The 12th edition of “Acting is Believing,” authored by Dr. Kenneth L. Stilson, chair of The Jeanine Larson Dobbins Conservatory of Theatre and Dance at Southeast Missouri State University, has been ranked number one on Ezvid Wiki’s “Top 10 Acting Textbooks of 2018” wiki.
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“It’s an extraordinary honor to even be on the same list as Uta Hagen, Constantin Stanislavski, Stella Adler and Michael Shurtleff—nevertheless the number one book,” Stilson said. “These are all giants in the industry. It’s a real honor to be mentioned in the same list as them—very humbling.”
“Acting Is Believing” has been adopted by more than 150 universities and colleges around the world.
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Stilson is professor of acting, directing and musical theatre in Southeast’s Earl and Margie Holland College of Arts and Media. He played an instrumental role in building the professional training programs in theatre and dance at Southeast, which recently received accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST).
As a professional director, writer, and actor, Stilson has worked in such theatres as the Lincoln Center (New York City), American Academy of Dramatic Art/Hudson Theatre (Hollywood, California), Southern Repertory Theatre (New Orleans, Louisiana), Le Petite Theatre (New Orleans), Alabama Lyric Theatre, Stage West Theatre (Ft. Worth, Texas), Shakespeare in the Park (Ft. Worth, Texas), First Run Theatre (St. Louis, Missouri), University of Missouri’s Summer Repertory Theatre, Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival, Mississippi Shakespeare Festival and the Last Frontier Theatre Festival (Alaska).
From Shakespeare to modern musicals and plays, he also has directed scores of university theatre productions for Southeast Missouri State University, Texas Wesleyan University, Texas Woman’s University, Stetson University, The University of South Alabama, and The University of Missouri-Columbia. He co-wrote and produced “An American Hero” which was performed in July at the New York Musical Festival and won the Best of Festival Production Award. He has been an acting coach for 23 years, and he has many former students working professionally in theatre, film and television, including two who have recently won Obie Awards and Tony Awards.
Stilson directed and co-wrote the feature film, “Fire Lily,” for Victory Film Productions. The film is based on his own play, “Where the Lilies Grow,” winner of the Critic’s Choice Award at the Edward Albee/Yukon Pacific New Play Lab. “Fire Lily” was later produced by the American Academy of Dramatic Art in Hollywood, and it was adapted to the screenplay, “Fire Lily,” in 2006. Stilson directed that film, having co-written it with Fred Jones of the Southeast faculty and Shirlee Wilson. The film went on to win Best Feature Film, Best Cinematography and Best Actress at the American Artist Film Festival (Kansas City/New York City/Los Angeles), and it was an official entry at the Lakeside Film Festival in Michigan.
He also has published “Ezra Stone: A Theatrical Biography,” as well as numerous national and international articles on acting and theatre. His play, “The Cow and the Milk,” was produced as part of the Mizzou New Play Series, The Last Frontier Theatre Conference in Valdez, Alaska, and Southeast’s 2011-2012 Second Stage Series, and was selected as part of Focus Publishing’s anthology, “Best Monologues from the Last Frontier Theatre Conference, 2009-2012.”
His play, “Murphy’s Law,” won three major playwriting awards: 6th Annual Southwest Playwriting Competition (Actors’ Equity Association), the First Run Theatre’s 2013 Annual Playwriting Festival and Excellence in Playwriting Award from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, where it was recently presented as part of the Regional VI annual festival. “Murphy’s Law” premiered in April 2013 at Southeast’s River Campus.
Stilson earned a doctoral degree in theatre in 1991 and a Master of Arts in theatre in 1987, both from the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he studied under the tutelage of the late Dr. Larry D. Clark. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in theatre from Southeast Missouri State University.
Before returning to Southeast in 2001, Stilson served as head of acting/directing programs at the University of South Alabama, Texas Wesleyan University and Stetson University (Florida), and as an instructor of theatre at Tulane University.
He continues to serve in leadership roles on numerous national committees, and, over the past 15 years, has presented master classes and presentations at various regional and national conventions and at numerous universities, colleges and high schools.