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5 great books about acting

4 mins
books books acting improvisation
Baptiste Coulange
Socially acceptable maths and improv nerd
Table of Contents

Here are 5 excellent books about acting. More than being only to learn how to acts, these books explore human behaviors and how to bring these behaviors on stage. Also, if you don’t perform, since improvisation is anywhere there is human communication you would be surprised how much you can learn from them.

Audition: Everything an Actor Needs to Know to Get the Part

Michael Shurtleff has been casting director for Broadway, and this is his book on advice on how to succeed at an audition. I was surprised when I first read it how most of his advice goes way beyond the theater world. They are useful for improv of course but also to understand and be more present in our day to day relationships.

allow anything to be possible ; make choices that give you the maximum possible involvement . If there’s a possibility , however unlikely , however remote , that you might love the other character in the scene , say yes to the possibility . There’s more feeling in potential love than there is in the impossibility of it . Feeling is what an actor is looking for ; why not pick the most ? Shurtleff, Michael. Audition: Everything an Actor Needs to Know to Get the Part

Respect for Acting

Uta Hagen is a well-known actress. Her book has a strong connexion with Audition, but it’s written from the point of view of an actress instead of a director. She gives much valuable advice on how to be more present on stage.

The continuing job of learning to find out who you really are, of learning to pinpoint your responses and even more important, the myriad, consequent behaviorisms which result will help you begin to fill your warehouse with sources upon which to draw for the construction of a character (the new you selected for your character on stage). Uta Hagen, Respect for Acting

The Great Acting Teachers and Their Methods

This book introduces several great acting teachers and describes their methods and their influence on the history of acting. It’s a great way to understand better modern acting as all these teachers have influenced it. It’s also a fantastic way to find very different approaches on the job of acting.

The art of acting has not taught the world to lie . People have done so since the beginning of time . And if acting in a play is lying , then we simply do not see that lie as destructive . Rather , we regard that lie as Picasso defined all of art , as “the lie that reveals a deeper truth .” Brestoff, Richard. Great Acting Teachers and Their Methods

An Actor’s trick

Oriental and Western theater have influenced Yoshi Oida. This book has a very different tone than most American inspired acting books. Instead of trying to describe a method, he presents his way of acting as an example and proposes to learn by experimenting.

A true teacher never explains, never gives out recipes. He - or sometimes she - is a living example of what is possible, of what can be achieved with endless patience and unshakeable determination. Yoishi Oida - An Actor’s Tricks (Performance Books)

Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art

This last book is not an acting book. Stephen Nachmanovitch writes about the creative process. I’ve taken my time to read this book since each chapter is an opportunity to think about one aspect of creativity. Also, as an improviser, spontaneous creation is part of the process, so this book is not far from acting. Just give it a try, chapter by chapter, it’s worth the experience.

We disappear and become a carrier wave, a vehicle for the music that plays us. The power of creative spontaneity develops into an explosion that liberates us from outmoded frames of reference and from memory that is clogged with old facts and old feelings. Addiction, procrastination, and fear are blown away by this carrier wave, and our music becomes a message about big Self . Nachmanovitch, Stephen. Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art

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