The Books On Acting You Need On Your Shelf

There are books upon books on acting out there to be digested by actors and creatives. So much so, which ones are worth reading that will provide the best techniques, exercises and all the rest of it?

Your chosen reading list is ultra-important. It is a bundle of priceless experiences and tools shared by some of the most gifted practitioners in the world. Getting into a book that resonates with your style can help you master your creativity and spark new ideas to try out.

Drama school or no drama school, build up your favourite practitioners and soak up the knowledge like a squidgy little sponge to take into the industry with you.

There are too many great books to list in one article, so I have compiled a select few books on acting I’d like to recommend.

Happy Reading!

“An Actor Prepares” – Konstantin Stanislavksi

First on the list because this was the first book I read when starting out. Stanislavksi created his own system for the actor, developed over time. We now know this system as ‘method acting’. It includes personal accounts of experiences which adds humour to the book, breaking up the ‘I must be a serious actor now I’m reading books on acting’ vibe. The book is filled to the brim with techniques to get you into character, accompanied by relaxation work and concentration.  The ‘magic if’ is paramount to the Stanislavksi system, simply putting yourself in the shoes of the character and asking, how would I react if this happened to me? It’s a fun, brilliant and very insightful read, especially for your first book.

‘’Love the art in yourself and not yourself in the art.’’ – Konstantin Stanislavski

“Actions: The Actor’s Thesaurus” by Marina Calderone

As actors, we ALWAYS have an objective, something we want. This is what creates conflict. To get our desired outcome, we must understand what we are doing on each line within the script.

Actioning.

This will prevent you making general choices and help you to create something fresh with an interesting action. This book is filled with thousands of action words to use when you are working on your script. It’s also really great for improving your vocabulary!

“Meisner on Acting” by Sanford Meisner

I was lucky enough to tap into the Meisner Method at drama school. This book follows one of his acting classes for fifteen months and in that time, he spurs his students onward in a constantly positive direction, whilst they undertake exercises on provoking emotions, laughter and technical mastery. It’s all about living truthfully in imaginary circumstances. Out of all the books on acting, this is a must for your shelf.

“Act before you think – your instincts are more honest than your thoughts.” – Sanford Meisner

“The Art of Acting” by Stella Adler

One of the few to actually work with Stanislavksi the man himself, she is one of the most important teachers of acting. This book is basically a whole course on acting which has been compiled by Howard Kissel. He has taken tapes, note books, transcripts and several other sources of Adler’s work, to rebuild this course over a series of twenty two lessons. One of the best books on acting by a country mile.

‘’ Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one’’ – Stella Adler

“Everything you always wanted to know about acting but were afraid to ask, dear” by West End Producer

If you are talking books on acting, this absolutely is on the list. Techniques, exercises and serious actorness aside for a moment, this book is a brilliantly enjoyable read giving you laugh out loud insights into the world of theatre. WEP touches on everything you need to know about getting into drama school, auditioning, coping with boredom, rehearsal techniques just to name a few. Have a laugh with this one and don’t forget that it doesn’t have to be serious all the time.

There you have it! Some of the best-read books on acting out there, that any actor needs to read. Have fun, learn and enjoy the journey.

Learn more about acting here.

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