- Paperback: 127 pages
- Publisher: Vintage; First Edition edition (February 22, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0679772642
- ISBN-13: 978-0679772644
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.3 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #239,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor Paperback – February 22, 1999
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To hell with Stanislavsky. To hell with the Method. "The actor is onstage to communicate the play to the audience," says David Mamet. "That is the beginning and the end of his and her job. To do so the actor needs a strong voice, superb diction, a supple, well-proportioned body and a rudimentary understanding of the play." Anything else--"becoming" one's part, "feeling" the character's emotions--devalues the practice of a noble craft and is useless to the play. "The 'work' you do 'on the script' will make no difference," he cautions. "That work has already been done by a person with a different job title than yours. That person is the author."
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
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Mamet (e.g., Glengarry Glen Ross), considered a foremost contemporary American dramatist by most critics, here offers a bold new approach to acting. Mamet draws on his decades of observing good (and bad) acting to present a slim but intriguing volume of musings. Disdainful of studios, acting schools, and graduate school, he declares, "The classroom will teach you how to obey, and obedience in the theater will get you nowhere." Mamet exhorts actors to show up early, have their lines down cold, and have a single objective for each scene. He contends that overthinking and too much emotional interpretation is not the actor's role. Essential reading for theater collections.?J. Sara Paulk, Coastal Plain Regional Lib., Tifton, Ga.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
But this book? Not my favorite. In fact, I kind of hate it. I got halfway through and almost gave up, but decided to skim the rest. Throughout the whole thing, Mamet uses pretentious language that you have to decipher. Just f***ing say it, David. He just comes off as trying too hard. You know those academic papers you read where the authors are trying super hard to appear intelligent to the point where it's almost incomprehensible? Well, Mamet does the same here.
Also, Mamet is not an actor or a respected acting coach, and it's very apparent. He's first and foremost a writer, so it's understandable that he thinks his work, the writing, can do all the heavy lifting when it comes to acting. But that's not always the case. Ask any seasoned professional and they'll tell you that yes, you must serve the story and the text, but you must also bring your own creativity to it. To just stand and deliver the words is often not enough. You must bring the life to the role, using whatever works for you.
I agree with him in that method acting can be taken to an extreme. I agree with him in that Stanislavsky and the system takes a more academic approach than necessary, and that acting studios can foster an almost cult-like atmosphere (just look at Strasberg vs Adler and their stupid little spat until the end of their lives. Same thing goes on in Meisner schools on which teachers actually studied with Sandy). And that at the end of the day, it's just doing the work and telling the story.
But I hate how he paints that the theatre is the only true place for artists. And I hate how he portrays LA actors as being consumed only with chasing commercial success.
Honestly, I really didn't get anything out of this book. It was a waste of my time. David, stick to writing, not instructing actors how to approach the work.
Actually I've been writing for decades in the bowels of a federal agency, anonymously. (Trust me, it was all NON-fiction.) I've had brilliant editors and duds. Even with anonymous federal prose the key to good writing is the audiences. Few documents have just one audience--look at what happens when a "private" email goes public. We must consider ALL the audiences, real or potential, present AND future, visible or not.
Now, writing as a fledgling dramatist, I find Mr. Mamet's thoughts useful. Here is someone who respects the audience AND the author. Take any dramatic work that endures through hundreds of live performances, or thousands. With a revolving door of actors that work is still going. Despite a parade of venues that show still goes on. An audience flows in and out. Just look at any Broadway road tour. There are only two common pieces--the author and the script.
While True & False may be directed to actors, a second audience must be authors. It's full of nuggets for authors.
For example, this to an actor: "You don't have to portray the hero or the villain. That's been done for you in the script."
That is, BY THE AUTHOR. Hmmm. Had I been a lazy author, leaving too many blanks, relying too heavily on skillful improvisation to fill in the blanks? There is a place for improvisation but the author's billing appears above the title of the show. Had I done my job? Earned that billing?
If you ever see one of my works you can decide for yourself (e.g. ROUND TUIT, Brooklyn Publishers). As for me, I'm sure: True & False already helped me be a better author--and of course the journey continues. Thank you, Mr. Mamet.
I hope one or two will find this review helpful.