Bookshelf Tour #3

Some of the most well-worn books in my library.

Real Life Drama: The Group Theatre and America 1931-1940 is Wendy Smith’s exhaustive history of The Group Theater. I consider it essential reading. It’s an important part of the history of the 20th century. Post about it here.

Harold Clurman’s memoir The Fervent Years: The Group Theatre And The Thirties details his own memory of that time. Gorgeous.

Michael Caine’s Acting in Film: An Actor’s Take on Movie Making is an outright classic.

Stella Adler (another Group alum) gave a series of lectures – on Ibsen, Strindberg and Chekhov. Stella Adler on Ibsen, Strindberg, and Chekhov is a treasure: you get a sense of what it must have been like to be in that room. If you want to learn about script analysis, this is a hell of a place to start. Robert De Niro studied with her and has said that her script analysis class is one of the most important classes he ever took.

Jack Garfein’s recently published memoir/acting book Life and Acting: Techniques for the Actor is another volume rich with wisdom on actors. Garfein was a member of the Actors Studio, and the first director to be asked to join (he was asked by Lee Strasberg). (You can read more about Garfein in the essay I wrote for the Criterion release of his 1961 film Something Wild. Which you all should see.) As a teacher for decades, Garfein knows what he’s talking about. The book is filled with wonderfully thought-provoking unique acting exercises. Earlier this year, I attended a Master Class he gave at the Actors Studio. A night I’ll never forget. The freedom he creates in a very stressful room … extraordinary! His “take” on acting is very intuitive, un-academic, with a healthy respect for old-fashioned Playing Make-Believe.

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