Elaine Stritch, Edward Albee on Working With Stella Adler

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Elaine Stritch credits her acting career to Stella Adler.

“Thank God I got her as a teacher,” Stritch said at a panel at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting on Monday night. “I want to be Stella when I grow up,” she continued. “And I think I am.”

Stritch joined by playwright Edward Albee, Stella’s daughter Ellen Adler, actor Betsy Parrish, and co-founder of Woolly Mammoth Theater Company Howard Shalwitz in an event moderated by the studio’s artistic director and president and Adler’s grandson Tom Oppenheim. The lively discussion covered topics of training and the next generation of actors.

“I don’t like all of the talk about the theories of performance,” Albee said. “Some people are better at it than others…There are some people who are never going to be any good at it no matter how hard they try.”

Albee went on to talk about his friendship with Samuel Beckett and how the two never discussed the theories of playwriting. They just did it because “that’s the way our minds worked.”

“Approach your craft the way you approach your craft and figure out if that is an approach to the craft or not,” Albee advised actors. “You have to do it for yourself.”

When an audience member expressed a concern about the laziness of the young generation and how that is hurting actors, Stritch responded passionately. “How do you know? You don’t know that,” Stritch said.

Stritch also addressed her own larger-than-life personality and how it can be off-putting to some people. “I don’t scare good people,” she said. “Don’t be afraid that you’re scary…I don’t think you’re afraid of great talent.”