Robert Cohen (acting theorist)

Robert Cohen (acting theorist)

Robert Cohen (born 1938) is an American university professor, theatre director, playwright, and drama critic. He has written many books on theatre, two dramatic anthologies and many plays, among other works. Cohen has conducted advanced teaching residencies in numerous countries and much of the United States. He has been a professor of Drama at the University of California, Irvine since 1965 and now holds the position of Claire Trevor Professor of Drama at that institution. He has been called a Master Teacher by the Voice and Speech Trainers Association ["Voice and Speech Trainers Association Newsletter", Spring, 2000.] , has been praised as a "walking theatre directory and encyclopedia" by fellow teachers, [John Jamiel, Associate Professor, Wagner College and winner of an Acting Fellowship from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, 2001, quoted at] The Association for Theatre in Higher Education awarded Cohen the Career Achievement Award in 1999.


Robert Cohen was born in 1938 in Washington DC. His theatrical education began as an undergraduate student at Dartmouth College and UC Berkeley. He earned his doctorate in fine arts in 1965 at the Yale School of Drama. Soon after, Cohen joined the charter faculty of the new campus at the University of California, Irvine, where he served as the campus's founding departmental chair of drama for twenty-five years, and is now a Bren Fellow and the Claire Trevor Professor of Drama. Cohen is an accomplished director, scholar, drama critic, and theorist, and his approach to stage acting, which employs a system he refers to as "GOTE," has been acknowledged as one of the most widely used approaches to stage acting in use today. ["Los Angeles Times", June 4, 1994, page 1.] . Cohen resides in Laguna Beach, California with his wife Lorna. They have two children, Michael and Whitney.

Directing career

", "Carmen," "The Magic Flute," and "Pedro Gynt."

Cohen has also directed experimental works, opera, and a diverse variety of musical theatre productions from "My Fair Lady", and "Oklahoma!" to more complex works of Stephen Sondheim such as "Sweeney Todd", plus numerous professional productions at the Utah and Colorado Shakespeare festivals, the Summer Repertory Theatre in Santa Rosa, the Image Theatre in Boston, Theatre 40 in Beverly Hills and Stages Theatre Center in Hollywood.

In 2006, Cohen directed the premiere of his play "Machiavelli: The Art of Terror" the Hayworth Theatre in Los Angeles (photo, left).

Five of Cohen's productions have also been seen abroad, in Australia, Romania, Poland and the Czech Republic, most recently "Blue Shade" at the Romanian National Theatre Festival (November 2007).

Writing career

As a writer, Cohen published the leading theatre texts, "Acting One", "Acting Two" and "Acting Power", "Acting Professionally: Raw Facts about Careers in Acting", which are used in colleges, universities, and conservatories around the world and have been translated into Hungarian, Romanian, Finnish Estonian, Chinese and Korean. His texts explain and demonstrate a system of acting and theatre analysis called "GOTE," as well as presenting a series of theatre exercises ranging from beginner to advanced. Cohen's "Theatre", now in its eighth edition, has become one of the leading texts on the history of world theatre. Reviewing this book, the "Revue d'histoire du theatre" noted that: " [The Theatre] was written in a very clear fashion and an elegant and compelling style,… makes for a document that should be found in every library." ["Revue d'histoire du theatre", March, 2002.]

Cohen's other books include "Jean Giraudoux: Three Faces of Destiny," a study of the French playwright, a collection of theatre essays "More Power To You", an introduction to theatre, and more than two dozen journal articles and over two hundred play reviews. Many of his reviews are in "Plays International" published in London. His essays have appeared in "Theatre Journal", "Theatre Topics, Theatre Forum, Theatre Survey, Modern Drama, Theater der Zeit, Essays in Theatre, On Stage Studies, The Drama Review, Contemporary Literature, Contemporary Literary Criticism, Slavic and East European Performance, Experiment and Innovation", and "Dramatic Theory and Criticism".

Cohen's play, "The Prince", published by Dramatic Publishing Company, has been professionally produced in Long Beach, Pittsburgh, Budapest, and in staged readings in New York and Los Angeles; his dramatic translations ("The Bourgeois Gentleman", "The Misanthrope, Clizia, Tibis Law") and opera translations ("The Magic Flute, Carmen") have been both produced and published widely.

International Reputation as Lecturer

Internationally, Cohen has lectured and/or conducted multi-day “Acting Power” residencies at the Theatre Academy of Bucharest (Romania), the Korean National University for the Arts (Seoul), the Shanghai Theatre Academy (China), the University of Ghana (Legon), the National Theatre of Ghana (Accra), the Hungarian National Theatre and Film Academy (Budapest), the Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts, the Hong Kong Repertory Theatre, the Queensland Institute of Technology (Brisbane, Australia), the Sibiu International Theatre Festival (Romania), the Estonian Theatre Union (Tallinn), Teatterikorkeakoulu (the Finnish National Theatre Academy, Helsinki), the University of Jyvaskala (Finland), the University of Tampere (Finland), the University of Costa Rica (San Jose), the Pécs National Theatre (Hungary), the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Pécs), the International Amateur Theatre Association (headquartered in Copenhagen, event took place in Tampere, Finland), the Association of British Columbia Drama Educators (Vancouver), the National Theatre of Cluj (Romania), the Babes Bolyai University (Romania), the International Stanislavskij Symposium (Stockholm), and the Royal Dramatic Theatre (Stockholm). [ [ Robert Cohen : Teaching Philosophy ] ] In the United States, Cohen has given keynote speeches at six national and regional acting conferences, and conducted invited multi-day acting residencies at the Actors’ Center (New York City), the Alliance Theatre Conservatory (Atlanta), the Coconut Grove Playhouse (Miami), the Royal Shakespeare Company festival at Davison College (North Carolina), plus national conferences of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education and the American Alliance for Theatre in Education and regional conferences of the Northwest, Southwest, New England, Texas, South Carolina, and Georgia theatre conferences – along with more than two dozen colleges and universities.

G.O.T.E Sheet

The methods that Cohen developed in his ground-breaking approach to the training of the actor are represented by the word "GOTE." Cohen's GOTE Sheet consists of four elements of acting, each represented by a letter in the acronym "GOTE":

:Goal:Other characters:Tactics:Expectations.

Robert Cohen’s unique approach to stage acting has become one of the most widely used in America today. ["Los Angeles Times", June 4, 1994, p. 1]

See also

*UC Berkeley
*UC Irvine
*Yale School of Drama
*Jean Giraudoux


Original plays

*The Prince (2004)
*Mobius Strip (2000)

Play translations

*Tibi's Law
*The Misanthrope
*Pedro's Gynt
*The Bourgeois Gentleman
*The Plaie Called Corpus Christi: The Beginnings

Opera translations

*The Magic Flute


Cohen has published scholarly articles in the following:
*Theatre Journal
*Theatre Topics
*Theatre Forum
*Theatre Survey
*Contemporary Literary Criticism
*Modern Drama
*Theater der Zeit
*Essays in Theatre
*On Stage Studies
*The Drama Review
*Contemporary Literature
*Slavic and East European Performance
*Experiment and Innovation
*Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism


*Acting Professionally: Raw Facts about Careers in Acting
*Acting One
*Acting Two (formerly Advanced Acting)
*Acting Power
*Acting in Shakespeare
*More Power to You
*Dramatic Anthologies
*Creative Play Direction
*Giraudoux: Three Faces of Destiny


External links

* [ Robert Cohen Drama]

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