As actors, our training is never “done”. Like any other skill, acting takes a lot of training, practice and a serious dedication to continue honing your craft. Whether it’s working on a project, taking classes with ASC or doing research, we should always stay on the path of learning. We at ASC suggest picking up a good book on the subject and learning something new. Here are our suggestions for 10 books all actors should read. Pick them up, pass them on, and read a perspective that you may not already know. After all, that’s what the craft of acting is actually about!
11. The Actors Life: A Survival Guide by Jenna Fischer
With amusing candor and wit, Fischer spells out the nuts and bolts of getting established in the profession, based on her own memorable and hilarious experiences. She tells you how to get the right headshot, what to look for in representation, and the importance of joining forces with other like-minded artists and creating your own work—invaluable advice personally acquired from her many years of struggle. She provides helpful hints on how to be gutsy and take risks, the tricks to good auditioning and callbacks, and how not to fall for certain scams (auditions in a guy’s apartment are probably not legit—or at least not for the kind of part you’re looking for!).
10. On The Technique of Acting by Michael Chekhov
In the four decades since its first publication, Michael Chekhov’s To the Actor has become a standard text for students of the theater. But To the Actor is a shortened, heavily modified version of the great director/actor/teacher’s original manuscript, and On the Technique of Acting is the first and only book ever to incorporate the complete text of that brilliant manuscript. Scholars and teachers of Chekhov’s technique have hailed On the Technique of Acting as the clearest, most accurate presentation of the principles he taught.
9. A Practical Handbook For the Actor by Bruder and others
A Practical Handbook for the Actor is written for any actor who has ever experienced the frustrations of acting classes that lacked clarity and objectivity, and that failed to provide a dependable set of tools. An actor’s job, the authors state, is to “find a way to live truthfully under the imaginary circumstances of the play.” The ways in which an actor can attain that truth form the substance of this eloquent book.
8. The Intent To Live: Achieving Your True Potential As An Actor by Larry Moss
From the foundations of script analysis to the nuances of physicalization and sensory work, here are the case studies, exercises, and insights that enable you to connect personally with a script, develop your character from the inside out, overcome fear and inhibition, and master the technical skills required for success in the theater, television, and movies.
7. The Actor And The Target by Declan Donnellan
One of the most immensely popular and ever-practical books on acting takes a scalpel to the heart of actors’ persistent fears, helping them to release their talent on stage. It is straightforward and unpretentious, with a spirit of artistic and personal freedom.
6. The Art Of Acting by Stella Adler
Stella Adler was one of the 20th Century’s greatest figures. She is arguably the most important teacher of acting in American history. Over her long career, both in New York and Hollywood, she offered her vast acting knowledge to generations of actors, including Marlon Brando, Warren Beatty, and Robert De Niro. The great voice finally ended in the early Nineties, but her decades of experience and teaching have been brilliantly caught and encapsulated by Howard Kissel in the twenty-two lessons in this book.
5. Freeing The Natural Voice by Kristen Linklater
Describes the mechanics of the voice and obstacles of spontaneous, effective vocal expression and details exercises for developing and strengthening the voice as a human and actor’s instrument.
4. Actions: The Actors Thesaurus by Calderone and Loyd-Williams
An essential companion for actors in rehearsal – a thesaurus of action words to revitalize performance.
3. Acting As A Business by Brian O’Neil
Since its original publication, Acting as a Business has earned a reputation as one of the most indispensable books for working and aspiring actors. Avoiding the usual advice about persistence and luck, Brian O’Neil provides clear-cut guidelines that will give actors a solid knowledge of the business behind their art. It’s packed with practical information—on everything from what to say in a cover letter to where to stand when performing in an agent’s office
2. Acting in Chicago by Chris Agos
Written by established Chicago actor and teacher Chris Agos, Acting In Chicago demystifies the question of how to earn a full time living as an actor. Used in university acting programs and recommended by agents and acting coaches, it has become the actor’s definitive guide to starting and growing a career in the Midwest’s booming entertainment business. Learn about the seven ways Chicago actors make money actually acting, how much career actors can earn, agents, casting directors, essential investments to make (and which to skip), the actors’ union and much, much more. This edition adds new information on self-taped auditions, how Chicago actors can prepare for a move to Los Angeles, and how to get a child actor into the business.
1. Audition by Michael Shurtleff
Our Personal Favorite of our suggested books! Michael Shurtleff’s legendary course on auditioning has launched hundreds of successful careers. Now in this book he tells the all-important how for all aspiring actors, from the beginning student of acting to the proven talent trying out for that chance-in-a-million role!
Also, check out these books written by some of ASC’s awesome instructors! You can find them all on Amazon!