Acting the Part

By Peithman, Stephen | Stage Directions, January 2009 | Go to article overview

Acting the Part


Peithman, Stephen, Stage Directions


Resources for performers and teachers

Teacher and acting coach Milton Katselas died Oct. 24 at the age of 75, and his recently published Acting Class: Take a Seat now serves as a summation of the techniques he perfected over many years of working with actors. The first of the book's three sections focuses on acting skills, including how to use observations of life, play comedy, work with directors, and choose and prepare for parts. The second section explains how the right attitude can lead to more work - with chapters on such topics as "Personal Confidence" and "The Arrogance of a Loser." The third section looks at the choices actors must make to advance their career and better their life, which Katselas insists means "seeing to it that you complete these choices, execute them and get them done." The book's three-part organizational principle works well, making clear the interrelationships of craft, personality and organizational skills. It's a good read, too, thanks to Katselas's conversational writing style. [$34.95, Phoenix Books]

Joe Deer and Rocco Dal Vera's Acting in Musical Theatre: A Comprehensive Course provides actors with an independentstudy course in how to approach a role in a musical. The authors address fundamental acting, singing and dancing skills for novice actors, as well as tips to help experienced performers refine their craft. Topics include the fundamentals of acting as applied to musical theatre; script, score and character analysis; acting and performance styles; creating and personalizing a performance; and practical steps to a successful career. Also provided are exercises, a bibliography of useful musical theatre books, a discography of shows and songs cited in the book and a list of useful video performances. [$30.95, Routledge]

Whether in musicals or not, there's more to a successful acting career than acting. Why do some actors make it while others, equally talented, become waiters? Answers to this and other common questions can be found in Paul Russell's Acting - Make It Your Business: How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. Speaking from his experience as a casting director - plus insight gleaned from interviews with working actors and agents - Russell covers auditions, agents, handling rejection, contract negotiating, money management, staying healthy and dealing with people. [$1 9.95, Back Stage Books]

Acting teacher Michael Chekhov, who died in 1955, spent his life creating what was then a completely new and radical approach to acting. Fortunately, his lectures were recorded and over the years have been available in various audio formats. They are once again available in On Theatre and the Art of Acting: The Five-Hour Master Class, spread across four CDs and with an accompanying booklet. Covering material not included in either of Chekhov's books (On the Technique of Acting and To the Actor), these audio lectures include insight into the art of characterization, short cuts to role preparation, ways to awaken artistic feelings and emotions, avoid monotony in performance, overcome inhibitions and build selfconfidence as well as psycho-physical exercises and development of the ensemble spirit.

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