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8 Books Every Actor Should read this Holiday Season!

“Acting for Dummies” is the silliest name for a book on acting because acting is certainly NOT for dummies. It takes a real education to look natural in front of an audience or camera. Our acting coaches, and their teaching style’s consists of myriad techniques learned over the years from some very gifted teachers in the industry and experience in the audition rooms/film sets. This mix is also reflected in my reading list. Between my Kindle and my bedside table, I have perused and read far too many books to list in one article. However, I’d like to recommend eight must-haves for aspiring and working actors alike.


1.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.

2.THE POWER OF THE ACTOR: by Ivana Chubbuck:  In The Power of the Actor, a Los Angeles Times bestseller, premier acting teacher and coach Ivana Chubbuck reveals her cutting-edge technique, which has launched some of the most successful acting careers in Hollywood.

The first book from the instructor who has taught Charlize Theron, Brad Pitt, Elisabeth Shue, Djimon Hounsou, and Halle Berry, The Power of the Actor guides you to dynamic and effective results. For many of today’s major talents, the Chubbuck Technique is the leading edge of acting for the twenty-first century. Ivana Chubbuck has developed a curriculum that takes the theories of the acting masters, such as Stanislavski, Meisner, and Hagen, to the next step by utilizing inner pain and emotions, not as an end in itself, but rather as a way to drive and win a goal.

In addition to the powerful twelve-step process, the book takes well-known scripts, both classic and contemporary, and demonstrates how to precisely apply Chubbuck’s script-analysis process. The Power of the Actor is filled with fascinating and inspiring behind-the-scenes accounts of how noted actors have mastered their craft and have accomplished success in such a difficult and competitive field.


3. “Audition” by Michael Shurtleff
I consider this book to be the bible for aspiring actors. If you are just beginning your acting career, this is a great place to start! It covers everything you need to know to get the part. Mr. Shurteff’s twelve infamous guideposts have influenced my own work in developing my simple technique to help actors learn how to direct themselves. From relationships to finding the love and humour in the scene, Shurtelff’s steps will help you nail your audition every time.

4. “Meisner on Acting” by Sanford Meisner
Meisner or Method? That is the question. Well, it may not really be an either/or. It’s often insightful to know both. Although I did not train with Sanford Meisner, I was fortunate enough to study with many teachers, including Wynn Handman, who were Meisner disciples. In this gem, Meisner gives it to you straight on how to live truthfully in the moment under imaginary circumstances. Your library is not complete without this one.

5. “Respect for Acting” by Uta Hagen
Simple and straightforward, Uta Hagen’s profound book has helped generations of actors hone their craft. She introduces series of exercises to help the actor connect to the moment, fellow actors, and the audience. “Who am I?” “What do I want?” and “What is my relationship?” are three of the nine questions explored to define your character’s role specifically. Hagen also includes invaluable advice about stage nerves and how to stay fresh in a long run. 


READ: 8 Must-Read Books About Auditioning

6. “An Actor Prepares” by Constantin Stanislavsky
Funny at times, this book takes the actor through Stanislavsky’s self-developed system which helps the actor to master his craft as well as stimulate creativity and imagination. Now referred to as “method acting,” the book includes a variety of exercises and some autobiographical experiences that focus on relaxation, concentration, and techniques that will help get the actor into character. Emotional memory and the “magic if” explored in his book laid the groundwork for much of the great acting today.

7. “Improvisation for the Theatre” by Viola Spolin
Considered the mother of improvisation, Viola Spolin developed a series of acting exercises and theater games to free the actor’s creativity, allowing play beyond the scene. Many modern improv groups such as Second City utilize Spolin’s techniques. If you want to learn truthful acting and how to be in the moment, add this to your library to make it complete.

8. “Actions: The Actor’s Thesaurus” by Marina Calderone
Acting means TO DO. Thousands of action words are alphabetized and categorized to help you find what you are doing in every beat. This book will help you play specific actions and get away from making general choices.

So there you have it! My eight top picks no actor should be caught without. Master your craft, empower yourself, and enjoy the journey in 2018!