition.
HOW DOES THE ACTOR BENEFIT FROM THE ACTORS STUDIO?
Once admitted to membership, the actor is free to use all the facilities of the Studio in New York and Los Angeles. Members of The Studio enjoy a number of luxuries not usually available to actors in the commercial theatre. They are free to choose their own material – classical, contemporary, published, unpublished, novel, short story, screenplay, teleplay, poem, song, dance, musical, opera, ballet, etc. The actors can also write their own material. He or she is free to pick their own part and partners, and no longer waits to be cast by others. The actor now has a home in which to work. He or she can take as much rehearsal time as necessary and can show the work, either undirected or directed. The work is commented on by members present at the session, and guidance is given by the moderator. Moderators have included; Ellen Burstyn, Frank Corsaro, Carlin Glynn, Lee Grant, William Greaves, Salome Jens, Elia Kazan, Harvey Keitel, Elizabeth Kemp, Jacqueline Knapp, Martin Landau, Stephen Lang, Andreas Manolikakis, Vivian Nathan, Al Pacino, Estelle Parsons, Arthur Penn, Sydney Pollack, Mark Rydell, Gene Saks, Christopher Walken, Eli Wallach, and Shelley Winters, among many others.
Activities and participation in any activities at the Actors Studio are for members only. To become a member you MUST pass successfully through a series of auditions and be invited in. Please see our Audition Info and Guideline pages for greater information.
DOES THE ACTORS STUDIO OFFER COURSES OR CLASSES TO ANYONE THAT IS NOT A MEMBER?
No, The Actors Studio does not offer courses or classes for non-members to apply and pay for. It is a “studio” where only its’ members can use the facilities to work in private on scenes, characters, plays,
projects, alone or with other members. This is self-directed work. There are other organizations that offer courses that you pay for, such as an “acting class”. The Actors Studio is not structured to operate this way. It is not a commercial operation. The Actors Studio has been likened to be like a gymnasium for athletes. Athletes go to their gym to improve their talent, skills and techniques and the members of The Actors Studio go to the Studio to work out for the same purposes. Membership is gained solely through a free audition process. If you pass successfully through the series of auditions, you will be invited to join the membership, for free.
DOES STUDIO WORK EVER GO FURTHER THAN THE SESSIONS?
If the work shows merit, members are encouraged to develop it further with varying stages of exposure culminating with a “project” which is a fully rehearsed, staged with minimal production values, open to the public version. A large number of Studio projects have gone on to considerable commercial success: A Hatful of Rain, The Rose Tattoo, End as a Man, East of Eden, Night of the Iguana, The Zoo Story, The Death of Bessie Smith, Sundown Beach, Any Wednesday, Marathon ’33, The World of Beebee Fenstermaker, Camino Real and Sly Fox. The plays Company and Twigs came out of the Studio in Los Angeles and went to Broadway, as well as The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas which was developed at the Studio in New York.
HAS THE ACTORS STUDIO EVER GONE COMMERCIAL?
From 1948 to 1952 The Actors Studio Television Series, a pioneering experiment in National “coaxial cable” broadcasting, produced 56 shows that consistently received excellent reviews. Mostly adaptations of short stories, each program was rehearsed by Studio members at the workshop for two weeks before being broadcast live. The Studio provided acting and directing talent, as well as stage managers. The series was honored with a Peabody Award. In 1962 The Actors Studio Theatre presented Strange Interlude, Marathon ’33, Dynamite Tonight, Baby Want a Kiss, Blues for Mr. Charlie and The Three Sisters on Broadway.
CAN OUTSIDERS OBSERVE THE WORK OF THE ACTORS STUDIO?
Professional Observers’ privileges are sometimes available to actors, directors and writers with sufficient theatrical experience. Those interested should apply in writing to the Administrative Offices
A very limited number of internships are available to actors and theatre professionals willing to volunteer a predetermined number of hours a week in return for the opportunity to observe a Studio session. You must apply in writing and request consideration for these limited opportunities.
ARE DIRECTORS AND WRITERS WELCOME AT THE ACTORS STUDIO?
Yes. The original Playwrights Unit was begun by Clifford Odets and Molly Kazan in 1952 and the first Directors Unit was formed by Lee Strasberg in 1960. William Inge started the Writers Unit at the Studio West and Jack Garfein formed the Directors Unit there. In the past, the Unit has been led by Elia Kazan, Joseph L. Mankiewicz and Arthur Penn. Patricia Bosworth is the current head of New York’s Playwrights/Directors Unit.
New York has also developed the Playwrights/Directors Work shop which focuses more on scene work than full length play readings. The Actors Studio West Playwrights/Directors Unit is supervised by Lyle Kessler and Mark Rydell.
Playwrights and Directors are encouraged to use Studio members in their readings but are permitted to use non-Studio members wherever desired in their respective readings. These readings are generally moderated by leading playwrights and directors.
Any interest must be expressed in writing to the attention of the PDU with your resume.
WHAT IS THE ACTORS STUDIO DRAMA SCHOOL MFA?
Beginning in the Fall of 1994, The Actors Studio engaged for the first time in its history in offering a Master of Fine Arts degree program in Acting, Directing and Playwriting with James Lipton as Program Chair and subsequent Dean while at the New School. After twelve years of residency, the Actors Studio Drama School re-established itself at Pace University with Andreas Manolikakis as the Chair of the program.
The Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University is a fully accredited academic three-year Masters Program. From the beginning, all MFA candidates study acting together to learn a shared “language” and technique. On parallel tracks to that “ensemble” experience, every student actor, director and writer, is undergoing intensive training in his or her own discipline, at the hands of one of the most distinguished acting, directing and writing faculties ever assembled. All core teachers are Lifetime Members of the Actors Studio and approved by the Board of Directors. The three-year program culminates in a fully professionally produced Repertory Season which is open to the profession and the public.
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For in depth information on the curriculum and admissions, please click on www.pace.edu/ActorsStudioMFA
WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE ACTORS STUDIO AND THE BRAVO TV SHOW CALLED INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO?
The Actors Studio is a separate organization, founded in 1947, that is an active studio where its’ professional members go to work in private in order to improve upon their craft and talent.
The Actors Studio created in 1994 a separate arm to its organization that is the 3 year MFA program called The Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University. As part of this 3 year MFA program at Pace University, the third year curriculum includes a series of craft seminars that in 1995 grew into the BRAVO Network TV show called INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO. This craft seminar series was originally developed as a series of seminars of senior Studio members discussing how they developed their talents and careers. James Lipton has hosted and enjoyed such guests as Paul Newman, Sally Field, Shelley Winters, Robert DeNiro, Alec Baldwin, Eli Wallach, Sidney Lumet, Al Pacino, Ellen Burstyn, Faye Dunaway, Dustin Hoffman and Norman Mailer among many other great luminaries.
In 2007, Mr. Lipton was awarded an EMMY Lifetime Achievement Award for hosting INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO since its inception in 1995. Please note that not every guest interviewed on the show is a member of The Actors Studio but perceived to be a prominent artist our students can learn from.