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5.0 out of 5 stars Important on Levels Far Beyond Acting. THE ACTOR'S ART AND CRAFT: A Critical Review., Aug. 12 2010
By 
Andre Lawrence (Miami, Florida) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Actor's Art and Craft: William Esper Teaches the Meisner Technique (Paperback)
Off and on for the past 15 years, I've worked as an educator: middle school, at-risk youth and, since 2009, adult literacy.

One of the things I teach is that your personal reading list can (and should) have three (3) types of books. The first, books that are used to educate. These could be academic or even technical books in a specific field of interest. The second are books that you'd read for pleasure with no intellectual expectation. And, the third are books that add value to your life as a human being. They may (or may not) have an overtly religious theme but you're affected in a way that inspires you to be a better person morally, ethically and spiritually. The great books can fall into all three categories. The writings of Dostoevsky and Tolkien fall into this category for me. However, there are books that fall into two categories: THE ACTOR'S ART AND CRAFT is just such an example.

THE ACTOR'S ART AND CRAFT is, on the surface, a book about acting based on Sanford "Sandy" Meisner's technique as taught by William Esper. The book was written in tandem with Damon DiMarco, a former student who wanted to chronicle the approach that actors like Kim Basinger, Kathy Bates, Jeff Goldblum, John Malkovich, Paul Sorvino and many, many others used under the direction of "Bill" Esper.

The book starts out with a freshman group of students who've been accepted into Esper's class, including a veteran stage actress and follows their progression as Esper lays out the building blocks of what it takes to develop this skill. But, like the students in Esper's class, the reader is also to learn something other than becoming "someone else."

Inherent in these techniques is the development of three (3) behavioral traits that are essential for success in life. 1. A positive mental attitude and disposition. 2. Focusing one's attention on a desired result. 3. Expecting situations to work in one's favor. For me, this is the real meat and potatoes of the book.

Having had classes in theater and film as an undergraduate and, later working in the theater for several years, I was only aware of Stanislavsky's method, the most well-known and revered acting method, but Meisner's routine has some similarities, but branches off into areas of impulse and instinct.

If you're interested in acting and/or interested in overcoming fears that prevent you from putting your best foot forward, the practice described herein will give you the confidence and the encouragement to be the person you know yourself to be.
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