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The Life Of Robert Lewis: Method Or Madness?

1004 words - 5 pages

Robert Lewis was one of the most reputable renaissance men of the theatre world, devoting much of his life to acting, teaching, directing, and writing. On March 15, 1906, Lewis was born in Brooklyn, New York, with the given name Robert Lewkowitz. From a young age, Lewis was fond of the arts. His first interest was music; he played the cello and took up his studies at the Institute of Musical Art In Manhattan and the Brooklyn Music School Settlement. In the 1920’s, Lewis decided to switch gears and he began to pursue acting. He first entered the theatre scene when he began acting with the Civic Repertory Theatre and Sue Hastings’ Marionette Company.
Lewis is well known for his contributions to Group Theatre and Actors Studio, along with his other workshop, teaching and acting endeavors. From 1931 to 1941, Robert Lewis acted for the Group Theatre, a theatre created by Lee Strasberg, Harold Clurman, and Cheryl Crawford. He served as one of the original members of the company. Lewis appeared in many of their plays during this decade. The Group Theatre worked under the principles of Konstantin Stanislavski and Eugene Vakhtangov. After the ultimate collapse of the Group Theatre, these ideas carried over to the Actors Studio. Before the Actors Studio was created, a project called the Dollar Top Theatre went underway but was never completed. The Actors Studio was developed by Robert Lewis in collaboration with Cheryl Crawford and Elia Kazan. It was an acting workshop created in 1947. Along with serving a great role in the creation of the Actors Studio, Robert Lewis also taught the Robert Lewis Theatre Workshop. This workshop ran from 1952 all the way up to 1997, which was the year of his passing. Not all of Lewis’s pursuits were successful, though. Robert Lewis Acting Company and the Robert Lewis Theatre Company were both launched but quickly failed. Not only did he create this long withstanding workshop, he also was a director at the Lincoln Repertory Training Program from 1961 to 1963. He was hired by Elia Kazan and Robert Whitehead. Also, Lewis earned the honor of teaching at the Yale School of Drama for intermittent time periods, lasting for 35 years. He also taught at Rice University during the latter years of his life. During his teaching ventures, he was able to instruct great actors such as Karl Malden, Marlon Brando, Maureen Stapleton, and Montgomery Clift.
While teaching consumed a great deal of Robert Lewis’s life, so did his career in directing and acting. In the 1930’s, Lewis took on directing jobs with the Group Theatre and the Federal Theatre Project, directing In New Kentucky (1934), Gods of Lightning (1939), My Heart’s in the Highlands (1939). While working with Group Theatre, Lewis starred in some of the plays. Some of these plays include Golden Boy and Waiting for Lefty. After the Group Theatre closed down, Lewis directed The Time of Your Life, Heavenly Express, Mexican Mural, and Five Alarm Waltz. While in California, Lewis...

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