True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Sep 7, 2011 - Performing Arts - 144 pages
2 Reviews
Invent nothing, deny nothing, speak up, stand up, stay out of school. With these words, one of our most brilliantly iconoclastic playwrights takes on the art of profession of acting, in a book that is as shocking as it is practical, as witty as it is instructive, and as irreverent as it is inspiring.
Acting schools, “interpretation,” “sense memory,” “The Method”—David Mamet takes a jackhammer to the idols of contemporary acting, while revealing the true heroism and nobility of the craft. He shows actors how to undertake auditions and rehearsals, deal with agents and directors, engage audiences, and stay faithful to the script, while rejecting the temptations that seduce so many of their colleagues. Bracing in its clarity, exhilarating in its common sense, True and False is invaluable.

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True and false: heresy and common sense for the actor

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Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Mamet (e.g., Glengarry Glen Ross), considered a foremost contemporary American dramatist by most critics, here offers a bold new approach to acting. Mamet draws on ... Read full review

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Read the book, but tolerate Mamet's limited understanding of acting technique. He damns "Method" techniques that even Stanislavsky himself abandoned later in his career, and ultimately demands actors be present and active in the moment, work off the other actors, and not to work toward emotion but allow it as a byproduct of truthful behavior. Which, funnily enough, are ALL basic components of Stanislavsky. And as for going to school for acting, he comes from a time when Russian-style technique was just getting around outside of the Actor's Studio, and very few teachers could teach it effectively. So forgive him, he knoweth not what he preacheth.
Despite his near-offensive lack of understanding of the practice, he has valuable observations on the profession. "I'm On the Corner" is great, in which he reinforces how theatre is a labor of love and not for the faint of heart. He has other notable things to say about doing what you love for the sake of loving it, and not selling yourself short in the face of the politics of theatre. But as far what the book professes itself to be, a guide to helping an actor improve his acting, there are far better texts out there.


To the Actor
Business is Business
Paint by Numbers
The Designated Hitter
Eleven OClock Always Comes

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About the author (2011)

David Mamet was born in Chicago in 1947. He studied at Goddard College in Vermont and at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theater in New York. He has taught at Goddard College, the Yale Drama School, and New York University, and lectures at the Atlantic Theater Company, of which he is a founding member. He is the author of the acclaimed plays The Cryptogram, Oleanna, Speed-the-Plow, Glengarry Glen Ross, American Buffalo, and Sexual Perversity in Chicago. He has also written screenplays for such films as House of Games and the Oscar-nominated The Verdict, as well as The Spanish Prisoner, The Winslow Boy, and Wag the Dog. His plays have won the Pulitzer Prize and the Obie Award.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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