Engaging. Insightful. Funny. Deadly serious. Most of all, True.
My brother is a professional repetoiry actor in Ft. Worth, Texas. When we met for Christmas two years ago, he couldn't stop talking about this book. I honestly regret not rushing out and buying it then and there. This is useful, actual information about the process of good acting. If you act, buy this book and read it now.
I haven't done traditional theater in over a decade, but even as a slam poet and improvisational comedian, I found what Mamet shares in "True and False" invaluable in approaching my work as a live performer. If you do anything involving words, a stage and an audience, you'll find something useful here. Simply put, what he says works.
The writing is short, eloquent, and straight to the point. The topics he touches on by way of analogy and example make this a great read for actors and non-actors, alike. You can plough through this book in an afternoon, but you'll ponder it and reconsider it for the rest of your professional life. At least, you should, if you want to benefit from it.
He says it best... The audience will teach you to act. They will show you what works and what doesn't. If your job onstage becomes anything more or less than to communicate what the audience has come to see, you may be brilliant, but you're not acting anymore. Chasing emotions you don't feel about a situation you're not actually in is the job of the writer, not the performer.
You probably won't agree with 100% of what he has to say. Scratch that, you *won't* agree with everything here, but even then, he will force you to reconsider what you do believe. And, just what is the jist of what his supposedly "heretical" views on acting?
Speak clearly. Find a simple, realistic objective for the scene. Let the words have their meaning without adding your own spin to them. Your own effective performance in their service will add anything of value that the audience couldn't have gotten from reading them off the page.
Now, what's so false about that?