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Lyle Kessler is an Americanmarker playwright and screenwriter.He is married to actress Margaret Ladd.


Lyle Kessler was born and raised in Philadelphiamarker, Pennsylvaniamarker. Initially an actor he appeared in the Philadelphia premier of Waiting for Godot opposite Bruce Dern. He studied acting with Lee Strasberg and accepted into the Director's Unit of the Actors Studiomarker, wrote and directed his first one act play, The Viewing which he subsequently directed at the Lucille Lortel Theater.

Kessler's films include Orphans directed by Alan J. Pakula and starring Matthew Modine and Albert Finney. He wrote and executive produced The Saint of Fort Washington for Warner Brothers, directed by Tim Hunter, starring Danny Glover and Matt Dillon. A partial list of his other films include, Gladiator with Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Brian Dennehy, and Touched written and co-starring Mr. Kessler, Robert Hays, and Ned Beatty.

Mr. Kessler's plays include The Watering Place, produced on Broadway, Robbers at the American Place Theatre, Possession at EST and Unlisted at L.A's Tiffany Theatre. Orphans was directed by Gary Sinese at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre and then moved to its successful New York run. Albert Finney won the Oliver Award in London's West End production. Orphans is performed continually in almost every country in the world. Mr. Kessler's plays have been published by Random House, Grove Press and Samuel French Inc..

Kessler and Mark Rydell co-moderate the Writer/Directors Unit of the Actors Studiomarker West. Mr. Kessler served as the Director of the Sundance Screenwriter's Lab. He also participated in the Sundance Screenwriters Conference in Hungary, working with writers from all over Eastern Europe.

Mr. Kessler was awarded a Rockefeller Foundation Playwriting Grant and won the New York State Council on the Arts Playwriting Award.

Mr. Kessler and his wife actress Margaret Ladd are Founders of the Imagination Workshop located at UCLA'S Neuropsychiatric Institute. Using a unique Artistic Methodology, actors, writers and directors create scenes and original plays with psychiatric patients, veterans and 'At Risk' students in the L.A Public Schools.

Professional seminar

In 2009, Kessler, working with actor Martin Landau and director Mark Rydell, have teamed up to produce an education seminar, The Total Picture Seminar, a unique two-day event covering the disciplines of acting, directing and writing for film. The three have worked together as a team for many decades at The Actors Studiomarker teaching and coaching professional actors, writers, and directors. They are now bringing their industry experience, personal success, as well as a life time of teaching experience to a wider audience.


  • Orphans (1983)
  • Robbers (1987)
  • Possessions (1978)
  • The Watering Place (1969)
  • Burning Bright
  • The Family Circle
  • The Engagement



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