Directing à la Kazan

On director Elia Kazan (acclaimed stage and film director of successes such as A Streetcar Named Desire, Death of a Salesman, and On the Waterfront):

“Stimulation and dissimulation were his twin talents. ‘He would send one actor to listen to a particular piece of jazz, another a certain novel, another to see a psychiatrist, and another he would simply kiss,’ [Arthur] Miller recalled. During rehearsals, according to Miller, Kazan ‘grinned a lot but said as little as possible.’

‘Instinctively, when he had something  important to tell an actor, he would huddle with him privately rather than instruct before the others, sensing that anything that really penetrates is always to some degree an embarrassment…A mystery grew up around what he might be thinking, and this threw the actor back upon himself.’ Kazan’s trick was to make his own ideas seem like the actors’ discoveries. ‘He let the actors to excite themselves with their own discoveries, which they would carry back to him like children offering some found object back to a parent.’

– Kazan on Directing, Foreward by John Lahr

This book was one of my Christmas gifts this year and I’m loving it. Recommended reading for those looking for insight into one of the great director’s methods.

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4 thoughts on “Directing à la Kazan

  1. The Studio@620( ) is premiering one of my plays this coming spring. I read this piece yesterday and ran out this morning to get this book for the director. Great timing…great book…great blog…great blogger…thank you.

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