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Acting Book Reviews: Introduction

April 18, 2013

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Sometimes I wish I had more time and funds to spend on classes. However, considering my recourses, I find books are a better alternative. There is a small thrift store on the block before my survival job. They always have a large amount of books outside, and I love skimming through them before I go to work. Apparently there is at least one actor living in the neighborhood, because I often find acting books- as well as books on directing, playwriting, etc. It’s kind of a hit or miss endeavor. I have found some really great books, and I have found some that weren’t as helpful as I was hoping.

 

Either way, it gives me something to do on subway rides into the city or those very slow days at my survival job. Plus, I feel I am still working on my craft and expanding as an artist. In my next few posts, I will be highlighting 3 of the books I have read recently and found the most helpful. Two of these books are old and one is new. My advice for reading the older books is to take the information with a grain of salt. Most of the information in these books is still relevant. However, there are some things that have definitely changed, such as black & white headshots or copying your reel onto a “cassette”.

Here are some of the things I do to get the most out of my reading:

  • Focus. This is not always easy to do, especially with the man sitting next to you on the subway blasting (and sometimes singing along to-) his rap music. Try listening to a track of white noise on your iPod, or simply waiting until you have a peaceful moment (such as a lunch break, a few minutes before bed, or some downtime on set/backstage).
  • Highlight & Make Notes. I used to just read through acting books and not make any notes or marks on the pages. The only problem with that is, I felt I wasn’t retaining the information I had read. I definitely find it helps to highlight sections/sentences that are helpful to me. I may also underline certain pieces of information, or write myself little notes- whatever I can do to help myself retain the information I have read. If you are borrowing the book or don’t want to mark it up, write notes on a notepad. After I have read the book, I may go back and re-read some of the sections I have marked.
  • Tea. I love tea, especially while I am reading. Grab a cup of coffee/tea/you name it, and sit down with your book. Even if it’s just for 5-10 minutes every day. It will make a difference.
  • Do. There are often activities or assignments in the book. I am always tempted to just skip over them, thinking- “Oh…. something I have to actually *gulp*… do! I’ll just finish reading the book and come back to do the activity after I’m done.” Let’s be real, I never do. Make the most of the book.
  • Evaluate. Remember, the book you are reading is the opinion of ONE (ok, maybe 2) author(s). If you disagree with something they tell you to do, don’t do it! I always take the books I read with a grain of salt. I take away what I can use, and throw away what I can’t. You just have to be selective and decide what you think would be beneficial to implement into your career.
  • Implement. Do it! Try something new. You can always use new techniques on a trial and error basis. If what you are implementing doesn’t seem to be helping your career, you don’t have to continue doing it.

Looking forward to sharing some of the books I found helpful! If you have a book suggestion, please let me know. I am always looking for new (or old) books to read.

 The Growing Artist Signature
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3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 18, 2013 4:55 pm

    I liked Ruthie Henshall’s book ‘So You Want To Be in Musicals?’ (although bear in mind that she is British). Others I have read (as you say, with a grain of salt) are : ‘How to Audition for the Musical Theatre’ by Donald Oliver and ‘Auditioning for the Musical Theatre’ by Fred Silver. You can prob get them on Amazon.

  2. The Mothering Actor permalink
    April 18, 2013 8:36 pm

    I love tea too!!!! I love Seth Barrish’s from the Barrow Group “An Actor’s Companion” – lots of practical acting tips. Also “How to Get the Part without falling apart” Margie Haber’s audition book.

  3. The Growing Artist permalink
    April 23, 2013 7:02 pm

    Thank you both for the book recommendations! I will definitely check them out. I am always looking for a good read 🙂

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