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Acting Book Reviews: Minding The Edge by Carl Menninger & Lori Hammel

May 20, 2013


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So, you’ve read my take on “Audition” by Michael Shurtleff (or perhaps not, you can check that out HERE). That was an older book. Now onto something new! Recently, a friend of mine told me to check out this book, “Minding The Edge: Strategies for a Fulfilling, Successful Career as an Actor” by Carl Menninger and Lori Hammel. I looked it up online, and after reading the description- I thought it might be a helpful book to check out:

“Minding the Edge presents potent strategies beyond what is taught in acting school for “making it” in the entertainment industry. Written for readers embarking on an acting career, this practical, down-to-earth guide highlights the importance of running your business as an actor while committing to the craft of acting. The principle “If you seek fulfillment, success will come” is foundational to the authors’ sensible and sensitive advice on how to create a plan to cope with the volatility of an acting career. A series of interactive exercises and discussion questions motivate readers to explore personal feelings, understand present circumstances while preparing for future ones, and maintain a positive mental approach to the business. Quotations from professional actors, writers, directors, and others in the field, as well as anecdotes from the authors’ own lives, reinforce essential concepts in the book, inspire readers to be proactive, and cultivate a positive mental approach to achieving fulfillment and success.

CARL MENNINGER is the director of Theatre, Musical Theatre and Dance at American University in Washington, DC. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University and a master’s from Emerson College.

LORI HAMMEL is an award-winning actress who has performed on and off-Broadway, in films and television, as well as in numerous commercials. She lives and works in New York City.”

Authors Carl Menninger and Lori Hammel guide the reader through a series of questions throughout the book. When I first began reading the book, I naively thought I had already asked myself these questions. However, after further review, I realized I wasn’t being completely honest with myself. I learned a lot about myself as an artist. The book is aimed towards college students and actors who are just beginning, however I also found it helpful. I realized my goals, dreams, and ideas of success have changed since I first started acting. I needed to take the time to pause and reanalyze my career. I have grown as a person, so my artistic goals have also changed. The exercises in the book would benefit an actor of any level. Whilst reading the book, I kept a document on my laptop titled “Minding The Edge”. I can’t stand my own handwriting, so it was definitely helpful to type my answers as I went, rather than writing them in the book.

“Minding The Edge” helps you to determine where you are, where you are headed, and where you would eventually like to be. Using the exercises and tips in the book, you can then begin working your way towards your goals! You are asked real life questions such as “What are the biggest roadblocks or obstacles (emotional, mental, financial, personal, etc.) for you?” and “What will you use as benchmarks to show you that progress is being made”. I also really enjoyed reading Carl and Lori’s “Dispatches from the Field” inserts. In these inserts, they tell you about the lessons they have learned on their journeys. The book also includes inspiring quotes from many successful actors, playwrights, directors, producers, and the like.

I highly recommend this book to actors of any level! It is a must for beginners who are just starting out on their journey, and I found it very inspiring and motivating as a working/experienced actor. You can see sample pages from this book on HERE. Go check it out!

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