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Book Club For Actors: Like College, But FREE!

May 16, 2012

Please allow me to take a few moments to lavish praise on one of my new favorite people in the world — Rhonda, of Art & Soul Acting. You already know Rhonda from her lovely guest post about ways to answer annoying questions asked of actors. What you may not know, however, is that, in addition to being a beautiful, generous, and inspiring person, Rhonda also runs a genius monthly book club for actors.

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The book club that Rhonda runs meets once every six weeks or so, and focuses on the work of a particular playwright or theme. Participants read anywhere from one to five or six plays, and then get together for two hours to eat delicious food and talk shop about the plays. Rhonda not only takes the time to read nearly every play we discuss and watch any available filmed versions, she also does careful dramaturgical work on the plays, playwrights, and historical context, so as to foster a lively discussion.

Frankly, my friends, if you are not taking advantage of this incredible resource, I think you’re pretty silly. Because Rhonda does such a fabulous job of selecting relevant work that is getting produced right now, I have walked into several auditions feeling abundantly prepared and connected to the material due what I’ve learned at book club. And I’ve inadvertently found new monologues and scenes while innocently plodding through my reading list, too 🙂

And although I left college feeling well-versed in the classics and the basics of what I needed to know of contemporary works, I always felt like there were large gaps in my knowledge of the body of work that’s out there that were begging to be filled in. That gap is narrowing significantly when I’m busy reading almost 50 plays a year for book club!

So, what are you waiting for? This month’s playwright is Tracy Letts, and his stuff is fantastic (how did it take me this long to read August: Osage County?). You still have three weeks until book club, so sign up on Rhonda’s site and get reading! Will I see you there? If you can’t make this one, check out the future book club dates and follow along with the discussion on twitter using the hashtag #asabc.

Non-New Yorkers: would you consider setting up something like this for yourselves in the absence of Rhonda’s wonderful guidance? Are you a part of something like this already?

17 Comments leave one →
  1. May 16, 2012 9:47 am

    I love this idea! What a great tool for actors, but also for budding playwrights! I am constantly feeling as though I haven’t read enough plays, that I don’t know enough playwrights, and even as someone who co-operates a small theatre group, I feel as though my play selections are limited by my own limited knowledge. What an enjoyable way to broaden your horizons! I can’t make regular trips to NYC, unfortunately, but I’m going to see about getting something like this started in my own little corner of NEPA. 🙂

    • May 16, 2012 10:04 am

      Ya dramachicky! Get on it sista 🙂

    • May 16, 2012 11:19 am

      I think it’s a great idea for anyone involved in the biz to know as many plays as possible! Please come back and report how your book club setting up goes!!

      And thanks for the sweet mention on your blog 🙂

    • May 21, 2012 9:56 am

      Hi Dramachicky, I think we’ve met in NEPA at an Oscars party. I’m a friend of Eleanor Gwynn Jones. I’ll bet you could really get this club going there and it would be great! good luck!

      • May 22, 2012 4:43 pm

        Hmmm…I do not recall, but it’s possible! 🙂 Are you local to NEPA or were you just visiting?

  2. May 16, 2012 10:03 am

    One of these days I am sure to get there! Discussions of plays were some of my fave parts of college (haha dork) so im hoping this will be reminiscent of that. Minus the grades!

    • May 16, 2012 11:20 am

      It’s truly awesome. All the good parts of college, none of the bad (grades, getting up at 7 AM, student loans…) 🙂

  3. May 16, 2012 11:35 am

    WOW – one cannot ask for a better way to start the day!

    I am both blushing and grinning from ear-to-ear from your kind words, Kate. I am truly honored and grateful for your continued focused participation in the book club; you are definitely a valued member.

    And while I am the one running the book club, I am also its beneficiary. The simple habit of reading these plays has impacted my world on so many levels: I have even more material to share with my students; my conversations have deepened with acting world colleagues; and I am always stretched and gifted by the insights and opinions of the generous book club attendees. Plus, it’s so much fun!

    Indeed, all are invited to attend.

    Kate, a huge THANK YOU!!!

  4. The Reflective Artist permalink
    May 17, 2012 11:06 pm

    Book club totally helped reignite my passion for work when I needed it by showing me what’s out there. And I miss it big time. LOVE YOU, RHONDA!

  5. California Triple-Threat permalink
    May 18, 2012 3:14 pm

    I wish I lived in NYC just for this! I might just have to start my own book-club-for-actors out here in LA!

    • May 21, 2012 10:09 am

      DO IT! I so enjoy being a part of it, and I’m sure you’ll have people similarly thrilled out there! Or you could just move to New York. You know, whatever. 🙂

      • California Triple-Threat permalink
        May 21, 2012 1:51 pm

        also a good option… 🙂

  6. May 21, 2012 10:03 am

    Hi! I feel really lucky to have seen August Osage County with the entire original cast. Holy crap, what a show. I actually did the groupie waiting at the stage door thing I was so enamored with Deanna Dunagan and Amy Morton. (Side note is that I’m now represented by same agency as Ms. Dunagan, which makes me more excited than actually booking jobs with them.) Anyway, I digress. I love this book club and feel pathetic that I haven’t yet joined. It’s such a great resource. I will go right now to RSVP!!!

    • May 21, 2012 10:09 am

      So awesome that you’re signed with the agent of someone you really respect! I also am signing with the agent of someone I really respect, and I am similarly nerding out over it 🙂

      Hooray for you joining book club! It’s such an awesome resource, and Rhonda does an amazing job of running it. Hope to see you there!!


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