Books on Acting are a real mixed bag. Mainly because they tend to fall into two categories:
- A memoir of choices made by a specific performer/teacher in their own specific career.
- A theoretical treatise on how the author’s technique is a true ‘artistic path’ that requires complete dedication to in order to utilize it 'properly'.
And the authors of those books all have the best of intentions. Almost every author is insistent their book is ‘practical’, ‘actor-friendly’, ‘anti-dogmatic’ and helps an actor “help themselves”… So you have to be be very careful and constantly test what these authors are writing to make sure it actually resonates and helps you.
The general rule mantra I use is “the thinner the book, the better chance it has of helping me make a choice I can actually play”. That doesn't mean I don't like thicker books, or loftier ideas. It's just that when things are down-to-the-wire, and I need a book to help me break open a problem I'm struggling with, I tend to find the thinner books are always the most beneficial.
So here are my top 10 books on acting. There’s not really an ‘order’, but the ones I use the most are nearest the top of the list.
- Charles Jehlinger in Rehearsal
- The Actor and The Target by Declan Donnellan
- A Practical Handbook for the Actor by Melissa Bruder et all
- The Science of On-Camera Acting by Andrea Morris
- To The Actor / On the Technique of Acting by Michael Chekhov
- The Way of Acting by Tadashi Suzuki
- The Actor’s Art and Craft by William Esper and Damon Demarco)
- Laban for All by Jean Newlove
- Games for Actors and Non-Actors by Augusto Boal
- Sanford Meisner on Acting