AN ATTITUDE FOR ACTING (How to Survive and Thrive as an Actor)
Andrew Tidmarsh: Dr Tara Swart
Nick Hern Books
First published 2011: RRP 12.99

Review: Rod Dungate, 16 September 2011

There’s not an actor who wouldn’t find this useful.
This is an intelligent, useful and easy to reference book that sets out to help young (and not so young) actors handle the times when the going gets really tough.

When things are going well, they go well; when things are going badly, they go badly. This may sound tautological but any actor will know this feeling. When you’re in work you feel great – up for meeting people and taking on new challenges. But when things aren’t going so well, when auditions and work seem to have dried up you feel down – you don’t want to meet people and negative feelings creep in. At the very time you need support and a bit of TLC, you cut yourself off.

What Swart (coach, psychologist and neuroscientist) and Tidmarsh (director and acting tutor) set out to do, is to enable actors to overcome debilitating negativity and to think and act positively. This is as likely to work for middle career actors as for young actors starting out. Useful case studies thread their way through the book, as well as anecdotes of actors’ attitudes from Tidmarsh’s professional life.

For the most part the writers avoid being unduly prescriptive; for instance for one actor taking catering work the minute one job finishes is the right thing to do, while for another, not taking other work but remaining focused on being an actor is correct. What is common for both actors is that they must continue to see themselves as actors – and the writers have exercises to help.

When the writers identify attitudes or emotions that should be avoided or cultivated (there are many – this is what the book is about) helpful exercises are always attached to help personal development. For my mind there are rather too many lists to write; but then any actor can choose which to do, so the number of writable lists offers great choice. (How about that for positive thinking?)

There’s a terrific section on Anxiety showing positive and valuable aspects we can use. This is followed by an equally good section explaining the negative aspects when anxiety turns into stress. There’s a particularly good section, too, on NeuroSynthesis encouraging us to explore our strengths and weaknesses in using our brain power, and how to develop it.

Tidmarsh and Swart have crammed this book full of sage advice, well explained. We may even surmise from reading this book that the act of reading it has advantages greater than the information it contains. Now that can’t be bad.

Here’s a neat quote from the end of the book, which just about sums the whole thing up:

‘We could finish by wishing you luck. But as you know by now we think that we all make our own luck. So, instead, we will finish by wishing you positive and healthy action. May it lead to good fortune because – as we all know – fortune favours the brave.’

Here’s a link to Amazon:

2011-09-17 17:44:29

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