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Kevin Kline, Patti LuPone, Mandy Patinkin, and many more lend their voices to this comprehensive guide to the craft of theater.
Kevin Kline, Patti LuPone, Mandy Patinkin, and many more lend their voices to this comprehensive guide to the craft of theater.
339 backers pledged $27,188 to help bring this project to life.

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$27,188

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STRETCH GOALS: BOOK TOUR STOPS

As we reach the following amounts, we will add book tour stops in the following cities, dates TBD, which will each include a reading, discussion, Q&A, signing with Isaac Klein, and afterparty. Isaac will be joined at each event by students and colleagues of Gerald Freedman.

$25,000: NEW YORK CITY ✅

$27,127: WINSTON-SALEM, NC

$30,000: WASHINGTON, DC

More stretch goals / stops will be announced if we reach $30,000. Let us know where you'd like us to go!

The School of Doing is a new book by Isaac Klein that chronicles the craft and teachings of world-renowned theater director and educator Gerald Freedman, featuring contributions from many of his illustrious students and collaborators, including Debbie Allen, Christine Baranski, Neal Bledsoe, Victoria Bussert, Anna Camp, John Cullum, Graciela Daniele, William Daniels, Dane DeHaan, Olympia Dukakis, Jules Fisher, Elizabeth Franz, Paul Gemignani, Bernard Gersten, Lee Grant, Sheldon Harnick, George Hearn, Desmond Heeley, Hal Holbrook, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Stacy Keach, Kevin Kline, Jake Lacy, Carol Lawrence, Ming Cho Lee, Patti LuPone, Billy Magnussen, Brian Murray, Jack O’Brien, Austin Pendleton, Missi Pyle, Charlotte Rae, Chita Rivera, Gaye Taylor Upchurch, Alfred Uhry, and Sam Waterston.

Gerald's mentee Mandy Patinkin wrote a beautiful foreword!

Gerald Freedman, Olympia Dukakis, Mandy Patinkin, and Missi Pyle in a talkback with students, onstage at the Gerald Freedman Theater. Photo by Brent LaFever.
Gerald Freedman, Olympia Dukakis, Mandy Patinkin, and Missi Pyle in a talkback with students, onstage at the Gerald Freedman Theater. Photo by Brent LaFever.

Gerald Freedman was instrumental in creating some of the most important theater of the last century. As a young man, he went back and forth between directing stars such as Jack Lemmon, Joan Crawford, and Humphrey Bogart for the screen in Hollywood, and working onstage in New York with Jerome Robbins, for whom he assistant directed the original West Side Story. He served as Artistic Director of the New York Shakespeare Festival, now known as Shakespeare in the Park, and directed numerous star-studded productions to critical acclaim. He banded together with Bernard Gersten and Joseph Papp to found the Public Theater, and directed the world premiere of the musical Hair for its inaugural production. He also served as Co-Artistic Director of The Acting Company with John Houseman, Artistic Director at Stratford’s American Shakespeare Theater in Connecticut, and Artistic Director at Cleveland’s Great Lakes Theater. He directed celebrated productions on and off Broadway, won an Obie Award, and was the first American to direct at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater in London.  

Even with these extraordinary achievements, Gerald’s greatest work happened in the classroom. He studied with masters like Alvina Krause, Harold Clurman, and Robert Lewis. He went on to teach acting and directing at Northwestern, Yale, Juilliard, and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where he became Dean of the School of Drama in 1991, and proceeded to turn the program into one of the most highly-ranked and well-respected drama conservatories in the United States.

Gerald with students at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.
Gerald with students at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

The defining mission of Gerald’s life was the training of first-rate theater artists. In pursuit of this objective, he broke down the all-too-often nebulous realm of drama into practical, accessible components, and worked tirelessly to make each element clear to every last one of his students.

I am one such student. In the eleven years since my graduation, Gerald has remained my mentor. I continue to learn from him every day as I apply his lessons in my work.

Gerald and me in his North Carolina home in 2016.
Gerald and me in his North Carolina home in 2016.

In February 2011, at the age of 83, Gerald suffered a series of strokes. His life has changed significantly since then. Gerald remains in decent health and good spirits, but his strokes have left him hindered by aphasia. He is now Dean Emeritus at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, having retired from teaching and directing. 

Over the last decade, Gerald and I often discussed the prospect of writing a book together about his teaching. Soon after his strokes, we agreed it was time to get to work. We were reminded of life’s fleeting preciousness, and now that Gerald was retired, he needed a new project.

Over the last four and a half years, I spent countless hours poring over mountains of old notebooks, articles, speeches, transcripts, videos, and audio recordings of Gerald in action in the classroom and rehearsal hall. Meanwhile, I spent months working with Gerald in his North Carolina home, and together we edited and refined my findings.

Gerald reviewing the manuscript of our book.
Gerald reviewing the manuscript of our book.

I conducted interviews with 130 of Gerald’s colleagues and former students, and orchestrated their voices in the hope of corroborating and clarifying the many tenets of his training. 

This book is a tapestry of myriad pieces, woven together in the order and form that I hope most effectively convey Gerald’s curriculum. There are chapters on acting, directing, text analysis, comedy technique, camera technique, Shakespeare, musical theater, pedagogy, theater design, and show business itself.

Gerald is more than my teacher. Gerald is more than my mentor. Gerald is the person whose wisdom I hear most often in my head, and hold most closely in my heart. Gerald has singular, powerful insights, unavailable in any other theater text. His distillation of the creative process is a vital resource for every theater professional and aspiring student. Many of his lessons are invaluable not only for the performing arts, but for life itself.

Over his years as a director, teacher, dean, leader, mentor, colleague, and friend, Gerald Freedman has championed so many of us. It is my supreme honor to champion him, and to share his great wisdom with the world.

Cover design by David Litman, Photo by Donald Dietz.
Cover design by David Litman, Photo by Donald Dietz.

I am raising funds to cover the costs of designing, editing, proofreading, marketing, copyrighting, and printing the book. While funds raised on Kickstarter must go toward facilitating the project, 50% of future profits will be donated to the Gerald Freedman Excellence Endowed Fund, which supports students in need in the School of Drama at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

As a supporter of this campaign, you can choose an eBook and/or paperback copy in multiple quantities. You can even get a limited edition paperback signed by Gerald Freedman himself, via a bookplate label illustrated by John Bowhers.

Bookplate label signed by Gerald Freedman, which will be mounted elegantly in the limited edition paperback.
Bookplate label signed by Gerald Freedman, which will be mounted elegantly in the limited edition paperback.

Thanks very much for your interest in The School of Doing: Lessons from theater master Gerald Freedman! With your help, this long-dreamed-of book will soon be a reality which Gerald's students of the past, present, and future can enjoy for years to come.

"If you’re lucky, somebody says something that lands, that makes a light bulb go off in your soul, that connects with you for the rest of your life. And for me that somebody is Gerald Freedman." -Mandy Patinkin

"A fascinating read. I loved it, especially the lessons of Gerald Freedman, who was the first to open my mind to myself." -Chita Rivera

“Gerald Freedman is the gentle, affable giant upon whose shoulders generations of exceptional theatre people stand securely and proudly! He is ever and always worth listening to!" -Jack O'Brien

“Wonderfully informative and beautifully written. All lovers of theatre will love this book.” -Stacy Keach

"Reading this How To Manual was like being back in class with Jerry. He could be practical and inspirational at the same time. Jerry Freedman was the most articulate, succinct, pragmatic but entertaining and loving teacher from whom I learned the craft. Actors at any level of their career will find this book invaluable." -Christine Baranski

“I think the world has been waiting for a beautiful book about Gerald Freedman. Because Gerald is a beautiful soul that finds expression in beautiful work and in a person with a beautiful personality. All of this is richly evoked in Isaac Klein's eloquent, absorbing, and necessary book.” -Austin Pendleton

“If you are seeking the epitome of professional training for the theater, you must pause mightily before the name of Jerry Freedman. This is a man of distinguished credentials with a spectrum of knowledge and unsurpassed experience. Don’t miss a rare opportunity to yes, “collaborate” with a youthful, energetic, highly regarded man of the world of theater.” -Joseph Papp (Reprinted with permission from a letter written in 1991.)

Risks and challenges

While work on the manuscript is complete, it will take additional time and effort to fine-tune the book with copy editing, proofreading, formatting, designing, printing, and reviewing.

We expect to have our review copies printed by mid September, which will give us over a month to make any necessary fixes, troubleshoot any unanticipated issues, and get the finalized books printed and shipped (and/or emailed, for eBooks) to our backers in November 2017.

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Funding period

- (28 days)