Respect for Acting

As y’all may know by now, Friday is miscellaneous day. So today I am writing about one of my favorite topics: acting.

Acting can be a fun hobby but it is a tough job if you do it for a living, if you are a working actor fishing for parts or a newcomer who is barely scraping by. Personally, I love to act and I have great respect for everyone who does try to live by it. It is one of those creative professions that is often underestimated all the while it is the most popularly celebrated job in all of Hollywood.

Actors are predominantly associated with the projects they are working on although in essence they do not shape the film, play or program as much as is often insinuated in interviews and features. Without actors a script will not come to life however, no matter how good an idea the director has or how much money the producer provides. It is a very interesting job actually, exhausting at times, following orders yet breathing life into a character so it will be distinctively your own creation.

In my experience, every actor has a different approach, background and method to work with. And no matter how much training you get, every actor has to find what works for her (or him for that matter) best. So apart from never-ending practice, singing, dance or voice lessons, joy and the necessity of an undying craving to perform, careful observation and second hand experience may do wonders for your style.

“Eight Women of the American Stage – Talking about Acting” by Roy Harris (with a foreword by Emily Mann) and “Actors at Work” by Rosemarie Tischler and Barry Jay Kaplan (with a foreword by Mike Nichols) are two books I can recommend in this context, from the bottom of my heart. They give beautiful insight into the process of acquiring a part by a variety of great American talents such as Meryl Streep, Donna Murphy or Mary McDonnell.

Furthermore, I can highly recommend Uta Hagen’s “Respect for Acting” and “Challenge for the Actor”, two books that made a big difference for me and opened my inquisitive mind. Multidisciplinary shaped as I am, it was a great addition to the different methods I looked into in classes and on stage. Uta Hagen’s approach really pushed me forward and made me feel at home emotionally. It was the one method I finally connected with.

For everybody who prefers to see and hear more about her method, “Uta Hagen’s Acting Class” is also available on DVD. In my opinion, the DVD is a worthy investment and a helpful addition to her second book, “Challenge for the Actor”. “Theater of War” may be another adjuvant purchase. The documentary features Meryl Streep’s 2008 Central Park performance of Mother Courage and her journey of mastering that challenging character.

I really wish there was a book featuring my favorite classic actresses with interviews on their acquired wisdom in and expert approach to acting . Most of them got their training on the job and successfully so, and maybe that’s their legacy for anyone who wishes to follow in their footsteps – there’s no such thing as a studio system anymore, but individual classes are available everywhere and if you’re lucky the one or other extra or stage job in your area.

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