DIFFERENT EVERY NIGHT: FREEING THE ACTOR: Mike Alfreds.
Pub: Nick Hern Books.
Review: Ian Spiby, 9 January 2008.
(A link to Amazon to the book is below).
A friendly and accessible guide to acting and directing
Mike Alfreds has over forty years experience of directing plays and creating theatre, and he brings this experience to a book full of wisdom about theatre and acting. For example, he provides the most convincing argument I have ever read for theatre over film and television. Based at its most fundamental level on Stanislavsky and others, he has developed his own style of directing which he explains at some length in the first half of the book, skilfully repeating and recapitulating the main arguments over and over again so that the reader is in no danger of losing the thread.
His main point is that the words any character speaks can be broken up into actions and if an actor can get those right, everything else, such as motivation and emotion, will follow. Using the plays of (Anton) Chekhov, he provides lengthy and detailed examples so that by the end readers will be able to do it for themselves.
He devotes the second half to advice on how to direct a play according to these methods and it is here that we reap the benefit of his enormous practical experience as a man of the theatre.
I have only two reservations: the first is that fine though his ideas are, for most directors in this country at least, they must remain a pipedream because he states quite baldly that his methods can only be put into practice over a long rehearsal period – one month is simply not enough. Secondly, he seems to take no account of post-modern theatre. Would his ideas work with some of Sarah Kane’s characters for example? He might claim they would but I find it difficult to see how.
That aside however, I found it an immensely useful and inspiring book.
Here’s the Amazon Link: