Customer Reviews


33 Reviews
5 star:
 (18)
4 star:
 (4)
3 star:
 (4)
2 star:
 (6)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Short, Blunt Treatise
As many of you know, I rarely write about the craft of acting. My bailiwick is more properly described the "doing business" side of the acting profession. However, I do appreciate those who do write about the "nuts and bolts" of acting professionally, so I thought I'd share this review of David Mamet's latest book, True and False, which appeared in...
Published on July 22 2005 by Bob Fraser

versus
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Speak the Speech with an Attitude
An odd passage catches your eye in the first pages of True and False, which in a sense is not just Mamet's manifesto on acting and a proper way of life in the performing arts, but a manifesto as to the nature of narrative, and hence a view to most of his output. He writes: "Most of us, in the course of a day or a week, treat ourselves to the fantasy of the Bad News...
Published on Sept. 20 2002 by Atar Hadari


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Speak the Speech with an Attitude, Sept. 20 2002
By 
Atar Hadari (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor (Paperback)
An odd passage catches your eye in the first pages of True and False, which in a sense is not just Mamet's manifesto on acting and a proper way of life in the performing arts, but a manifesto as to the nature of narrative, and hence a view to most of his output. He writes: "Most of us, in the course of a day or a week, treat ourselves to the fantasy of the Bad News at the Doctor's Office in which we are invited to sit and hear our fate. And in that fantasy we are stoical and simple, and that is of course what makes the fantasy so pleasing to indulge in- we wait to hear the verdict on our future bravely."
Now, I can't say this has ever crossed my mind daily, weekly or in the course of a year. When last given bad news by a doctor I was irritable, to say the least, and stoicism was not uppermost in my mind - my aching limbs more probably were - but to Mamet this position of a macho virtue is central.

Mamet's principal point in True and False is that there is no magic, no emotion: "The actor does not need to "become" the character. The phrase, in fact, has no meaning. There is no character. There are only lines upon a page. They are lines of dialogue meant to be said by the actor. When he or she says them simply, in an attempt to achieve an object more or less like that suggested by the author, the audience sees an illusion of a character upon the stage." And, later, it is back to the machismo virtue: "An apprenticeship spent looking inward for supposed "emotion", while perhaps spent with honest motives, trains one only to be a gull. An actor should never be looking inward. He or she must keep the eyes open to see what the other actor is doing... To face the world is brave. To turn outward rather than inward and face the world which you would have to face in any case - such may not win the day, but it will always allow you to live the day as an adult." So any of Mamet's characters, like the actor, and presumably Mamet, are all alike in their predicament - they may not be successful but they are trying to face outward, to keep their eyes open, and take it like a man.
What Simon Callow, one critic of Mamet's acting critique, says is that people come to the theatre to see character, on stage, not the author's lines, and it is creating character that actors are paid for. With a view to both Mamet's novel and movies, it must be said that he has a point. Now, Callow, in a book of his own, the biography of the actor Charles Laughton, distinguished actors into two schools - those of Olivier and Laughton. Olivier worked from the outside, putting together a character out of bits and bobs - a nose here, a mustache there, a pair of shoes - and "swimming between these things" he said, he eventually found a creature. This is acting by instinct, not really technique, though Olivier was much regarded as artificial, and Mamet, by his theory, would not approve. The other school, Laughton's, finds the character within their own voluminous parade of sins and pulls, from within their capacious trove of maladies, a timbre or attitude akin to that they find before them in the role. That too, Mamet would not approve. Mamet sometimes presents actors with a type, with an intention and a list of objectives which - by his theory - should be enough to play with bravery - but the bravery is not a personality, it is not alive. It is not finally an expression of the individual, just a stare of fear.
Mamet cites, as the rewards of his career in theatre and film, a series of personal high-points: meeting Jose Ferrer ("the greatest every Cyrano"), walking across a room to chat up a gorgeous slim readhead with her back to him to find it was Lillian Gish, who talked to him for half an hour about "Mr. Griffiths", getting advice about his first screenplay through Bob Rafaelson, the director, from Sam Rafaelson, the director's uncle and author of the first talky screenplay. These people that he mentions, that he worships, and whose respect is what he claims to work for, are personalities finally, not an attitude to fear. They are collections of tics, prevailing in the face of a general inclination to downward slide. Likewise in Wag the Dog, Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro won great acclaim for playing, respectively, an overblown Hollywood producer and a political advisor. Hoffman's performance, and in part Mamet's very witty characterisation in the script, are widely thought to be based on the personality of the scandal sized producer Robert Evans. De Niro's performance in the larger and in many ways less colourful role of the low-key political advisor is all in the slouch of a particularly rumpled hat on a crumpled face, it's all in the way he disappears in a deckchair. This is not action, as Mamet would call it, this is nuance, personal charm.

What Mamet in life and his best work recognizes is the immediacy of the individual - there is no American writer more accutely alert to the half beats and consonants of a casual word - but what he fails in his philosophy, this novel and SOME work to acknowledge is that no system and no attitude will actually survive more than the subtle spark, the twist of personal quirk hard not to recall, the personal grace. And that is all that will survive and all they will remember, however you hash the fear up and however you face the day. At the end only your self, not your good face will matter, what sparked care. All that survives of us is love.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Short, Blunt Treatise, July 22 2005
By 
This review is from: True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor (Paperback)
As many of you know, I rarely write about the craft of acting. My bailiwick is more properly described the "doing business" side of the acting profession. However, I do appreciate those who do write about the "nuts and bolts" of acting professionally, so I thought I'd share this review of David Mamet's latest book, True and False, which appeared in the August 04 issue of my newsletter, Hollywood How-To.
I first became acquainted with David Mamet when I worked on the Los Angeles production of American Buffalo in 1978. I must admit I didn't like the play very much but, hey, a gig is a gig.
A couple of years later I saw the PBS production of The Water Engine and I was engaged by the performance of William H. Macy - and I liked the premise of the piece. But I still thought the play was lacking.
Then I saw A Life In The Theatre and I became a fan. To me, it was the first play about acting that really got to the heart of the actor's life and problems. It was obviously written by someone who had a great love of acting and actors. It was a revelation.
I have watched Mamet's writing and directing career ever since. His book, Writing in Restaurants was one of my own touchstones as I pursued my own love of writing. It has become obvious over the intervening years that David Mamet is a force to be reckoned with in the American theatre. In the fullness of time I have no doubt that his influence will be considered crucial to the development of modern acting and story-telling.
When he made the move into motion pictures, first as a writer and then as writer/director, he delivered some of the most startling and amazing stories and performances of the late twentieth century - right up through today. Not that every time at bat was a home run - but every effort was unique and entrancing. Anyone who wants a glance "behind the scenes" of a movie production is advised to see State and Main which I believe is the truest and funniest portrayal of what goes on in the making of a movie.
His latest book, True and False, is the finest book I've read about acting since I first started reading Stanislavsky's trilogy (a must for every actor). Mamet cuts right to the chase in this amazing book. It is not a tome, but rather a short, blunt treatise on the craft of acting that I cannot recommend too highly.
Before you run out and get a copy though, I have a caveat: This book is not for the beginning actor. Until you have spent some time on the boards, plying your craft, much of what Mamet says might be confusing and perhaps even misleading. The reason is simple - this book was written for the employed actor who is looking for a useable method to build and sustain a performance in a professional setting.
That is not to say that every actor will not gain insight and inspiration from his words, it's just that those at the start of their career will not have the experience to draw from that Mamet's credo demands.
Spencer Tracy, arguably one of the finest film actors ever, is famously quoted as saying, about acting, "Just say the gags and don't bump into the furniture." This is a bon mot that has been repeated around green rooms and holding areas since Pluto was a pup, but few actors understand the import of it. Mamet sets out to explain exactly what Tracy was talking about (although he never mentions this quote) in a well thought out, brilliantly written argument.
Laurence Olivier once said it took him twenty years to learn how to be simple. Again, this is an important bit of information for the actor who strives for believability and "realness." And again, Mamet's book goes a long way toward educating us about the exact meaning of Olivier's comment.
This is a book that can be read in one sitting but it might take quite awhile for the information to "settle in." I found myself going back and re-reading, underlining and even writing down the many gems Mamet presents. His take on how to deal with producers, casting directors, other actors and critics is worth the price of the book alone.
Not only does he cover the basics of believable acting, the correct position of the actor in the story telling process and several methods of working - he also underscores the importance of the actor's psychology to the entire process of doing well in the acting profession. I found myself nodding in agreement on practically every page. If you can absorb and put to use the skills Mamet espouses, it is inconceivable that you will not become a more employable actor.
We see many actors at the top levels of the business today who can be classified as being of the "Chicago school." Most of these stars and well known character actors are utilizing the methods that Mamet explains. In fact, I don't think it is too much to say that modern acting owes much to David Mamet and those who follow his dictums.
If you have been acting for awhile and you are ready to take the next step in developing your craft, you will be doing yourself a favor by getting, reading and using David Mamet's True and False.
It's a modern classic.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Profound and Silly., Sept. 3 2003
By 
the wizard of uz (Studio City, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor (Paperback)
A very good book insofar as an expose of The Method. Mamet is an excellent critic but a muddled theoretician and his advice ends up sounding as dogmatic as Stanislavsky and as reductionist as Strassberg.
Lee's "Method" appropiated one of Stanislavsky's early theories and absorbed all of the others into it, unintentinally (?) giving them secondary status. This theory was and is 'Affective Memory' ( or as Mamet refers to it , the acting equivalent of 'paint-by-the numbers') wherein an actor would remember experiences that had moved him in his past and then tie them or substitute them to the character he was portraying them to infuse it with 'truth'.
Interestingly, 99% of Affective Memory exercises deal with past pain: Your father's death, your sister's suicide, uncle Ethelbert molesting you in the closet when you were 9, etc.
This leads to some bummed out acting sessions and practising guru-psychoanalyst-con men. (I refer to Harold Clurman's remarks on Lee as quoted in 'Acting without Agony' by Don Richardson ) and more importantly to a new convention as artificial as the 19th century's dictum that an actor should not turn his back on the audience while exiting the stage; namely the dogma of REAL TEARS.
Method loons are fond of contrasting 'indicating' which is bad with 'truthfulness' which is neato, and the yardstick generally employed is REAL TEARS.
Thus whether you're playing Hamlet in his "O What a rogue" speech or Felix Ungar in The Odd Couple in the scene where he shows a photograph of his family to the two cuties, the scene specifies weeping and thus the true actor will cry REAL TEARS.
Never mind that one's a classical drama and the other's a comedy, that's irrelevent and The Method wants you to cry. So go to class, remember personal tragedies, and suffer agony for art's sake.
Mamet makes fun of this lunacy and defends the primacy of the play, of the written word. Acting is after all, an interpretive, performing, and secondary art to writing. Here he is on solid ground , following Bertol Brecht's gripe that Stanislavskian actors mangled the author's work just so they could commit an "emotional striptease" on the stage.
But what advice does he offer instead?
Well there are some 'common sense' gems such as his request not to indulge in "Funny Voices" and to let the audience teach you, rather than stay in school/studio/labs/workshops forever.
But after all is said and done, he goes back to "that hack" Stanislavsky and his famous saying that the person you are is infinitely more interesting that any character you could act. Thus he ultimately advises stepping out on stage as yourself, picking a simple objective (which will give 'the illusion' of the character) and BEING BRAVE.
This is a wee bit silly since characters are not created quite THAT simply. At the risk of repetition, it is as reductionist of Stanislavsky as anything Lee ever came up with.
Mamet, like Brecht and unlike say, William Saroyan or Anton Chekhov is not exactly known for the warmth of his characters. Perhaps this has something to do with his attitude.
For a far less vehement and more constructive ctitique try "The End of Acting" by Richard Hornby.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars True!, June 13 2003
By 
Andrew J Neely "bad-andy" (Omaha, Nebraska United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor (Paperback)
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?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars True!, June 13 2003
By 
Andrew J Neely "bad-andy" (Omaha, Nebraska United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor (Paperback)
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?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2.0 out of 5 stars .. humbug..., April 3 2003
By 
This review is from: True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor (Paperback)
The chip is as big on Mamet's shoulder as the callus is thick on his dead soul. A product of his own marketing, a man whose reputation as a playwright is based on his ability to "capture the subtleties of the language of the day" of various stereotypes in modern western society, his plays become irrelevant ten years after their introduction to the world.
Irrelevant because the words no longer seem "brilliant or clever". Irrelevent because the petty lives of his petty inventions become dated. Irrelevant because the art of the actor, which he obviously despises, transcends the ".. strong voice, diction, ... supple, well proportioned body..." needed to give any dramatic piece longevity.
The actor as "craftsman" wastes much time worrying about pleasing the David Mamet's of the world. The actor as "artist" doesn't need to please the David Mamet's of the world, and in fact doesn't need words to communicate the life of the human spirit.
Give me Al Pacino. Give David Mamet Tom Cruise. Give me Dustin Hoffman. Give David Mamet Robert Redford. Give me Robert DuVall, Gene Hackman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Robert DeNiro, Bridget Fonda, Patricia Arquette, Martin Landau, Ellen Burstyn,
Mickey Rourke and Shelley Winters. Give David Mamet Luke Perry. Humbug to you, Mamet. Thanks to you, now I've got a chip on my shoulder.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars A Challenge to the Actor, Dec 1 2002
By 
"psyges" (Indiana, PA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor (Paperback)
Mamet is an infuriating author.
He calls Stanislavski a "hack," and yet his system is based upon a part of Stanislavski's system: the actor's objective.
Mamet derides acting schools, and yet the Atlantic Theater has an actor training program based upon the system that he devised. It's as if his system is the one "correct" one. (If Mamet were religious, he would make a great Baptist.)
Mamet's method is exclusive- it only provides for actor's working on a written text. What about actor's who are creating a piece of theatre? How are they to analyze their lines and find an objective? What if there are no lines? What if it is a piece based on sound and rhythm?
Mamet could pose very good answers to all of these questions. So could I. This is merely to demonstrate that Mamet seems to argue that everything he says is the truth with absoloute finality. Mamet is an infuriating author.
But the infuriation is well worth it. By forcing us to question our ideas about acting, school, etc. -- Mamet is doing a lot of good. Read this book. Be outraged. Be challenged. Question, think, and either you'll have been enlightened by Mamet or you'll come out having reinforced your own ideas.
It's a concise, lively read.
Cheers!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Finally!!, Oct. 4 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor (Paperback)
I have been in theater for years and am sick and tired of the emphasis on Stanislavski. His methods are only useful to hacks and actually impede the progress of those with any talent. If nothing else, this book is valuable just for the few words of wisdom it lends to those who have found acting under "the method" to be torture. It frees them from the shackles of established thought and allows them to view themselves and their abilities in a more positive and productive light. I don't agree with everything he says, and I'm actually not too fond of the man, but I think that this book is an important read for anyone who is frustrated with the "Stanislavski as God" culture of today's theater and theater schooling.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars the NEW actor's Bible!, Aug. 21 2002
By 
Kris Owens (Muncie, IN United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor (Paperback)
David Mamet's True and False is one of the best books that I have read on the subject in recent history. Many people were surprised or shocked to read some of what he has to say, and for good reason. Mamet doesn't "trash" Stanislavsky, Strasberg, or the Method, as much as he offers an alternative to it. The Method is simply the universal standard by which he bases his criticisms of current acting techniques. Even if you don't agree with everything he outlines in the book, some of it can be used, or at least adapted to better help the actor. True and False should be read, and read again. Once I finish I just start back at the beginning and always find something new. An excellent companion book written by students of Mamet is A Practical Handbook for the Actor. It applies some of the techniques outlined in True and False into real stage experience. I've grown to love the Mamethod!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2.0 out of 5 stars Sense and Nonsense in the Theatre, March 27 2002
By 
Ben Menadue (Truro, Cornwall, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor (Paperback)
Mr Mamet makes a convincing case for the perfect actor being 'Joey' in 'Friends' - I had previously thought Brando was rather good myself, but now have discovered he was rubbish by reading this book. Entertaining silliness throughout - perfect for breaking the ice at play readings and provoking pretentious conversations among thespians and directors everywhere. I don't believe that Mamet's take on acting is nonsense... I accept it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor
True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor by David Mamet (Paperback - Feb. 22 1999)
CDN$ 17.99 CDN$ 12.99
In stock on August 1, 2014
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews