In Method Acting and Its Discontents, Shonni Enelow provocatively argues that Method acting's positing of a fundamentally porous self was a source of deep anxiety in a culture focused on containment, an anxiety that left lasting traces on American drama and performance. In case studies of plays by Tennessee Williams and James Baldwin and a film by William Greaves, Enelow places Method acting alongside developments in psychology and psychoanalysis, philosophy, and the politics of American identity during the civil rights movement, demonstrating that the subversive possibilities of the Method are inseparable from its failures. Enelow's book, the first of its kind, is an exciting affirmation of how performance studies can yield insights into the larger culture.
Publisher: Northwestern University Press
Number of pages: 168
Weight: 249 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 13 mm
"Like a good acting class with a gifted teacher, Method Acting and Its Discontents is filled with mental and emotional surprises. Widely referenced in American popular culture, the Method is rarely cited evenhandedly. But like that acting teacher we were lucky to get or wish we had, Shonni Enelow confronts us with the unexplored subtexts. She gets at them by casting odd-couple partners in unexpected scenes: Tennessee Williams and Jean Genet, Jean-Martin Charcot and Marilyn Monroe, Lee Strasberg and almost everyone else, but especially James Baldwin. Like the best scene work, the results disclose much that we didn't previously know, not only about the scripts, but also about ourselves." --Joseph Roach, Yale University
"A fascinating account of the psychological and psychoanalytical ideologies which were manifested in Strasberg's Method acting approach in the late 1950s and early '60s. Shonni Enelow's painstaking cultural study positions the contradictions of Strasberg's method within a set of fraught cultural anxieties that permeate post-Second World War multicultural America and the ways in which Method acting was in conflict with new feminist and postcolonial discourses. Method Acting and Its Discontents provides the broader historical contextualizations and complexities at play in Strasberg's creation of a highly marketable but problematic set of ideas and asks all the nagging questions at which others have balked. This is essential reading for all theater scholars." --Mary Luckhurst, University of Melbourne