Note to Acting Teachers

Richard Boleslavsky was the first person to dispense Stanislavski's Acting System (The System) to American actors. He was a student of Stanislavski's and when The Moscow Art Theatre came to New York in 1923, he gave, with Stanislavski's permission, the first lectures about The System in America. Boleslavsky was then asked to stay in New York and teach The System. At The American Laboratory Theatre (The Lab), Boleslavsky, along with Maria Ouspenskaya, taught and lectured American actors. Harold Clurman, Stella Adler and Lee Strasburg were among the students who would be introduced to The System at The Lab. Also in 1923, Boleslavsky wrote the first of six magazine articles that would be gathered together in 1933 as Acting: The First Six Lessons. The idea behind these lectures and the book was to offer accessibility to the tools Stanislavski had discovered and developed. Boleslavsky made these available to any actor or director who was interested in learning more about his or her craft.

My intention from the beginning of this adaptation has been to remain as faithful to Boleslavsky as was possible. In 2010 a new edition of Acting: The First Six Lessons (ed. Rhonda Blair) was published. This edition includes two sets of lectures Boleslavsky gave in the 1920s. These lectures, I believe, have never been published before. In this, the fourth draft of this play, I have culled these lectures and used them to subtly reshape some of his lessons, thereby reinforcing Boleslavsky with more Boleslavsky.

Six Lessons may be a play, but it is adapted from an acting text. Six Lessons, because it is a play, is an unusual tool to teach acting. Your students will not read this book, discuss it and do a few exercises. Your students will memorize these monologues, memorize these scenes and memorize these lessons. They will memorize all of this information which they will use over and over again throughout their theatre lives. I may have organized this information, but the information was put forth by one of the most important acting teachers of the 20th Century, Richard Boleslavsky. In the same spirit as Acting: The First Six Lessons, I hope my adaptation will offer young actors and directors a door through which to begin their journeys as future theatre artists.

Use Six Lessons in your acting class

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