TACKLING TEXT [AND SUBTEXT]; A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE FOR ACTORS.
Pub: Nick Hern Books.
Review: Ian Spiby, 24 September 2008.
(A link to Amazon to the book is below.)
An eminently practical manual on the art of acting.
This must count as the best book I have read on acting in recent years, mainly because it is absolutely do-able. Like many writers of similar books, Barbara Houseman is an experienced practitioner with a distinguished record of work in the profession but what, for me, marks her out as different, is that she divides her programme into easily- assimilated bite-sized exercises. Reading them, I felt that I was in the acting studio with her and that she was quite nearby, advising and encouraging.
After some general (practical) advice on preparation the book starts with a chapter on Handling Modern Text. She takes two speeches from two plays (one for female and one for male actors) and uses them to illustrate the exercises. Readers are encouraged to try them out for themselves. Using a similar approach, the next chapter, Handling Classical Text, tackles such daunting topics as rhythm and metre, simile and metaphor, but bit by bit, exercise by exercise, so that in the end you don’t find them daunting at all.
The second half of the book continues in a similar vein with creating a character. She bases her work on such reputable theorists and practitioners as Stanislavsky and Uta Hagen but yet again, she divides her explanations into understandable, easy-to-try exercises. The final section contains practical advice on such things as handling auditions and troubleshooting.
Tackling the Text will be an invaluable tool for all students of acting, enabling them to try out methods which might otherwise seem too arduous and beyond their reach. Reading her approach to this elusive subject, it is clear that Ms Houseman is a wise and inspirational teacher with that rare gift of communicating her ideas so that they seem really quite simple.
And here’s the Amazon link: