ADVICE FROM THE PLAYERS: Laura Barnett
Pub: NHB, September 2014
ISBN: 9 781848 423589
Review: Alexander Ray Edser, 04 12 14
What a gorgeous little book.
Laura Barnett’s collection of pearls from a host of actors is the magic mix of delight and wisdom. Here is a host of nuggets about rehearsal and performance in bite-size chunks that offer serious guidance to young actors from extremely experienced ones many, even most, household names.
The bites are neatly bundled into packages covering all phases of rehearsal and performance. Some are issues you might expect – like taking criticism. But some are not so expected but still vital; these include the tricky business of whether to learn lines before rehearsals start, and how to handle a long run. My own favourite covers rehearsal behaviour. The often repeated advice here is, variously, ‘watch and learn’.
But whichever topic you choose (there are more than 30) the advice is sound – and to be ignored at your peril.
The other thing that makes this handy book so rich is the range and quality of the people Barnett has enticed to share their experiences. Julie Walters and Antony Sher rub shoulders with Mark Umbers and Tracie Bennett. Harriet Walter, Oliver Ford Davis and Jenna Russell sit side by side with many others. Then, too, there are Lennie Henry (‘Don’t be afraid to ask for help’ he puts forward) and Jo Brand. These people, to a man and a woman, bring unique perspectives to this questions posed.