A Dozen Gifts For Aspiring Actors

Gathered from Actorfolk and Writerfolk and other interested parties. Here comes Valentine’s Day, festival of the birds as well as love, so add heart-positive chocolate (dark, organic, shade-grown, thus bird-friendly).

  1. An Actor Prepares: Constantin Stanislavski.  This definitive text of the method acting technique reads like a novel.
  2. Stella Adler on Ibsen, Strindberg and Chekhov: Stella Adler. Memoir. The formidable Stella  — who was Brando’s teacher– shares insights into the modern dramatists whose groundbreaking plays created the need for Stanislavski’s method.
  3. Letters from an Actor: William Redfield.  A kind of memoir. Redfield played Guildenstern in the famous Richard Burton production of Hamlet.  His role was small, but his struggles were great, and also funny.
  4. The Confessions of Edward Day: Valerie Martin. Novel.   A cautionary tale about a young actor in New York during the theater explosion of the 70’s. Even actors should be careful what they wish for.
  5. Sanford Meisner on Acting: Sanford Meisner.  Meisner taught many of the “stars” on stage and screen today.  He uses Stanislavski’s narrative form in this fascinating look at his own very practical “method.”
  6. Mephisto: Klaus Mann. Novel. This classic novel from the Nazi period shows the rise of an actor whose best role is Mephisopheles in Faust, through his betrayals and his complicity, and his using of his art as a political ladder-climbing tool.   It exists too as an amazing  1981 film adaptation directed by István Szabó,
  7. Respect for Acting: Uta Hagan. Memoir.  A great actress offers observations and exercises designed to facilitate the marriage of intellect to action.
  8. The Seagull: Anton Chekhov.Play.  The greatest play of the Russian master. Actresses will kill for the role of Arkadina, an actress who destroys her son with her insatiable need for attention.
  9. To Be or Not to Be: Ernst Lubitsch. Film. (1942).  A troupe of actors in occupied Warsaw pull the wool over the eyes of Hitler’s henchmen by impersonating them.  A comedy about a tragedy, with an unexpectedly great performance by Jack Benny.
  10. Audition: Michael Shurtleff. This manual for the cast call hasn’t been out of print since it was first published in the 70’s.  Sometimes called the “Bible” for aspiring actors.
  11. Slings and Arrows. TV series, DVD. “Blackly comic” series created and written by Mark McKinney, Susan Coyne, Bob Martin. A hilariously accurate look backstage and onstage at the machinations of a large summer rep theatre.
  12. 28 Artists and 2 Saints: Essays: Joan Acocella. Brilliant accounts of, and meditations upon, various artists and art forms; especially useful to actors for what she has to say about dance and the expressive body.


Filed under 1, YOTF Tour Blog

3 responses to “A Dozen Gifts For Aspiring Actors

  1. Hollis Williams

    They all look pretty interesting. There’s also ”I Am Hamlet” by..uh, forgotten his name. Oh well. It’s good, anyway.

  2. Alicia Long

    What a great resource for actors!

  3. what about chocolate with juliettte Binoch?

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