The following books on theatre and acting are recommended reading. Most will be used in our training, others are useful books that should be part of your knowledge and understanding.
An Actor's Work - Constantin Stanislavski
translation by Jean Benedetti of AN ACTOR PREPARES and BUILDING A CHARACTER.
Stanislavski’s ‘system’ has dominated actor-training in the West since his writings were first translated into English in the 1920s and 30s. His systematic attempt to outline a psycho-physical technique for acting single-handedly revolutionized standards of acting in the theatre.
Until now, readers and students have had to contend with inaccurate, misleading and difficult-to-read English-language versions. Some of the mistranslations have resulted in profound distortions in the way his system has been interpreted and taught. At last, Jean Benedetti has succeeded in translating Stanislavski’s huge manual into a lively, fascinating and accurate text in English. He has remained faithful to the author's original intentions, putting the two books previously known as An Actor Prepares and Building A Character back together into one volume, and in a colloquial and readable style for today's actors.
The result is a major contribution to the theatre, and a service to one of the great innovators of the twentieth century.
Acting: The First Six Lessons - Richard Boleslavsky
Theory and technique in a lively and accessible narrative form. Widely considered a must-have for beginning as well as established actors, Boleslavsky's work has long helped actors better understand the craft of acting and what it takes to grow as an artist. He has taught generations of some of the best stage and screen actors and actresses.
Written in the form of a series of dialogues, these lessons aim to inform and instruct the budding actor on some of the basic principles of acting and learning to act.
My Life in Art by Constantin Stanislavski (translation by Jean Benedetti)
Konstantin Stanislavski was a Russian director who transformed th
eatre in the West with his contributions to the birth of Realist theatre and his unprecedented approach to teaching acting. He lived through extraordinary times and his unique contribution to the arts still endures in the twenty-first century. He established the Moscow Art Theatre in 1898 with, among other plays, the premiere of Chekhov's The Seagull. He also survived revolutions, lost his fortune, found wide fame in America, and lived in internal exile under Stalin's Soviet Union.
Before writing his classic manual on acting, Stanislavski began writing an autobiography that he hoped would both chronicle his rich and tumultuous life and serve as a justification of his aesthetic philosophy. But when the project grew to 'impossible' lengths, his publisher (Little, Brown) insisted on many cuts and changes to keep it to its deadline and to a manageable length. The result was a version published in English in 1924, which Stanislavski hated and completely revised for a Soviet edition that came out in 1926.
Now, for the first time, translator Jean Benedetti brings us Stanislavski's complete unabridged autobiography as the author himself wanted it – from the re-edited 1926 version. The text, in clear and lively English, is supplemented by a wealth of photos and illustrations, many previously unpublished.
The Fervent Years by Harold Clurman
The Group Theatre was perhaps the most significant experiment in the history of American theater. Producing plays that reflected topical issues of the decade and giving a creative chance to actors, directors, and playwrights who were either fed up with or shut out of commercial theater, the "Group" remains a permanent influence on American drama despite its brief ten-year life.
It was here that method acting, native realism, and political language had their tryouts in front of audiences who anticipated--indeed demanded--a departure from the Broadway "show-biz" tradition. In this now classic account, Harold Clurman, founder of the Group Theatre and a dynamic force as producer-director-critic for fifty years, here re-creates history he helped make with Lee Strasberg, Elia Kazan, Irwin Shaw, Clifford Odets, Cheryl Crawford, Morris Carnovsky, and William Saroyan.
Stella Adler contributed a new introduction to this edition which remembers Clurman, the thirties, and the heady atmosphere of a tumultuous decade.
The Art of Acting by Stella Adler
Stella Adler was one of the 20th Century's greatest figures. She is arguably the most important teacher of acting in American history. Over her long career, both in New York and Hollywood, she offered her vast acting knowledge to generations of actors, including Marlon Brando, Warren Beatty, and Robert De Niro.
The great voice finally ended in the early Nineties, but her decades of experience and teaching have been brilliantly caught and encapsulated by Howard Kissel in the twenty-two lessons in this book.
Respect for Acting by Uta Hagen
"This fascinating and detailed book about acting is Miss Hagen's credo, the accumulated wisdom of her years spent in intimate communion with her art. It is at once the voicing of her exacting standards for herself and those she [taught], and an explanation of the means to the end."
"Hagen adds to the large corpus of titles on acting with vivid dicta drawn from experience, skill, and a sense of personal and professional worth. Her principal asset in this treatment is her truly significant imagination. Her 'object exercises' display a wealth of detail with which to stimulate the student preparing a scene for presentation."
Acting: A Handbook of the Stanislavski Method by Toby Cole and Lee Strasberg
Audition by Michael Shurtleff
I Got In by Mary Anna Dennard
The Use and Training of the Human Voice by Arthur Lessac
The Actor and the Text by Cecily Berry