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A Practical Handbook for the Actor

A Practical Handbook for the Actor
Your Price: $19.95 CDN
Biz Bestseller!
Author: Melissa Bruder, Lee Michael Cohn, Madeleine Olnek, Nathaniel Pollack, Robert Previto & Scott Zigler
Introduction by: David Mamet
Publisher: Vintage Books
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 94
Pub. Date: 1986
ISBN-10: 0394744128
ISBN-13: 9780394744124

About the Book:

An excellent "how-to" primer for actors with insight for directors. A Practical Handbook for the Actor is a long-time, well respected industry standard. There is a reason this book is used in theatre classes ranging from art schools to college campuses – it works. The lessons in A Practical Handbook for the Actor will you to find the truth in the scene you are performing and to identify the specific actions in the production and why they are doing them.

A Practical Handbook for the Actor is a "class in a book" that provides a solid foundation in the "Practical Aesthetics" acting technique taught at Atlantic Acting School, part of the award-winning, Off-Broadway Atlantic Theater Company. The technique was created by school co-founders William H. Macy and Pulitzer Prize winning playwright David Mamet, based on the teachings of Stanislavsky, Sanford Meisner, and the Stoic philosopher Epictetus. Simple, honest, and straightforward, Practical Aesthetics is both an acting technique and a philosophy: it demystifies the process of acting by giving the actor a very clear set of analytical and physical tools. The philosophy teaches self-reliance, professional work habits, and mutual support and respect between artists.

Melissa Bruder, Lee Michael Cohn, Madeleine Olnek, Nathaniel Pollack, Robert Previto and Scott Zigler are actors who worked with David Mamet and W. H. Macy at New York University and at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. Members of the Practical Aesthetics Workshop, they have written the first book on Practical Aesthetics, which is a technique that rejects the imposed complication of other approaches and instead focuses on the innate simplicity of theatricality and asks actors to break down a scene simply and specifically, in four steps: 1. What is the character literally doing? 2. What does the character want the other characters in the scene to do? 3. What is my action? 4. What is that action like to me? It's that famous "as if…" (relating the essential action to the actor's own life: "It's as if my best friend has just broken up with her boy-friend and has fallen into a deep depression. I need to assure her that everything will be okay, or else our friendship will suffer.").

A Practical Handbook for the Actor is written for any actor who has ever experienced the frustrations of acting classes that lacked clarity and objectivity, and that failed to provide a dependable set of tools. An actor's job, the authors state, is to "find a way to live truthfully under the imaginary circumstances of the play." The ways in which an actor can attain that truth form the substance of this eloquent book.

What people say:

"Simple, clear and concise – just what was needed. A deeply interesting and valuable work of art." — Sidney Lumet

"This is the best book on acting written in the last twenty years." — David Mamet

"This tense and lucid handbook might be for the actor what Strunk and White's The Elements of Style is for the writer." — John Guare

"This book is wonderful. It is clear, direct and to the point, with none of the hokum that accompanies most books on the theatre, especially about acting. I learned an enormous amount." — Robert Benton

"This beautifully written book offers a clear guide to the most profound acting technique I know. Every young actor should read it, re-read it, and keep it under his pillow." — Lindsay Crouse

About the Author:

The book is co-written by six working actors: Melissa Bruder, Lee Michael Cohn, Madeleine Olnek, Nathaniel Pollack, Robert Previto and Scott Zigler. They describe their methods and philosophies of the theatre. It is based upon the "Practical Aesthetics Technique" series of workshops at the Goodman Theater in Chicago by playwright David Mamet.