I’m nearing the end of my training in my BFA Theatre Performance program. A lot of this training has involved reading, so I wanted to share 6 books that have helped me grow as an actor. Here are 6 books for every actor’s collection:
The Complete Tips: Ideas for Actors by Jon Jory
I read this for my Acting 1 class and it’s a great compilation of easily digestible tips that can be applied to any project.
The blurb: “Until recent times, acting wisdom was passed on through an oral tradition called “tips.” Presented here are 507 tips, including the way to set up a laugh, the use of opposites, a clear definition of “actions,” how to use a “breath score,” and even how to react if you’re fired. The tips are simple to implement and will lead to a better day at auditions and rehearsals, and a better night in performance. It’s like having an acting coach in your rehearsal bag!”
The Actor Speaks by Patsy Rodenburg
I’m definitely holding onto this book from my Voice and Diction 1 class as it helped me harness my voice effectively.
The blurb: “In The Actor Speaks, Patsy Rodenburg takes actors and actresses, both professional and beginners, through a complete voice workshop. She touches on every aspect of performance work that involves the voice and sorts through the kinds of vexing problems every performer faces onstage: breath and relaxation; vocal range and power; communication with other actors; singing and acting simultaneously; working on different sized stages and in both large and small auditoriums; approaching the vocal demands of different kinds of scripts. This is the final word on the actor’s voice and it’s destined to become the classic work on the subject for some time to come.”
The Actor and the Target by Declan Donnellan
A great read from my Acting 3 class that simplifies character work in a way that really worked for me.
The blurb: “Acting is a reflex, a mechanism for development and survival. . . . It isn’t ‘second nature,’ it is ‘first nature.’”—Declan Donnellan
This immensely popular and ever-practical book on acting takes a scalpel to the heart of actors’ persistent fears, helping them to release their talent on stage. It is straightforward and unpretentious, with a spirit of artistic and personal freedom.”
Audition By Michael Shurtleff
I worked through this is my Audition Portfolio class and it takes you through twelve guideposts you can apply to auditions.
The blurb: “Michael Shurtleff has been casting director for Broadway shows like Chicago and Becket and for films like The Graduate and Jesus Christ Superstar. His legendary course on auditioning has launched hundreds of successful careers. Now in this book he tells the all-important how for all aspiring actors, from the beginning student of acting to the proven talent trying out for that chance-in-a-million role!”
Actor, Inc.: How to Get the Next Gig and Still Pay Your Rent by James Grady
This was assigned in my Business of Show Business class and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to look at the business and practical side of acting.
The blurb: “Each year thousands of actors descend upon New York City, Los Angeles, and other major cities with dreams of making it big. But of the 100,000 or more professional actors in the U.S. only about 2 to 3 percent of them actually earn a living on stage or screen. Its a tough business, and even talented people give up the profession due to financial insecurity. Too bad they didnt read Actor, Inc. Youve got to pay your dues before you pay the rentthats why so many actors find themselves waiting on tables while waiting for parts. Actor, Inc. sees it differently. Jamie Grady shows you how to take charge, blend your personal and professional lives, and become an artistic entrepreneur. Grady leaves the artistry to you but shows you basic money-management techniques for staying afloat, and more advanced ideas that give you the financial freedom to get ahead. Grady interviews members of the field for tips on everything a professional actor should know not only to survive but to make a livingand maybe even retire one day:
defining success to avoid failure
setting financial goals you can reach
organizing an efficient home officeeven if its only your couch
managing your time so you dont run out of it
prioritizing your spending when saving is a priority
making debt go awayand stay away
investing for retirement even if you arent established
making sure Uncle Sam gets his so he doesnt get you. Dont become a starving artist. With its resources, exercises, forms, and street smarts, Actor, Inc. is the book that makes acting work for you.”
The New Business of Acting by Brad Lemack
Another great book from my Business of Show Business class that helps out with the business and practical side of acting.
The blurb: “The best actor never gets the role. But the right actor always gets hired and if you want to be the right actor, you need to create a well-paved pathway through the traffic jam that can slow you down, divert your attention and create stress behind the wheel of the career you’re committed to driving forward. It’s your journey and it’s time for a career tune up, even if you’re just starting out In this revised and expanded Next Edition to his popular book for actors, talent manager, educator and author Brad Lemack tackles the tough challenges actors face in seeking, building and maintaining rewarding careers in the new landscape. From the role of personal ethics and integrity to landing the role of a lifetime, Lemack teaches readers how to navigate through and thrive in a continually changing landscape in an industry challenged to redefine itself and how it does business. Whether you’re new to the business or in need of a professional career rebranding, The New Business of Acting: The Next Edition will empower you with a critical perspective on how to create, map out and embark on a life-long journey that will earn you the career-building opportunities you seek.”
I hope that these books also help you to grow as an actor!