The Actor's Art online sale and Craft: William online Esper Teaches the Meisner Technique outlet online sale

The Actor's Art online sale and Craft: William online Esper Teaches the Meisner Technique outlet online sale

The Actor's Art online sale and Craft: William online Esper Teaches the Meisner Technique outlet online sale
The Actor's Art online sale and Craft: William online Esper Teaches the Meisner Technique outlet online sale_top

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Product Description

William Esper, one of the leading acting teachers of our time, explains and extends Sanford Meisner''s legendary technique, offering a clear, concrete, step-by-step approach to becoming a truly creative actor.Esper worked closely with Meisner for seventeen years and has spent decades developing his famous program for actor''s training. The result is a rigorous system of exercises that builds a solid foundation of acting skills from the ground up, and that is flexible enough to be applied to any challenge an actor faces, from soap operas to Shakespeare. Co-writer Damon DiMarco, a former student of Esper''s, spent over a year observing his mentor teaching first-year acting students. In this book he recreates that experience for us, allowing us to see how the progression of exercises works in practice. The Actor''s Art and Craft vividly demonstrates that good training does not constrain actors'' instincts—it frees them to create characters with truthful and compelling inner lives.

Review

"Utterly inspirational. . . . The best book on the craft of acting that I have ever read." --Mary Steenburgen

"As far as I''m concerned, there is only way to learn the craft of acting, and that is through the Meisner technique. And there is only one person to learn that technique from, and that is William Esper." --Patricia Heaton

"The essence of this book is like William Esper himself: kind/clear, caring/generous, passionate/graceful, brilliant/profound. Inspiring. Invaluable." --Jeff Goldblum

"A veritable magnum opus on acting from a Master Teacher." --Olympia Dukakis

"Working with Bill Esper was an inspiring and unforgettable experience. . . . Every serious actor who dreams of becoming a first-rate artist must read this book!" --Calista Flockhart

About the Author

William Esper is a graduate of Western Reserve University and the Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theatre in New York City. Bill trained as both actor and teacher under Sanford Meisner. Bill and Sandy worked closely together for 17 years, during which time Bill served as Associate Director of the Playhouses''s Acting Department (1973-1976). Bill founded the William Esper Studio in 1965 and the Professional Actor Training Program at Rutgers University''s Mason Gross School of the Arts in 1977. These two schools are renowned for routinely contributing actors of the highest quality to the International stage and screen.

Damon DiMarco earned his MFA from the Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts under Bill Esper''s tutelage. He has acted professionally on stage, screen, and TV and currently teaches acting and directing at Drew University. Damon''s other books include, Tower Stories: an Oral History of 9/11; Out of Bounds (with Roy Simmons); and Heart of War: Soldiers'' Voices from the Front Lines of Iraq.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

ONEBEGIN AGAIN--EMPTY YOUR CUP"How is it that little children are so intelligent and men so stupid? It must be education that does it."--Alexander DumasSixteen students wait for Bill to arrive, eight men and eight women. These actors have been carefully selected for their talent, potential, and seriousness of purpose. They come from across the United States and around the world. Some have long resumes stocked with impressive credits; some have acted only in small theaters. Many have studied with various teachers who have espoused different approaches to the craft of acting. Each actor seems to possess talent. In their admission interviews, however, each disclosed unique problems--issues and obstacles that have blocked them from fully realizing their talent.Everyone smiles in a nervous but genuine way. Introductions are made here and there. We wait.The room''s walls are painted neutral gray. There are no windows and only one door. The class is seated in chairs on low risers stacked against the room''s southern end, facing this door across an open space. The risers form the students'' gallery. Bill''s desk is situated to the side--also looking into the playing area.The floor is bare, save for two mattresses lying on low bed frames, one against the west wall, one against the east. A shelving unit set to one side contains an array of props: liquor bottles, vases, books, plates, kitchen utensils, strings of Christmas lights, coffee mugs, and a manual typewriter that easily dates back to the 1940s, all available for communal use.The door to studio C swings open and Bill enters. Everyone quiets instantly. Bill moves to his desk without pausing and grunts a hello, which the class returns enthusiastically. Taking a seat at his desk, he opens a brand-new class roster and reads it for a long moment. Then, apparently satisfied, he looks up and begins."Once there was a student who desperately wanted to learn about Zen. So he approached the house of a great Zen master. The master, in a moment of uncharacteristic graciousness, invited the student inside."They sat down to tea and the master asked the student, ''Why have you come?'' The student opened his mouth and started to babble. A torrent of words poured forth: testaments to his immense curiosity, his passion, his understanding and confusion regarding Zen. On and on the student talked. The master blinked, then set to work making tea. He set out cups, ground the tea leaves, and boiled water while the student kept talking."The young man only shut his mouth when the master started to pour the tea. The old man filled the student''s cup until the tea reached the brim and overflowed, running all over the table, scalding hot. ''My God!'' cried the student. ''What have you done?''"The old man stopped pouring and said, ''Your mind is like this cup of tea. How can I put anything in it when it''s already full? If you wish to learn Zen, you must bring me an empty cup.''"Bill sits there, watching, as the class takes this in."Now tell me," he says. "Why are you here?"At first no one speaks. Then someone from the back row says: "To study acting."Bill thinks about this. "Yes, but what is acting exactly? If you wish to study it, it''s good to be clear about what it is."No one speaks. So Bill says, "All right, let me put it this way. Suppose that today you were walking down the streets of Manhattan and you bumped into a Martian. A real, honest-to-God Martian--an alien from another planet. You know he''s a Martian because of his short build, green skin, and wiggling antennae."I glance around. Everyone''s eyes are wide."Well, naturally you''re a little curious, right? So let''s say you strike up a conversation with this guy. ''How''s life on Mars?'' ''Oh, not bad. How''s life on Earth?''--that sort of thing. And pretty soon the Martian gets around to asking you, ''So, what is it that you do? By that I mean, what is your profession?'' And you say to him--proudly, I hope: ''Well. I''m an actor.''"The Martian says, ''Really? An actor? What''s that? We don''t have any actors on Mars.'' How would you explain to him what exactly an actor does?"A thin, wiry young man with a contagious grin and a shock of coarse black hair raises his hand. From the previous introductions I know that his name is Trevor. Bill points to him, and Trevor says, "Acting is living in make-believe."Bill cocks an eyebrow. "Hmmm. You''re onto something. When you say make-believe, I take it you''re trying to bring up a point about imagination, am I right?"Trevor thinks. Nods."Good. Because imagination is very important for actors, and we''ll be using it a lot. But let''s leave that alone and come back to it. Who else has an idea?"A pretty blond girl with a soft British accent raises her hand. She introduces herself as Amber. Bill points at her. "So what do you think? What is acting?""Acting is a form of entertainment," she says.Bill winces. "Okay," he says. "But so are carnival freak shows, croquet matches, and wrestling. When you get right down to it, tiddlywinks is a form of entertainment. I''d hoped we could aspire to something a little higher than that in here. I don''t mean to be sharp, but it''s got to be more than entertainment. Much more. Otherwise we''d all be stand-up comedians instead of artists."Vanessa, a petite African-American woman, says, "You know what I''d tell that Martian? I''d tell him that acting is portraying a character from a story."Bill thinks. "Okay," he says. "But let me get this straight. This story you''re talking about. It takes place onstage, right? So . . . is it real?"Vanessa thinks for a moment. Then she shakes her head."No, it''s not," says Bill. "In other words, it''s a work of imagination. So here we are again, bringing up this point about imagination." He looks back at Trevor, who nods. "Maybe we''ve pinned down that acting must have something to do with the imagination."Several students have begun to take notes. Bill continues: "Here in the studio we have a working definition of acting. This definition comes straight from my own teacher, Sanford Meisner, and--after forty years of teaching--I personally believe it''s still valid. Sandy said that ''Acting is the ability to live truthfully under imaginary circumstances.'' Have you got that?"Sixteen heads bob up and down as the class bends to its notebooks.Bill scratches his chin through his beard and frowns. Then he continues: "All right, then. Let''s examine this a bit. Acting is living truthfully under imaginary circumstances. Fine. But before we go any further, let''s break that definition down. It seems to me that there are two important factors in that definition that need to be defined. What are they?""Living truthfully," says someone in the front row."That''s right," says Bill. "That''s a big one. What else?""Imagination. Imaginary," says a female voice from behind me."Okay," says Bill. "Let''s try to define those things."Bill looks at the door to the studio for a moment, as if waiting for someone to walk through it. Then he says, "Truth is so important to art, because isn''t that how we judge the things we see? Think about it. Have any of you ever come out of a play or a film and said, ''Oh, I really loved it! It was so phony! I didn''t believe one moment of it!''"Everyone laughs. Bill chuckles, too. "Truth is the blood of art. Without truth a piece of art fails to touch the human spirit." Someone in the back row grunts their approval, and Bill continues. "Now let''s look at the other side of this definition, the imaginary part. Imagination is pivotal for actors because everything we do, every piece of our craft takes place in the world of imagination."When you go to see a play--Hamlet, for instance--you know the man dressed in black isn''t really a prince of Denmark. That woman who''s marrying her brother-in-law isn''t really the queen. As a matter of fact, you''re not even in Denmark. You''re sitting in upper-mezzanine seats in a Broadway house on Forty-fifth Street and the whole thing is a tissue of lies, a figment of William Shakespeare''s imagination. So, if it''s all lies, how can we talk about it being truthful?"Amber looks up. "Because if the actors are skilled, you forget that it''s a lie."Bill nods. "That''s right. If the actors are skilled, we''ll begin to react to the events onstage as if they were real, as if we were bystanders at some actual event. Do you know why this happens?"Amber thinks, then shakes her head."Because if in fact the actors are skilled, what we''re watching isn''t pretend. It is an actual event. Do you see how that could be? Hemingway once said, ''All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened.'' Isn''t that exactly what we''re talking about here?"More notes. Bill presses forward. "Are you familiar with the late great Harold Clurman? He was an esteemed critic, director, and teacher who was instrumental in founding the Group Theater--maybe the most important theater we''ve ever had in this country. One of his books was a collection of his theater reviews which he titled Lies Like Truth. I love that title because it captures the essence of theater in three simple words. Lies Like Truth. That''s the nature of all good acting: illusion that is real. Imagination made true."An older woman named Joyce raises her hand. I remember Bill telling me about her. She''d been a moderately successful regional-theater actor for years before taking time off to raise a family. "So are you saying that actors are liars?"The class laughs. Bill turns to her and smiles. "As a matter of fact, that''s exactly what I''m saying."Everyone stops laughing."Yes, actors are wonderful liars. They can make you believe anything, can''t they? They''ll convince you they just won a million dollars or that their mother died this morning. They''ll talk with an accent and make you think they''re German when in fact they grew up in Australia. They''re wonderful liars--but the difference is this: Their lies are always grounded in truth, and always--always!--their lies serve the purpose of art."The class is silent. After a sustained moment Bill continues. "You know, I interview students before they come to study with me. I''ll often ask, ''Have you ever acted before?'' Occasionally someone will say, ''Well, no! I''ve never acted--not in a play or on TV or in a film. But I act all the time! In life!'' What I suppose they really mean is that they lie a lot. To which I say, ''Nonsense! That''s not acting.'' Because acting doesn''t take place under life circumstances; it takes place within the confines of imaginary circumstances."Bill pauses, thinking about something. "Do you see the difference?" he asks.The class nods."So we''ve got this wonderful working definition of acting--acting is living truthfully under imaginary circumstances. But there''s a problem with it, isn''t there? You see the problem, don''t you?"The class stares at Bill with blank expressions."Well, it''s sort of a general definition, isn''t it?"No one answers."Let me show you what I mean," Bill says. He points to one of the young men in the front row. "You," he says. "What''s your name?"The young man has thick black hair and an open expression that is at once both alarmingly direct and vulnerable. He says, "My name is Dom.""Okay, Dom," says Bill. "This definition we have for acting. What is it again?"Dom repeats, "Living truthfully under imaginary circumstances."Bill grins. "Would you do me a favor, then?"Dom is cautious. "Sure.""Would you mind coming up here and doing a little ''truthful living'' for everyone? Just as an example, of course."Dom doesn''t move.Bill leans forward. "Is there a problem?""I don''t . . . I mean . . . I . . .""What''s up?""I wouldn''t know where to begin.""Why not?"Dom''s face becomes a mask of puzzlement. ". . . ''living'' . . . ?"Bill raises his eyebrows. "Don''t you know what ''living'' means?"Dom struggles with this for a moment but eventually shakes his head."Okay," says Bill. "This is the problem I was talking about. We need to pin this down before we go any further: What does ''living'' mean?"A quick glance around at the class tells me that everyone sees the point Bill''s trying to make.Bill says, "Dom, let me ask you. Were you living today? You were alive, weren''t you? This morning, I mean."Dom thinks, then nods very slowly.Bill smiles at Dom and continues. "Okay. Good to hear. So, Dom, while you were alive this morning, what did you do?""This morning?""Before you came here. Yes."Dom thinks for a moment. "I got up. I made breakfast. I ate it."Bill seems pleased. "Uh-huh," he says--as if to say, Continue.Dom glances at the ceiling, thinking. "I answered a few phone calls. Uh, got the paper. I looked for jobs in the classified section. Then I paid my phone bill. Went to the subway station. Bought a new MetroCard and came here."Bill nods, satisfied. "Okay. So. You did all those things, huh? And maybe tomorrow you''ll do some more things. Maybe a lot more. Right?"Dom shrugs. "Have to. I have to find a job."The class laughs.Bill smiles. "I sympathize. But listen. Maybe you''ve already answered the question about what ''living'' is."Dom stares at him, waiting."You say you did all those things today and that you''ll do some more things tomorrow. So. Maybe ''living'' can be defined by what you do."Dom thinks about it. Nods. This makes sense to him.Bill returns his look to the class. "Listen, this is very important. Let''s substitute the word ''doing'' for ''living.'' So now we have: acting is doing--really doing--truthfully under imaginary circumstances."This principle--the reality of doing--is the foundation of all good acting and the cornerstone on which all of Sanford Meisner''s work is built. The focus of our work will therefore be on learning to really do. This is our first step on the path to the art of acting."A whipcord-thin man with curly blond hair and a sardonic voice calls out. This is Kenny."But how do we know when we''re really doing something as opposed to just . . . you know."Bill cocks his head. "As opposed to not doing it? As opposed to pretending?""Yeah.""Tell me, how many letters are there in your first and last name combined?""What?""I asked you how many letters are in your name."

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Top reviews from the United States

Sandor Clegane
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Useful for Classroom Setting Only
Reviewed in the United States on September 10, 2018
In my journeys researching the different acting techniques, trying them out, and weighing the pros and cons, I''ve come to the conclusion that the Meisner Technique is most useful in a classroom setting, or in certain theater pieces that are performed once, live. Adding the... See more
In my journeys researching the different acting techniques, trying them out, and weighing the pros and cons, I''ve come to the conclusion that the Meisner Technique is most useful in a classroom setting, or in certain theater pieces that are performed once, live. Adding the unpredictable, unanticipated, unplanned Meisner approach is often engaging, but just as often falls flat. And if you need to do repeat takes, as for a film, forget it. Good luck duplicating what you just did. Everything you do in this technique is in direct spontaneous response to what your scene partner is doing. If they give you something different next take, your return will be different as well. Good luck not driving your film director crazy.

As to the book itself, it is presented as a series of acting classes, with contrived drawn-out examples based (apparently) on actual things that have occurred in Esper''s class over his career. The increasingly-complex exercises on display seem to be designed solely for classroom use, and he seems to spend the majority of his time telling his students why what they''re doing is wrong. And the parameters for success in this contrived environment seem subjective as well, without a very clear explanation as to why one actor "succeeded" while the other did not. But even when they get it right, I had a hard time picturing any of it being useful on a film set. Film needs to be more crafted and deliberate and repeatable, while maintaining the illusion of spontaneity. Try Chekhov.
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Matt
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Clear and Engaging
Reviewed in the United States on April 25, 2015
As an actor I''m always interested in reading good books on the craft of acting, learning about different techniques, and seeking ways to improve my work. The last word, "improve", is perhaps the most difficult to quantify as that improvement necessitates both an... See more
As an actor I''m always interested in reading good books on the craft of acting, learning about different techniques, and seeking ways to improve my work. The last word, "improve", is perhaps the most difficult to quantify as that improvement necessitates both an objective method of judgement and a standard toward which "improvement" can be made (something that might seem fairly hard to come by when discussing the arts, and perhaps most especially the art and craft of the actor). But when it comes right down to it, it''s really not all that hard to understand what makes acting good or bad. To paraphrase Esper, "No one comes out of a play or movie saying ''Wow, those actors were so good! I didn''t believe a thing they said.''" Therefore we can say that in all most all contemporary contexts "good acting" is acting that is indistinguishable from truly living and doing. To paraphrase Stella Adler in a different book: "You must never appear to be acting". So if we say that good acting is acting that appears to be real and genuine living and doing, than a book that promotes Stanford Meisner''s famous statement that "acting is living truthfully under imaginary circumstances", or Esper''s version that clarifies "living" as "doing", and transports you into the midst of a group of artists seeking to learn how to do it must be a pretty good place to start when seeking out improvement or a strong foundation. I have taken a short (i.e. less than one year) Meisner based acting class before, and left feeling as if I had experienced only minimal success, learned only a little bit, struggled...and perhaps not in a good way, and ultimately felt confused. I wondered if maybe the Meisner technique, although wonderful for many people, was perhaps just not for me. Then I read THE ACTOR''S ART AND CRAFT and I saw everything differently. William Esper''s fictional acting class is so CLEAR and inspiring! Reading this book helped me understand everything about the Meisner technique that had seemed so ambiguous and down right illogical before! I want to state very clearly that this book "pinched" me (to use a Meisner term) in and of itself and has inspired me to try and get back into Meisner training again. This is one of the best books of the craft of acting I have ever read. If you want to act the way I have described at the beginning of this review then hear this: This is precisely the hope provided by the Meisner technique and I suggest that there may be no one better than William Esper to learn it from. The book is very well written and engaging. The content is truly first rate. Five stars!!! Highly recommended to actor, directors, or anyone wanting insight into the acting training process!
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Konstantin
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Audiobook and this physical copy
Reviewed in the United States on September 26, 2021
So I bought the audiobook first from Audible because I wanted to learn more about bill esper and his technique as I studied a different technique at a different conservatory. Well within 2 min of *listening* to the book I was frantically trying to transcribe the... See more
So I bought the audiobook first from Audible because I wanted to learn more about bill esper and his technique as I studied a different technique at a different conservatory.
Well within 2 min of *listening* to the book I was frantically trying to transcribe the nuggets of wisdom that was being spewed out. I realized there was no way I was going to be able to keep up alas- I bought this book. Needless to say it''s already highland and marked up.
Really happy I was able to buy the book in conjunction.
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jaydub
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Engrossing, inspiring, full of humanity
Reviewed in the United States on September 9, 2009
This book came around at a strange time in my life...which I suppose is still happening. Although I was never part of the BFA or MFA program at Rutgers, I did take a few acting classes there as well as get involved in some college theatre. Bill Esper was an icon even back... See more
This book came around at a strange time in my life...which I suppose is still happening. Although I was never part of the BFA or MFA program at Rutgers, I did take a few acting classes there as well as get involved in some college theatre. Bill Esper was an icon even back then but I completely took for granted what it is he did and more importantly, who he is. Since getting out and pounding the pavement for some real work, I''ve had moments of brilliance, some of which has garnered me a handful of (minor) speaking roles on notable television shows. Gradually, I began to regress in my preparation and in my respect for the craft because in my mind, I didn''t see it as a necessity anymore. After all, who needs an applicable technique when you''ve booked work on Law & Order, Fringe, etc.? I became increasingly arrogant and felt entitled to success, all because I''ve had a little taste of it, probably from luck or what have you. In the past two years or so, I''ve been making big investments on casting director/agent workshops, all designed to get you seen, as long as you''re willing to pay the price. One night, not too long ago, we had to watch our playback auditions at one of these "classes". I was certain I had nailed it because I "felt good" about what I did. I was in for a rude awakening when I saw my work. I was stiff, lacking life...natural perhaps but uninteresting. In the past, I would always respond by preparing harder the next time and I would continue to take more acting seminars. This time, for whatever reason, I was willing to admit to myself that whatever technique I had was unfocused. That I was easily assuaged by complimentary notes by casting directors and peers so that I can move on with my life. I believe it was a good friend of mine who recommended me this book. And now I realize how naive and foolish I''ve been these past couple of years.

The Actor''s Art and Craft taught me that while commercial success should be commended, it''s not worth sacrificing your very being for it. After a while, from audition to audition, you start to make choices that you THINK people want to see, regardless of how inorganic. But like all forms of art, one must be dedicated in his/her pursuits and strive for the perfection of the craft. I''ve read a handful of other acting books, but none as engrossing as this one. It covers the first year of Meisner and that includes repetition work, activities, criminal action problems, having an objective. The format is such that you feel that you are in the classroom with Bill and the company he teaches. There are characters you can easily identify with because you probably know them in real life. Some of the students are new to the craft, others have been pursuing the arts for a while. For me, though, the highlights of this book are the beautifully simple yet poetic words from William Esper himself, his notes to the class, his views on how important it is to LIVE. Really LIVE. It surprised me that at times I was brought to tears by some of the quotations because they were really moving and cathartic. One in particular had to do with how disconnected our modern society can be, what with all the iPods, gadgets, social networking sites etc. Nobody lives in the moment anymore.

Esper and DiMarco have put together a wonderful book that attacks the myths of what the Meisner technique can do for someone. It''s not about emoting, it''s about doing as well as being. You can''t control how you feel, however you can allow yourself to be AFFECTED by what is going on around you. He talks about the importance of the precipitating circumstance: the one event that causes the two (or more) people on stage to come together in this time, in this place. Of course, before all of that, he teaches the importance of being yourself, to unlearn what society has taught you, to empty the garbage so to speak. Only then can you truly be free to follow your instincts. There is so much more I''d like to talk about in detail as far as specific exercises but I suggest you read it yourself if you''re serious about learning the craft, or even reinvigorating your passion for it. When you''re out in the real world, you''ll hear people throw around the word "Meisner" and "objective" as if they really understand what it all entails. Many of them probably do and that is commendable. But there is a large majority who don''t REALLY get it. I was one of them. I hope to continue my studies now that I''ve been humbled, and I hope to acquire practical skills and technique that''s based on higher principles.

If you''re as jaded as I was, you may be rolling your eyes at this gushfest. But I know what I want from all this: when I''m on stage or in front of a camera, I want to feel truly alive. When I''m NOT on stage or in front of the camera, I want to realize how remarkable it is to BE alive. This book is my first step towards my own salvation and my admission of cynicism and laziness. I hope to study with him one day.

--------

Update: It is February 20th, 2011. I''m currently in my 2nd year at the Esper Studio. Although I haven''t had Bill as a teacher, I''ve had the pleasure of being taught by other inspirational instructors there. I''m grateful for all that this training has given me, especially with respect to my life. I believe one of the biggest things I''ve learned is "don''t be afraid to ACT"! My current teacher David says that a lot. You see, while I was auditioning for on-camera projects, I became convinced that the only thing required to impress a casting director was to "be natural", to be capable of "conversational reality". It is only recently that I realized that it''s not enough to say the lines as if you''d "say them in real life" if there is no life or behavior behind it. That''s the path to generality. Many actors are afraid to act and commit to their actions fully for fear of over-acting or being untruthful. Much of this perception, at least from where I stand, probably comes from this modern indie faux-indie film culture. I''ve seen many of those kinds of films: critics rave about the movie where the actors don''t really do much but just throw away their lines, while most of the stylistic touches are provided by the director and editors. Looking back, that was what held me back the most when I was auditioning. I never fully got behind the circumstances or even bothered to understand the specifics of the moment before and what everything meant to me in the scene (which can only come alive from your body, not your mind).
36 people found this helpful
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Christopher
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
What an amazing book! Other books about Meisner Technique is too ...
Reviewed in the United States on May 8, 2018
What an amazing book! Other books about Meisner Technique is too much focused on how to do the repetition exercise. But, this book is different. Like Stanislavski''s "An Actor Prepares," he becomes a teacher and explains what is acting, why we should do this... See more
What an amazing book! Other books about Meisner Technique is too much focused on how to do the repetition exercise. But, this book is different. Like Stanislavski''s "An Actor Prepares," he becomes a teacher and explains what is acting, why we should do this technique and how to approach it in detail. It''s so readable. And, I am so relieved that the one who is most famous for Meisner Technique is very good at writing!
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Charlie White
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great life tips for a non-actor
Reviewed in the United States on January 19, 2013
I am not an actor. I bought this book to try to get a better handle on recognizing the emotions I felt at any given time. I tremendously enjoyed reading the book, as it was a great success in helping me do this. The book is written in an informal observational... See more
I am not an actor.

I bought this book to try to get a better handle on recognizing the emotions I felt at any given time. I tremendously enjoyed reading the book, as it was a great success in helping me do this. The book is written in an informal observational tone, which makes it both fun and easy to read. There''s a few awkward turns of phrase, and some places that smack of a degree of arrogance--but by and large, I found myself drawn to the characters described, and wanting to take an acting class.

I enjoyed reading this on the Kindle; the electronic copy is well-formatted.
4 people found this helpful
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Just a Putz in WI
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Good insight into the "Meisner" approach
Reviewed in the United States on August 29, 2009
I''m deeply interested in HONEST acting (with affectation, pushing and demonstrating) and this book gets you off and running. I think these are great techniques to use with actors, and can quickly separate the wheat from the chaff, and get to the heart of open, honest... See more
I''m deeply interested in HONEST acting (with affectation, pushing and demonstrating) and this book gets you off and running. I think these are great techniques to use with actors, and can quickly separate the wheat from the chaff, and get to the heart of open, honest acting, BUT they are deceptively simple exercies, and you need to know what you are looking for when things go awry, and how to address them. This books goes much further in revealing the goals behind the exercises than does Sandy''s book. I think it is truly enlightening.

That being said, my frustrations are this: 1.), Bill and Damon stop after the first year of (arguably) foundation work. In short, they stop before getting into the "next level stuff." I honestly hope they put together year 2 of this training technique and not keep all the "in depth" goodies to themselves. 2.) My fear is that this approach discourages shaping a character that is an honest revelation of what is in the text. Not all instincts are ARTFUL instincts (another beef I have with Bill about encouraging actors to "let go" in real life - human nature is, by instinct, SELFISH), and not every actor inclination is going to be true to the text. Hopefully, an actor who is worth their salt will marry this approach with serving the text and a playwright worth their salt will have crafted a script that reveals vibrant characters, but as an ART form, I don''t want to trust a performance to the whims of an actor who may, in any given moment, be struck with something funny their partner has done and runs with it. It may be engaging, but it won''t necessarily be true to the play. That is my fear and question to Bill - how do you keep actors from running afoul of a simpler instinct? Perhaps your book on year 2 is the answer I await.
7 people found this helpful
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Tracey Stevenson
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great information and great read!
Reviewed in the United States on May 29, 2020
I really liked the information and how it was presented. Easy to understand with great examples for acting knowledge. Thank you!
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Rob
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
This is one of the best books of acting that I have read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 12, 2016
This is one of the best books of acting that I have read. It''s written over a year in a Meisner class. You get to know all the techniques and you get to see the students using the techniques in scenes. It''s as close to being in a class as you can get without actually being...See more
This is one of the best books of acting that I have read. It''s written over a year in a Meisner class. You get to know all the techniques and you get to see the students using the techniques in scenes. It''s as close to being in a class as you can get without actually being in a class. Whether you are a total beginner or an experienced actor, I''m sure this book will teach you something. I''ll end this review with my favourite quote from the book. "If you choose this path, the world may not always understand you. but rest assured that, through your work, you will understand it."
3 people found this helpful
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Spanna C
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
I LOVE this book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 28, 2013
I''ve always been interested in the Meisner technique and with a Stanislavsky training behind me I wanted to understand a bit more about Meisner work before going on a course. I couldn''t put this down, and at times found myself laughing out loud on the tube. It is not only a...See more
I''ve always been interested in the Meisner technique and with a Stanislavsky training behind me I wanted to understand a bit more about Meisner work before going on a course. I couldn''t put this down, and at times found myself laughing out loud on the tube. It is not only a brilliant ''text book'', outlining the methodology and its rationale, but it is also utterly compulsive reading: beautifully written and totally accessible even for a non-actor. The stories, scene and character descriptions are superb and completely bring the method to life. I am now booked on a 5 day intensive Meisner course and I feel that I understand what it is about, which I didn''t, and I feel prepared to venture into this territory. I can''t wait to have a go, but having a basic level of understanding first will certainly be invaluable. Another acting bible.
5 people found this helpful
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Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Very helpful
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 1, 2020
So many acting classes and teachers will teach you the exact same thing but in different ways. This book really gets to the core essence of acting in a beautiful but easy to understand way. I''ve also had some teachers who haven''t taught meisner in the way it''s initially...See more
So many acting classes and teachers will teach you the exact same thing but in different ways. This book really gets to the core essence of acting in a beautiful but easy to understand way. I''ve also had some teachers who haven''t taught meisner in the way it''s initially intended, Bill Esper does a great job in providing clarity to the Meisner technique and showing just how useful it can be to emotionally prepare an actor. This book has changed my entire perspective on the craft and I''ve really learned a lot!
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H M Roberts
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A seminal work by a master of his craft for all actors & acting students
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 5, 2018
A detailed exposition of the work and craft of Sandord Meisner - this expands on Stanislavsky''s ''method'' and encourages actors to be truthful in an artificial setting. A must read for all actors and acting students - it is the starting point of Meisner''s technique ... there...See more
A detailed exposition of the work and craft of Sandord Meisner - this expands on Stanislavsky''s ''method'' and encourages actors to be truthful in an artificial setting. A must read for all actors and acting students - it is the starting point of Meisner''s technique ... there are other books that follow that explain how his actors develop.
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A Concerned Citizen
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great Read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 14, 2018
I''ve been reading a lot from the various greats in the acting world. Out of them all, this book just seems to click with me the most. Stanislavsky, Uta Hagen, Lee Strasbourg, etc. are undoubtedly good, I think it just depends on the individual as to whether or not you can...See more
I''ve been reading a lot from the various greats in the acting world. Out of them all, this book just seems to click with me the most. Stanislavsky, Uta Hagen, Lee Strasbourg, etc. are undoubtedly good, I think it just depends on the individual as to whether or not you can connect with what they are saying. You''d probably do well to read a bit of them all and just go with your gut.
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