Compiled by : Thembi Zikalala
These picks are for aspiring and established Actors to explore, exercise and harness their acting muscles.
Make a habit of being an avid reader as this increases your knowledge of the craft, empathy and helps you connect with characters fully. These books are published by industry recommended and respected theatre and film practitioners globally. Next to profile are our emerging African Acting Literature books.
1.Title: ‘An Actor Prepares’
Author: Konstantin Stanislavski
Description: The most famous Acting training book ever written. This work is the first volume of Stanislavski’s trilogy on the art of acting. Stanislavski, a Russian actor and theatre practitioner developed a performance process known as ‘method’ acting, allowing actors to use their personal experiences and memories to express real emotions and connect with their character. The book is written like a fictional story, from the perspective of a young actor undergoing acting training. As we learn through the eyes of other learners, the pitfalls, questions, barriers and failures are laid out before us, with the keys by which to solve them.
“An Actor Prepares” is this thorough omnibus of everything you need to know about acting.
2. Title: ‘The Art of Acting’
Author: Stella Adler
Description: Stella is one of the major successors of Konstantin Stanislavski. The book gives practical techniques that are easy to digest, easy to explain, but like with any craft, will take a lot of time and preparation to master.
Stella gives you the tools to prepare and “get out of your own way” when you’re acting. Her book explores her opinions and ideas about modern acting, traditional acting, and various techniques but actual exercises to use and expand your imagination. This book not only reinforces the importance of the actor’s mind; it helps you to see how important it is to communicate information physically. I recommend you have this book in your library.
3.Title: ‘Respect for Acting’
Author: Uta Hagen
Description: Uta Thyra Hagen is a famous German-American actress and theatre practitioner.
“Respect for Acting” provides the reader with an accessible guide to what an actor should go through in preparing to act a role on stage, as well as how to approach the task of acting with self-respect and ability to perform a role.
In the book she explains, directly and simply, how to help an actor of any age explore and find their own talent within themselves and display it for an audience to see and understand. The book does not over talk technique, she believes that actors must be taught to find their way themselves. This book is practical for theatre beginners.
4. Title: ‘Acting Face to Face’
Author: John Sudol
Description: John Sudol is a veteran actor, director, casting director, Hollywood acting teacher and audition coach.
Acting Face to Face: The Actor’s Guide to Understanding How Your Face Communicates Emotion for TV and Film is the first book in a series about the “Language of the Face”. Ideal for students transitioning from stage to screen acting.
‘Acting face to face’ clearly defines the difference between acting for stage where you communicate with your body and voice whereas on camera your third means of communication is your face and the book gives you tools needed to harness that skill.
5. Title: “Towards A Poor Theatre”
Author: Jerzy Grotowski
Description: Jerzy Marian Grotowski was a Polish theatre director and theorist with the most innovative approaches to theatre acting and training.
Towards a Poor Theatre is a collection of essays, interviews, and instructions for actors developed by Grotowski and his Polish Theatre Laboratory to further the theory and practice of acting.
Grotowski’s “poor theatre” has several outcomes, from lighting, makeup, costume, props, and scenery are completely eliminated. In order to break down the barrier between spectator and actor, the entire theatre is made to be the stage, with actors embraced with the audience throughout the space.