BARON BOOK UNEARTHS LOST HISTORY OF TODAY’S MODERN ACTING
Mention American acting styles in conversation and most people will assume you are talking about Method acting. But film historian Dr. Cynthia Baron, theatre and film, will be quick to point out that the Method made famous by Lee Strasberg and his most famous pupil, Marilyn Monroe, held sway for only a few years and was soon abandoned by most actors.
What came before and has endured is Modern acting, which was developed by a number of dedicated teachers and theater companies and reached fruition in the 1930s and ‘40s. Baron’s latest book, “Modern Acting: The Lost Chapter of American Film and Theatre,” introduces us to the form of acting we know today, setting the record straight and giving credit to all those “unsung heroes” who worked mostly behind the scenes to create a style suited to the changing face of drama. Published by Palgrave Macmillan, “Modern Acting” is part of its Palgrave Studies in Screen Industries and Performance series.
In tracing the genesis of what came to be known as Modern acting, Baron found that a number of factors played into the need for a new approach. With the shift to modern life, the style of drama began to change at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. There was much discussion about what kinds of plays were needed for society and for the different nations. Playwrights such as Ibsen, Chekhov and O’Neill came to prominence, and theater spaces and stagecraft adapted to better present the more interior, intimate works. And movies came onto the scene in a big way, especially with the decline of Broadway in the mid-1930s and the migration West of out-of-work actors seeking jobs in radio and film.