7 Must-Read Books For Actors

7 Must-Read Books For Actors

Whether you are already an established actor, an actor looking to make a name for themselves in the industry, or just interested in the opinion of other actors, there are several books out there that would behoove you to read. The backgrounds of these books are varied and range in various aspects so there is sure to be something out there for anyone searching. From director to actor, and playwright to teacher, these are books that are sure to have something for everyone looking to hone in on their craft.

1. A Life in Parts

This autobiography by Bryan Cranston essentially acts as a muse and inspiration for the reader. If you are looking to build your career, gain skills to becoming a better actor, and understand the all-around works of acting in general, than this book is for you.

2. An Actor Prepares

This popular book by Constantin Stanislavski is one of the best, known training books for an actor in the world. This is a book published in the mid-1930s that helps lay the groundwork and fundamentals of acting from every standpoint. You are taught the ways of giving a performance that comes off as real and authentic while also understanding how to prepare for the acting world. It is not enough to just act but to also have the mindset of acting. An Actor Prepares helps with that and so much more.

3. The Actor and the Target

This guide by Declan Donnellan speaks from the perspective of a director. It has a sense of practicality and authenticity not normally found from the director’s perspective so it would definitely behoove someone wanting to see that perspective.

4. The Golden Rules of Acting

This book by Andy Nyman conveys a tale of an actor trying to make it in the world and how to best accomplish that. It is about being successful and working hard to attain that dream by any means necessary.

5. Audition

What is interesting about this book is it is by a casting director, Michael Shurtleff Michael Shurtleff has worked on many different plays that most of us have heard of and talks of the atmosphere between his role and that of the actors. It is an interesting spin that many will find interesting and useful.

6. Respect for Acting

This book is a classic that has been around for over 40 years. Written by Uta Hagen, this book gives the perspective of an acting teacher who helps actors develop their craft and understand what is expected of them in the industry.

7. Actions: the Ator’s Thesaurus

This is an interesting book on the rehearsal by Marina Caldarone that goes into the science and technique of what is expected when rehearsing for a role. You are given action words and other verbiage to help with the layout of a rehearsal room and how to nail it the first time around.

Logan Sekulow is a renowned producer and director.

7 Must Read Books For All Actors

7 Must Read Books For All Actors

Becoming a successful actor requires total commitment to your craft. There’s no such thing as a day off when you’re memorizing scripts, scouring the web for auditions and rehearsing lines on a loop.

When it’s time to sit back and unwind, you can still learn a thing or two about how to improve your acting, land better gigs and find the type of roles you long to perform.

These seven books are essential reading material for the aspiring and professional actor alike.

1. “Audition” By Michael Shurtleff

Written by the director of legendary shows like “Chicago” and “Jesus Christ Superstar”, “Audition” offers actors detailed advice on how to develop their own unique acting style and tailor their performances to specific roles and auditions.

Although the book was written in 1987 and is dated in some aspects, it still offers plenty of sound suggestions worth learning today.

2. “The Actor and the Target” By Declan Donnellan

Actors like Alan Rickman and Peter Brook praised Donnellan’s work, which provides a guide to acting from a director’s perspective. Directing, like acting, is subjective, but you can gain a lot of valuable insight by learning about acting from the other side of the camera.

3. “True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor” By David Mamet

Mamet is an award-winning director who has earned a Pulitzer Prize and Tony nominations for his plays like “Glengarry Glen Ross” and “Speed-the-Plow”. In his book, Mamet gives aspiring actors tips on how to approach agents, evaluate a role and work one-on-one with a playwright to bring out the best performance possible.

4. “Respect for Acting” By Uta Hagen

The Hagen acting method encourages actors to “become” their character. Uta Hagen also came up with the idea of “substitution” in acting, in which actors replace fictional events in a character’s life with real events from their own to draw out more authentic emotion.

“Respect for Acting” outlines Hagen’s teachings in her own words and is still widely endorsed over 40 years after its publication.

5. “In-Depth Acting” By Dee Cannon

Acclaimed acting coach Dee Cannon’s book is a practical guide to Stanislavski’s system. The Stanislavski method of acting helps actors develop their characters in stages. There are seven questions an actor should ask themselves when constructing their character’s persona:

Who am I?
Where am I?
When is it?
What do I want?
Why do I want it?
How will I get it?
What do I need to overcome?

6. “An Actor Prepares” By Constantin Stanislavski

While Cannon’s book offers an explanation of the Stanislavski method from a contemporary coach’s perspective, “An Actor Prepares” is written by Stanislavski himself. The book examines the internal evaluation and preparation the author believes an actor should undergo in preparation of any role.

“An Actor Prepares” is Stanislavski’s first book and one of the most famous acting books in print.

7. “Actions: The Actor’s Thesaurus” By Marina Caldarone

Scripts can be daunting for many actors. The lines aren’t just words on a page but your character’s voice. All of their actions are embedded in their speech, so as an actor, learning how to evaluate dialogue, draw actions from a script and implement them into your performance is crucial to success.

Caldarone’s book offers lists of verbs and their synonyms that actors can use when making notes on their scripts.

Improve Your Acting By Reading

Books can make you a better actor. Everyone learns differently, and sometimes, taking our eyes off the screen and shifting them onto the page can put things into a better perspective and help us grow.

What are some of your favorite acting books?

Logan Sekulow is a renowned producer and director.

7 Must Read Books For Aspiring Actors

7 Must Read Books For Aspiring Actors

If you are an aspiring actor, but are unable to take training lessons, reading about the art form is a great alternative. There are many books currently available to help aspiring actors develop their craft. Here is a look at several books that can help aspiring actors achieve their dreams.

Respect For Acting (Uta Hagen)

For many years, Uta Hagen was asked if she would be interested in writing a book. When the time was right, Hagen accepted and the result is Respect for Acting. In the book, Hagen talks about her struggles with different acting techniques. The book has been used as a textbook for many acting classes. Hagen uses examples to help guide readers through different acting scenarios such as talking to the audience and continuing to find passion in their work. Hagen relies on using substitution to help shape the actions of the character that the actor is portraying.

An Actor Prepares (Constantin Stanislavski)

An Actor Prepares is one of the most famous acting training books of all time. The book stimulates the diary of a student named Kostya during their training in Stanislavski’s famous system. Kostya has no experience in acting. Stanislavski teaches both the reader and Kostya the system through different examples. Stanislavski’s system strives to help actors master their craft while finding their creativity and imagination. Readers will learn about emotion memory, the subconscious mind, and the unbroken line, among other acting skills.

Audition (Michael Shurtleff)

Michael Shurtleff is a famous casting director who helped cast for The Sound of Music, Chicago, and Jesus Christ Superstar. Audition offers insight into how an audition is evaluated. Actors can learn important information about how to deal with the audition site, room relationships, and their peers.

The Actor And The Target (Declan Donnellan)

Declan Donnellan says that acting is a mechanism for development and survival. The Actor and The Target is unique because it is written from a director’s perspective. Actors can learn how to deal with their fears and show the World their talent. The book has been publicly endorsed by Alan Rickman and Joseph Fiennes.

A Life In Parts (Bryan Cranston)

A Life In Parts is the autobiography of Emmy and Tony award winning actor Bryan Cranston. Cranston re-tales the story of his troubled childhood and how he lost, then re-found his love of acting.

In-Depth Acting (Dee Cannon)

Dee Cannon is a full time freelance acting coach. In-Depth Acting helps guide readers through the Stanislavski technique. Cannon helps readers learn about rehearsal guidelines, how to prepare for different auditions, and how to develop a multi-dimensional character. Cannon also provides actors with different preparation exercises.

True And False: Heresy And Common Sense For The Actor (David Mamet)

Pulitzer prize winning playwright and director David Mamet helps actors learn how to judge a role and figure out if its the right fit for them. Mamet advises actors to focus on a few basic principles.

Logan Sekulow is a renowned producer and director.