What are your favorite acting books and why do you like them? I'm looking for some new perspectives on the craft, and it would be great to hear some recommendations. Thank you in advance for your thoughts!
Copy the link below to share this page:
Hi Ayelette, I'm presently reading "Auditions" by Michael Shurtleff, and I find it quite informative. Not only for auditions, but for scene and character breakdown on varies scripts you may read. Good Luck...Joe
A great book to read would be "Acting Lions" by Penny Templeton. It is like the bible for actors.
Thank you both!
I like "directing actors" by Judith Weston... OK it's not technically for actors, but it helps a ton when you need a reel and you're cast in a story where you find out the director doesn't know what he's doing... like when they start acting for you and tell you to do what they're doing... It's a great tool to direct yourself, give yourself motivation for scenes, and breakdown a scene and give your character goals, rather than just actions.
That's a great idea - thanks, Shane.
Hi Kendra, thank you. I of course know of these teachers. Would you mind sharing what specifically about them you like or connect to?
My teacher in Spain did the translation into Spanish of the book ¨how to stop acting¨Harold Guskin ,His teacher...I really recomend
Thank you! :)
The Bible of Acting is "An Actor Work" by Konstantin Stanislavski, , It is not "Method Acting" as most think- There was never a Method to his work but their is a techniques, -and in the middle of all his work is the hidden secret " Talk to mine eyes" This is one of the biggest reasons that so many fine actors don’t get to their genius- because they don’t understand-, like "You must become the character" not true but has been misinterpreted, read and think about each part , not all the page s to sell books, but the gems that will make you a great actress,
Many books out there. My short list contains: AN ACTOR PREPARES (Stanislavsky), RESPECT FOR ACTING (Uta Hagen), AUDITION (Michael Shurtleff) - One of the better acting books I've read. And also BEING AN ACTOR (Simon Callow) With many insights into the acting world. Break a Leg!
Michael Caine's "Acting in Film" is great and very readable. On the biz side of things, I recommend Bonnie Gillespie's "Self Management for Actors" 4th edition.
I have read quite a few of the above and all are well known and full of excellent ideas and processes. Then, while I was reading a script for a stage production I noticed the publishers name, NICK HERN BOOKS and the mission statement of this publisher intrigued me. The script I will be Directing but there was another book that focused on acting by DECLAN DONNELLAN. Never heard of the author but his book,The Actor and The Target, captured and cleaned the dust off of typical approaches to character. Its is not a Stanislavsky, Adler or Hagen inspirational hands on text. Each idea causes you to pause and contemplate the simplistic truths about the actor and the characters you portray. Great for the actor and wonderful for a Director looking for an avenue to spontaneity and impulse on the stage.
I've found most contemporary acting books to be a rehashing of classic approaches without attributing the source. One great exception I've read is "The Actor and The Target" by Declan Donelin. He offers some new approaches and builds upon existing techniques in very practical and compelling ways. A great primer of physical acting is Rick Kemp's "Embodied Acting". A bit academic at times, but it's a fantastic look at the techniques of M. Chekhov, LeCoq, Grotowski, etc. I also recommend reading modern studies of neuroscience concerning human empathy.
Peter and Christopher, thank you. Those recommendations (especially The Actor and The Target, with 2 recommendations!) sound great -- fresh and substantive.
Ayelette, There is an outstanding book called Action/ReAction by Stephen Mitchell. Stephen's techniques will change your performance in a grand way. I highly recommend the book. I have read it twice and started reading it a third time but had to stop because I have been getting a lot of auditions and jobs due to learning his techniques and applying them to my acting. It's a winner!!!
I liked "How to Stop Acting" by Harold Guskin.
The classic, An Actor Prepares!
Acting in Film by Michael Caine is a funny yet informative take on the craft. love that book.
Oh my god! It would be so amazing to read all these books. But we have none of those here where I live (Curaçao) and also ordering online is gonna cost too much... one day I will tho
uta hogens respect for acting is a great acting book
David Ball "Backwards and Forwards"
Agree with Miles, "Backwards and Forwards" is not only a good book for actors, but for dramatic writers as well.
I love "the artist's way" I also love "Respect for Acting"
Way too many :) but these all sound great. Thanks for the extra comments explaining some of the books too.
Not to overload...but...Clues to Acting Shakespeare by Wesley Van Tessel is also a great book. Peace.
To add one more to the list, try 'At Left Brain Turn Right' by Anthony Meindl for a holistic approach to acting.
A CHALLENGE FOR THE ACTOR by my Master Teacher Uta Hagen, the culmination of her continued search throughout her Broadway career for reliable tools of creativity. I also had the privilege of associate directing Ms. Hagen in an off-Broadway premiere where I watched her apply every day in rehearsal the very techniques she taught in class. She continued to test and hone her Ten Object Exercises adjusting, refining, scrapping them that she no longer used her first best seller, RESPECT FOR ACTING in class. And I quote, "I have disassociated myself from that book" - Uta Hagen. That is a tribute to her commitment to continually grow, to find what works and discard what doesn't in the search for truthful human behavior. As an authorized Hagen process teacher, I see actors in my classes in LA, NY and Miami making discoveries of such physical depth that they say they never experienced from 'biz' classes of performance oriented externals, cliches and stereotypes, of 'being natural', of 'keeping it small', of 'being casual' and from 'throwing it away'. Great acting, like life, is Thought in Reaction to the circumstances of the changing physical world. It's not line readings and modulated voices and glaring leers and imposed harrumphs. That's the disease of generations of ECUs that reduce truthful human behavior to isolated facial ticks. This is not an argument of one medium over another but rather one interpretation over another, that of truthful human behavior over Hollywood externalized attitudes. Read pp. 42-44 where Ms. Hagen discusses Formalism vs Realism using the examples of Berhhardt vs Duse. Enlightening.
I went on and wrote down all these books. One day I will read them all.
That's great Brandon! I would suggest to read Stephen Mitchell's Action/ReAction first. That book will help you very much. It's what I call the Acting bible. It's basic but essential for actors! If you go on amazon.com you may read the first 8 pages for free!
The Bible of Actors is "An Actors Work"by Konstantin Stanislavski, and trannslated by Jean Benedetti, In it is the Key of Great Acting, "Talk to my Eyes, What does that mean- well that is the key- when you understand it- you will be a fine actor, (Hint) not just visual-but Mental, It will propell your acting careen to new and wonderfu;l heights,Read and Discover,
I've already looked them up on amazon. When I get the money, I will order them all at once. I needed one asap for acting on camera. But I watched Michael Caine's videos and they really helped me in that area. So If I get the role I am waiting on, I am pretty much prepared
After so many comments referencing the Bible and Master, it seems as though the stage craft has become a religion! If so, please allow me to bow out and exit stage right!!!!!
There are so many amazing books on acting. Guess it really depends on what you'd like to focus on. Audition has already been mentioned a few times as have the classics. A few of my favorites are: For Improv Spolin's books are great, also like the UCB manual as it really does a nice job speaking about their process, specifically with long form. For Meisner, I'm partial to Esper's books, the second year just came out a couple months ago. I never really gave meisner much credit prior to reading william esper's first book, as I couldn't stand meisner's own book (yes, blasphemy, IK, but nevertheless). Anyhow, Esper's books really gave me a complete about face regarding the technique. One more that I think may be valuable to read if you can find it is Don Richardson's Acting without Agony. It's out of print but you can still find it places. It's a nice alternative method to producing felt emotion. Oh, and finally, Kudos to the person who mentioned Anthony Meindl's book. It's not really about acting per se, but it is an amazing read, one that provides much in terms of connection, openness and offers a really refreshing philosophical view on living life. Hope that helped. If you have any questions on specific books, please feel free to let me know, I'm not ashamed to say that the odds are I've read it.
and I like "Awakening the Actor Within"
Fred -- Thank you for mentioning the new Esper book. I read the first one and thought it was wonderful and didn't realize there was a new one! Thanks.
Now that you're overwhelmed with books on technique, I'll throw a curveball into the mix. "The Definitive Book of Body Language" by Allan and Barbara Pease. Studying body language has made me a better observer of human behavior, and after all, that's our job as actors, isn't ti? To recreate human behavior.
Studing body behavior is basic- everyone has a way of movement and within the Charactor you create -you will find that your imagination has created a Body movement that fits that charactor-and the role-,creative ifdeas are the way to show your talent,but yes- watch and learn from others that you think might give MORE life to your movements.
Study movies.... the best actors in the world are literally showing you exactly what they do in the best movies ever made. If you can separate yourself from the story and force yourself to see the actor for who they are instead of who they are playing you will learn a shit load. I like to pretend I am on the set of the scene, standing behind the director or the light or anything really, watching the performance that way. For some reason it makes me see the performance as it feels on set, when everyone feels real almost like a documentary, and before it ends up with that "cinema" feeling.
Best book? 'Actions: The Actors' Thesaurus' by Marina Caldarone & Maggie Lloyd-Williams. Inspirational.
"How to Stop Acting" by Harold Guskin
awakening the actor within by myself coz I wrote it and I think it's helpful to actors
Hollywood 101 is not directly an acting book, but a great film book that everyone can benefit from, cast or crew. So worth the read. For actors directly, Ice Babies from Oz...best stand alone monologue book. One of the early versions of a book written of monologues from no show...to give the actor something fresh that everyone else was not using. Now that is is older...few use it as much and a great chance for some new talent to go to material others may have yet to spot! The flame thrower monologue a personal fav!