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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the fog lifted from my eyes
The first in a series of three, an Actor Prepares deals with the inner process/preparation an actor must explore in order to prepare for a role, how to control and stimulate your mind in order to convey the truth of your character. The story is told through the eyes of Kostya, the ex-stenographer who know shorthand, thus enabling him to take notes of the class. The...
Published on August 24, 2002 by C.S. Solano

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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Incomplete, Innacurate Translation
Stanislavski is a familiar name in theatre circles. The legendary director of the Moscow Art Theatre wrote perhaps some of the most influential books on acting in the last century. I could list the big names who cite his influence (most famously, Marlon Brando and Sir John Gielgud), but the fact is his teachings have become so much a part of the way we approach theatre,...
Published on October 1, 2008 by Enamorato


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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the fog lifted from my eyes, August 24, 2002
By 
This review is from: An Actor Prepares (Paperback)
The first in a series of three, an Actor Prepares deals with the inner process/preparation an actor must explore in order to prepare for a role, how to control and stimulate your mind in order to convey the truth of your character. The story is told through the eyes of Kostya, the ex-stenographer who know shorthand, thus enabling him to take notes of the class. The instructor, Tortsov, is Stanislavski in disguise.
The book takes you on a journey of the art - acting. From learning about the magic "IF" to learning how to find your super-objective there is something for all in this book. Everything interrelates forming a web of knowledge and tools that you can take with you forever.
When you read it, however, keep in mind what the author said about his books:
"It is not a hand-me-down suit that you can put on and walk off in; or a cook book where all you need to find is the page and there is your recipe. No, it is a whole way of life."
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Incomplete, Innacurate Translation, October 1, 2008
By 
Enamorato (Washington, DC United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: An Actor Prepares (Paperback)
Stanislavski is a familiar name in theatre circles. The legendary director of the Moscow Art Theatre wrote perhaps some of the most influential books on acting in the last century. I could list the big names who cite his influence (most famously, Marlon Brando and Sir John Gielgud), but the fact is his teachings have become so much a part of the way we approach theatre, that almost any actor in the English-speaking world (and abroad) can claim at least some influence.

Elizabeth Hapgood's translation of Stanislavski's work (featured on this page) remains the most widely circulated among English speakers. Unfortunately, it is also highly problematic. By publishing her translations as two separate books "An Actor Prepares" and "Building a Character", Hapgood unintentionally misrepresented Stanislavski's original intentions. In actuality, "An Actor Prepares" and "Building a Character" were both written as two parts of a single book, called "An Actor's Work on Himself."

Hapgood had worked with Stanislavski on an early version of Part One. However, Stanislavski continued to revise his manuscript even after Hapgood had returned home to America. What would eventually be published as "An Actor Prepares" was actually a much-abridged version of what she received from Stanislavski. Not only that, but it is missing Stanislavski's subsequent revisions.

The translation itself is especially difficult to get through. The diction is quaint and Victorian and brings to mind Constance Garrett's dowdy translations of Dostoevsky. What's more is that Stanislavski's sense of humor is largely censored, in favor of contriving a more flowing narrative. While this is understandable, this drastically alters the reader's understanding of Stanislavski's system. The original featured more dialogue among the students to flesh out the concepts in better detail.

To read a modern translation of Stanislavski's work in its complete form, check out Jean Benedetti's excellent An Actor's Work. Up until the publication of Benedetti's book, I would have been perfectly content to recommend the Hapgood version. But the release of the new translation, which is both more readable and truer to Stanislavski's intentions, now fully highlights how impoverished this edition actually is.
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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars POOR TRANSLATION OF A GREAT MAN, December 30, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: An Actor Prepares (Paperback)
It cannot be doubted that Stanislavki's Trilogy is a must for any aspiring actor. Stanislavki was the pioneer in creating a coherent system of practices and concepts to aid in strengthening the art of acting. I would, however, advise anyone who has not yet read the book to be cautious. It is important to understand that Hapgood's translation is sketchy in places, and tends to run around in cirlcles. As a supplement to this book, I would recommend reading Sonia Moore's The Stanislavski System. She worked directly with Stanislavski and understands his system much better than E. Hapgood. Not that the books vagueness is all her fault. It seems that Stanislavki goes to great lengths to explain things that are, nowadays, common sense. He certainly wasn't the first to ever think of these concepts; he was merely the first to organize them and give them names. Much of what is contained in this book is merely a modernized translation of Hamlet's "Speak the speech I pray you". The Magic If is simply a codefied means of make believe. That is fundamentally what it all boils down to. I relished the situation of the student and teacher realationship, and did find myself growing and evolving with him. It really makes you think of acting in a whole new perspective. But, as with any method, you must be cautious to use only what works for you. There is a common desire to make An Actor Prepares the bible of all actors. I won't argue that Stanislavski's system is the basis of almost all other methods that have risen in the last century, but there are other effective texts available. Respect of Acting and To the Actor, to name a couple. Don't just read Stanislavski; read several to help put it all in perspective. Acting books are so pompous, byenlarge, and you have to wade through a lot of self-hype and nonsense. That is one thing I really appreciated about his trilogy; they are without ego. Also, for anyone interested in a truly off the wall acting text, read The Inner Game of Tennis. It's literally found in the Sports section, but it's teachings are every bit as relevant to the art of acting as they are to sport psychology. Take my word for it. And the best thing about it is that you don't have to listen to any snooty actors talking about how great they are.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As a working actor, this book serves as my bible., August 13, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: An Actor Prepares (Paperback)
An Actor's Prepares is a teaching book that is written as a story. The theory is within the story. The "story" touches on things like relaxation, movement and concentration. You are one of the students, you learn the same method as the other students in the story. You will progress with them and in the end, you will have the sense on being "private in public". If you are an actor, or thinking of pursuing a career as an actor, this is a MUST READ! I still use this bokk as a guide to get me back on track when I feel that I am slipping in my craft. I love this book because of the way Stanislavski is preserved here. His teaching style shines through. This is the first book in a trilogy of the Stanislavski "Method" My advise for reading this book. Read it slow and digest every individual thought as if it were your last meal. You will learn not only about improving your ability to act, but also come away with a better feeling of who you are as a person, not just as an actor!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute must for actors!, February 5, 2002
This review is from: An Actor Prepares (Paperback)
This book covers everything you could ever want to know about acting. If you want to be an actor or actress then all you have to do is read this book, and you're there. This book covers every possible technique you will ever need on the stage! Stanislavski takes on the role as a teacher for his students in this book, but the fact is that he is both the actors and the teacher. He uses the students to ask the questions you are wondering about, and answers them as the teacher. His discriptions are so good that you sometimes wonder if you are really there. The only thing that makes you sure is that he can't give you feedback on your efforts at home. But apart from that it is just like having a very knowledgable teacher of your own, that can answer all the questions you have about acting, and then some. It is an awesome book. A must have for everyone!
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stanislavski's Blueprint Pulses With Life and Passion, February 28, 2002
This review is from: An Actor Prepares (Paperback)
I found "An Actor Prepares" to be a deeply rewarding read, and I found its message applicable to all of the arts. Opening a window to a time and place where great strides were made in the modern theater, we join a fictionalized group of students awaiting their first lesson with the great master "Tortsov" (really Stanislavski.) I simply drank in Constantin Stanislavski's wisdom, enjoyed his consummate readability, and shivered in amazement that he was able to advance the philosophy and praxis of acting to such heights at the time that he wrote - he lived from 1863 to 1938. I'm currently inhaling the second volume in this series: "Building A Character." I fully intend round out my reading with some Strasberg, Meisner etc. after I finish Stanislavski's trilogy, but at this moment I am quite content to be able to gaze back in time to the Moscow Art Company, and imagine that I'm there amid the heady acting sessions of these books. Although trailblazers and pioneers in any art or science rarely leave a perfectly polished jewel as their legacy, it is a great mistake to pass over their immense contributions. Read Stanislavski as the great building block he was in the technique of acting.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely essential read, October 12, 2005
This review is from: An Actor Prepares (Paperback)
This book is an absolute MUST READ for all actors. I am convinced that no-one should be allowed on stage until they have read this book.

Stanislavski's ideas form the basis of most modern acting techniques, as well they should. Before I studied Stanislavski, I had always felt there was something lacking in my acting and could never quite figure out what; I discovered it when I studied Stanislavski.

My one complaint is that the translation is bad. The translator was NOT an actor, and many cuts were made to the original text. This has resulted in many confusions about what Stanislavski actually said.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Actor Prepares to teach us well., November 25, 2004
This review is from: An Actor Prepares (Paperback)
An Actor Prepares by Constantine Stanislavski is a great read. This reading in my opinion is the "bible" for all begining actor/actress who wants to learn and understand acting. The book shows the reader the "Stanislavski codes" without the 'how to do' or essay form. The book is more like a journal, filled with stories that teach us, and methods that help us. The book expresses issues such as overacting and mechanical to the heart and real-ness we must put into our characters, to become them, to live them in order to believe them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The greates acting book ever, December 2, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: An Actor Prepares (Paperback)
I hated reading acting books, because most of them teach us how to conform to other actors. But I read this one at the recommendation of a verrry smart friend, and I learned so much more from it about characterization than I could have without it. A great book.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent not only for actors but for any performing artist!, December 3, 2004
This review is from: An Actor Prepares (Paperback)
Stanislavski himself says, "My system is for those who have a creative nature. It's for the talented". On stage or on a movie set you have to be believable. All musicians should read this book (or any performing artist in that matter). It would be a priceless benefit for them... For instance, many soloists these days are displaying an unnatural, forced "phrasing". If they were asked to speak the way they play, the result would be so fake or even funny that they'd realize it in a flash.
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An Actor Prepares
An Actor Prepares by Elizabeth Reynolds Hapgood (Paperback - April 30, 1989)
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