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The Presence of the Actor

The Presence of the Actor
Your Price: $19.95 CDN
Author: Joseph Chaikin
Publisher: Theatre Communications Group
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 162
Pub. Date: 1991
Edition: Reprint
ISBN-10: 1559360305
ISBN-13: 9781559360302

About the Book:

Illuminating notes on acting from America's foremost champion of actor-led theatre.

Joseph Chaikin had a profound effect on the development of modern theatre as a sought after teacher and through his work with New York's Living Theatre and Open Theatre Collective and San Francisco's Magic Theatre. His long career as a renowned actor, theatre director, teacher, and provocateur was as aesthetically adventurous and influential as any in the annals of American stage. Beginning in the late 1950s as a leading actor with the Living Theatre, continuing in his collective-theatre experience as the innovative director of the influential Open Theatre – to explore further the role of the actor in creating new work – in the late 1960s and the Winter Project in the 1970s, and including his ongoing accomplishments as a solo performer in collaboration with such playwrights as Sam Shepard and Jean-Claude van Itallie.

Joseph Chaikin was a lifelong teacher of acting and directing who evolved techniques of performance and play-making that challenge orthodoxy and encourages us all to re-conceive the possibilities of theatre and our lives. His text The Presence of the Actor, first published in 1972 and revised in 1991, has continued to be influential, especially as a rehearsal and training method in drama schools. It is a technique that uses energetic physical exercises and improvisation to create the scenic and atmospheric world of the play using the body of the performer.

The Presence of the Actor is a revered text among theatre artists. Joseph Chaikin is so articulate about the spiritual dimensions of performing in public and what it really means to be an actor. Long considered a classic in the field, the book is an idiosyncratically organized, conversationally and highly inviting review of his efforts, detailing his working methods and revealing the courageous physical, emotional and technical struggles that went into the creation of some of the most exciting, controversial and celebrated productions of all time.

What people say:

"A perceptive collection of notes on acting, the history of the Open Theater, performance in everyday life, theatre and society, and Chaikin's highly personal experience of Brecht and Beckett. The right adjective, if it weren't so overused, is stimulating." — Village Voice

"Traditional acting in America has become a blend of that same kind of of synthetic 'feeling' and sentimentality which characterizes the Fourth of July parade, Muzak, church services and political campaigns." — Joseph Chaikin in Presence of the Actor

"Since each person in the audience, like each actor, possesses many different levels, you as an actor are not imposing a level but rather locating one. In that sense, the audience is made into yet other actors." — Joseph Chaikin in Presence of the Actor

About the Author:

Joseph Chaikin (1935-2003) was an actor and director who invigorated the American stage with his experimental Open Theater in the late 1960's and early 1970's. He collaborated with Samuel Beckett and Sam Shepard and staged works in the Joseph Papp Public Theater, Yale Repertory, the Manhattan Theater Club, the Mark Taper Forum and many other theaters. He was the recipient of six OBIE Awards (including the first-ever for "Lifetime Achievement"), a Drama Desk Award, two Guggenheim Fellowships and the National Endowment of the Arts Distinguished Artist Fellowship Award.