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Isaac Butler: The Method w/ A.O. Scott

February 2, 2022 @ 7:00 pm - 7:45 pm

$10 – $35
“Elegantly written, filled with remarkable detail and incisive commentary.” —Nathan Lane

About this event

Event guidelines:

  • All guests must be vaccinated to attend, and must provide proof of vaccination with either Excelsior Pass or vaccination card in order to enter event.
  • All attendees must wear a face mask at all times.
  • Tickets are limited to restrict capacity.
  • Additional copies of the book will be available for purchase at the event.
  • Home address is collected for contact tracing purposes; it will not be used otherwise.
  • This event will be livestreamed via YouTube live here:
  • As a reminder: If you are not feeling well, please do not come to the event; email us and we’ll work it out.

If you have any questions regarding these guidelines or to request accessibility accommodations, please contact


From the coauthor of The World Only Spins Forward, the first intellectual and cultural history of Method acting—an ebullient story of creative discovery and the birth of classic Hollywood.

On stage and screen, we know a great performance when we see it. But how do actors draw from their bodies and minds to turn their selves into art? What is the craft of being an authentic fake? More than a century ago, amid tsarist Russia’s crushing repression, one of the most talented actors ever, Konstantin Stanislavski, asked these very questions, reached deep into himself, and emerged with an answer. How his “system” remade itself into the Method and forever transformed American theater and film is an unlikely saga that has never before been fully told.

Now, critic and theater director Isaac Butler chronicles the history of the Method in a narrative that transports readers from Moscow to New York to Los Angeles, from The Seagull to A Streetcar Named Desire to Raging Bull. He traces how a cohort of American theater makers—including feuding mavericks Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg—refashioned Stanislavski’s ideas and shaped generations of actors, enabling Hollywood to become the global dream factory it is today. Some performers the Method would uplift; others it would destroy. Long after its midcentury heyday, it lives on as one of the most influential—and misunderstood—ideas in American culture.

Studded with marquee names—from Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe, and Elia Kazan, to James Baldwin, Ellen Burstyn, and Dustin Hoffman—The Method is a spirited history of ideas and a must-read for any fan of Broadway or American film.


Isaac Butler is the coauthor (with Dan Kois) of The World Only Spins Forward: The Ascent of Angels in America, which NPR named one of the best books of 2018. Butler’s writing has appeared in New York magazine, Slate, the Guardian, American Theatre, and other publications. For Slate, he created and hosted Lend Me Your Ears, a podcast about Shakespeare and politics, and currently co-hosts Working, a podcast about the creative process. His work as a director has been seen on stages throughout the United States. He is the co-creator, with Darcy James Argue and Peter Nigrini, of Real Enemies, a multimedia exploration of conspiracy theories in the American psyche, which was named one of the best live events of 2015 by the New York Times and has been adapted into a feature-length film. Butler holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of Minnesota and teaches theater history and performance at the New School and elsewhere. He lives in Brooklyn. Photo credit: Adalena Kavanagh

A.O. Scott is a chief film critic at The New York Times and the author of BETTER LIVING THROUGH CRITICISM: HOW TO THINK ABOUT ART, PLEASURE, BEAUTY, AND TRUTH. He teaches at Wesleyan University and lives in Brooklyn with his family.


February 2, 2022
7:00 pm - 7:45 pm
$10 – $35
Event Category:


Books are Magic
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St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church
157 Montague Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201 United States
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