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True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor Paperback – February 22, 1999
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But True and False does not confine itself to the work done on the actual stage. Its brief essays contain sound advice on how an actor might apply himself or herself to the life of the actor: the proper consideration due the audition process, the selection of parts that one accepts, and so on. Mamet delivers these kernels of wisdom in the taut, no-nonsense prose for which he is justifiably famous, and, ultimately, his core principles are applicable beyond the theater. "Speak up, speak clearly, open yourself out, relax your body, find a simple objective," he instructs. "Practice in these goals is practice in respect for the audience, and without respect for the audience, there is no respect for the theater; there is only self-absorption." Substitute "others" for "the audience" and "life" for "the theater," and could any Taoist say it better? --Ron Hogan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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With those points in mind, much of what Mamet has to say about acting is very good advice indeed. It is no secret that the Stanislavski and Strasberg systems of acting often produce academic and/or inward looking performances. Mamet also finds nothing at all to praise in acting schools of any stripe or theory. And as readers familiar with Mamet's plays might expect, when Mamet wants to heap scorn upon an object, he is capable of doing so with cold and hilarious fury. His points about working truthfully in the moment (which he calls acting courageously) and focusing honestly on your partner or the other actors are surely solid. Similarly, his simple advice about how a scene should work and how an actor should understand the scene's objective are rock solid.
In the end, although Mamet skewers both acting schools and theories, he has really espoused a theory of stage performance, albeit one that takes as its guidepost a highly naturalistic and unadorned style.Read more ›
The fact that he calls the Stanislavski System the Stanislavski Method makes me suspect that he is actually thinking of Strasberg's Method, who is often accused of putting too much emphasis on the certain aspects of a System like internal embodiment of the role and many say misunderstood large parts of the Stanislavski system; after Stella Adler studied with Stanislavski and returned to the Group Theatre, she and several other teachers of the 'Method' broke with Strasberg on these issues (including Meisner, who Mamet later studied under, who very strongly disagrees with Strasberg's methods and teaching style and says so very frankly in his book "Sanford Meisner on Acting"). Many of the issues Mamet brings up are fairly common criticisms of Strasberg, especially by Meisner.
When he quits ranting against the Stanislavski System and what he thinks actors need to stop doing and gets down to what he thinks actors SHOULD do, many of his principals are (or, at least, should be) either painfully obvious (such as, our job as actors is to entertain the audience) or of little use to serious actors.Read more ›
I'd like to share one observation, out of the many that this book provoked in me: Mamet's own preference, it seems, is the flat, uninflected acting in most of his films. Compare, for instance, Lindsay Crouse's beautifully emotional work in Sidney Lumet's THE VERDICT with her strangely robotic work in Mamet's HOUSE OF GAMES. The disparity between the two performances--one directed by the Actors Studio-trained Lumet, the other directed by the virulently anti-method Mamet--points up a central, yet unacknowledged, truth: Mamet is advocating a particular style of acting. This style results from the action-oriented approach that he and his followers employ, but it is no more or less a style than that produced by the method techniques he decries. This may seem a minor point, but it is one that he would hotly deny, as he insists that he advocates a technique and not a style.
I should add that the book contains a number of incisive thoughts on ethics and professionalism. So valuable were these that I typed them up and put them on my wall. They kept me sane through a difficult summer with a professional theatre company. The book is worth its price for these alone.
I felt the need to share these lines with my friend. He instantly called Mamet a heretic. "How dare he ? Why are you reading this ?" Two months later, I gave him a copy as a gift. I urged him to read it. A week later, he thanked me from the bottom of his heart.
Why am I telling you this long story ? Because this book about smacking you in the face. You'll either appreciate it, or hate Mamet to death for it. But know that it's done with noble intentions.
Actors are taught some truly silly techniques and habits. As a result, we are robbing ourselves of the dignity of what we do. And while Mamet reminds us that this artform was saved by people who basically wanted to make a living at doing "not much", there IS a dignity to it.
I don't think he's seeking an overthrow of everything we hold dear. I think he's trying to teach us the absurdity of some of our actions by being absurd in his repsonses to it. "Stanislavski was a hack" is his call to action, not revolution.
Read this book. Enjoy it with a grain of salt. And claim the dignity to break the silly habits you've learned to take on. I have. And the five friends I've bought this book for haven't stopped thanking me for it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book was written for actors. Since I am not an actor, I'm really not qualified to speak to whether or not reading True and False would be helpful to a member of the intended... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Michael G.
This book is life changing. Seriously. I find myself thinking about it, when I'm called upon to just behave in real life. Read morePublished 4 months ago by N. Moore
Jay Mohr said this book was the best acting book ever written. I thought it was ok. I'm not an actor, but this book did make me laugh at all the ridiculous techniques actors use,... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Lou Storiale
This book is GREAT!! Not just for actors, but anyone who performs on stage in front of a REAL audience.
Great book, not only for professionals, for every movie lovers. DirectorPublished 10 months ago by Marek Brodzki