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In the galleries: Stella Adler's notes on Tennessee Williams's 'The Glass Menagerie'

By Courtney Reed

Stella Adler's notes on the character of Amanda in Tennessee Williams's play 'The Glass Menagerie'.
Stella Adler's notes on the character of Amanda in Tennessee Williams's play 'The Glass Menagerie'.
Stella Adler was considered one of this country’s most important teachers of the principles of acting, character analysis, and script analysis. Adler began acting when she was just four years old, alongside her parents, Jacob and Sara Adler, in a production of the Yiddish play Broken Hearts by Z. Libin. Adler performed throughout her youth and young adult years in the New York Yiddish Theater, in which her parents were active. She later became associated with the Group Theatre through Harold Clurman, whom she married in 1943.

In 1934 Adler studied with Russian actor and director Konstantin Stanislavsky, who would remain an important influence on her throughout her life. Three years later, she moved to Hollywood and acted in films for six years before returning to New York. Her career as a teacher began in the 1940s at the Erwin Piscator Workshop at the New School for Social Research. She left the faculty in 1949 to establish the Stella Adler Theatre Studio, which was later renamed the Stella Adler Studio of Acting.

Adler continued to teach acting for more than 40 years and counted Robert De Niro, Marlon Brando, Warren Beatty, Eva Marie Saint, and many other prominent actors among her students. Adler’s archive, filled with materials related to her teaching career, was acquired with the papers of Harold Clurman in 2004.

The Stella Adler Studio of Acting continues to flourish today as one of the most prominent centers in this country for the study of acting. Adler’s archive is filled with notes from her 40-year career as a teacher, including her analysis of the character of Amanda Wingfield in Tennessee Williams’s play The Glass Menagerie.

In her character dissection, Adler notes the pressure of being a lady that Amanda Wingfield feels in The Glass Menagerie. Adler explains Amanda’s bad behavior as her desperate attempt to clutch onto a sentimental world of charm and poetry, instead of living within the realistic world. Adler’s teaching notes can be viewed in the Ransom Center’s current exhibition, Culture Unbound: Collecting in the Twenty-First Century.

In the Galleries: "Lark and Termite"

By Courtney Reed

'Lark And Termite' by Jayne Anne Phillips
'Lark And Termite' by Jayne Anne Phillips
Born in West Virginia in 1952, writer Jayne Anne Phillips published her first story collection in 1976. The publication of Black Tickets in 1979 prompted Nobel Laureate Nadine Gordimer to call Phillips “the best short story writer since Eudora Welty.” Phillips’s subsequent publications, which have been praised for their poetic prose and in-depth examinations of war and family dynamics, have continued to garner critical acclaim and major literary prizes, including her most recent novel, Lark and Termite, which was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2009. Materials related to Phillips and Lark and Termite are highlighted in the Ransom Center’s exhibition Culture Unbound: Collecting in the Twenty-First Century.

Lark and Termite explores the effects of the Korean War on a soldier and his family back home in West Virginia. Termite, the disabled son of the soldier, and Lark, his half sister and caretaker, are the central characters of the novel. The novel shifts between narrators, settings, and time.

Inspired by a series of investigative news articles published in 1999 about the No Gun Ri Massacre during the Korean War, Phillips incorporates the incident into the plot of Lark and Termite. During the massacre, an unknown number of Korean refugees were strafed from the air by machine guns at close range by U.S. soldiers. The bridge where the massacre occurred is the setting of critical scenes in the novel, and bridges and trains bear strong symbolism throughout the story. Phillips kept news clippings about the incident in her files related to the novel, and one clipping that includes an image of the bridge is displayed in the exhibition.

Further significance of trains and tunnels are found throughout the novel. Displayed in the exhibition is a typescript page from a section of the book narrated by Termite, which demonstrates the boy’s attraction to trains and bridges. Termite spends much of his time in a rail yard tunnel listening to the roar of the trains overhead.

Listen to Jayne Anne Phillips read two selections from Lark and Termite.

Photo Friday

By Jennifer Tisdale

Each Friday, the Ransom Center shares photos from throughout the week that highlight a range of activities and collection holdings. We hope you enjoy these photos that reveal some of the everyday happenings at the Center.

A student walks past the Ransom Center’s etching of Eadweard Muybridge’s 'Horse in Motion.' Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.
A student walks past the Ransom Center’s etching of Eadweard Muybridge’s 'Horse in Motion.' Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.
Volunteer Kathleen Dowling handles a vest from the Gertrude Stein personal effects collection, working to create custom interior supports for the vest for display. Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.
Volunteer Kathleen Dowling handles a vest from the Gertrude Stein personal effects collection, working to create custom interior supports for the vest for display. Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.
A visitor to the Ransom Center’s exhibition 'Culture Unbound: Collecting in the Twenty-First Century.' Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.
A visitor to the Ransom Center’s exhibition 'Culture Unbound: Collecting in the Twenty-First Century.' Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.

View photos from "Wild at Heart" event

By Christine Lee

Actors from Different Stages Theater Company perform scenes from 'Night of the Iguana' by Tennessee Williams at the 'Wild at Heart' exhibition opening.
Actors from Different Stages Theater Company perform scenes from 'Night of the Iguana' by Tennessee Williams at the 'Wild at Heart' exhibition opening.

The Harry Ransom Center celebrated the opening of its exhibitions, Becoming Tennessee Williams and Culture Unbound: Collecting in the Twenty-First Century, with the “Wild at Heart” event on Friday, February 11. Guests enjoyed informal tours of the exhibition, readings of “Night of the Iguana” by Different Stages Theater Company, cocktails courtesy of Balcones Distilling, hors d’oeuvres, and more.

Pam Berry was the lucky winner of the “Wild at Heart” Prize. Congrats, Pam!

View photos in front of the streetcar.

View photos from the reception.

Become a member to receive complimentary admission and valet parking at exhibition opening parties. Members of the Harry Ransom Center receive advance notice and invitations to lectures, programs, exhibition previews, and other exclusive members-only events throughout the year, including opportunities for behind-the-scenes glimpses into the Center and its holdings.  Join or learn more.

Attendee Pam Berry won the 'Wild at Heart' Prize.
Attendee Pam Berry won the 'Wild at Heart' Prize.

Opening today: View video preview of "Culture Unbound: Collecting in the Twenty-First Century"

By Alicia Dietrich

Culture Unbound: Collecting in the Twenty-First Century can be seen in the Ransom Center Galleries on Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended Thursday hours to 7 p.m. On Saturdays and Sundays the galleries are open from noon to 5 p.m. The galleries are closed on Mondays.