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The Actor's Art and Craft: William Esper Teaches the Meisner Technique (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 8. April 2008

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  • The Actor's Art and Craft: William Esper Teaches the Meisner Technique
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  • The Actor's Guide to Creating a Character: William Esper Teaches the Meisner Technique
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An introduction to the actor's craft presents a series of rigorous but flexible exercises, based on the Meisner Technique of acting, designed to help actors deal with a wide variety of performance challenges.

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

William Esper is a graduate of Western Reserve University and the Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theatre in New York City. Bill trained as both actor and teacher under Sanford Meisner. Bill and Sandy worked closely together for 17 years, during which time Bill served as Associate Director of the Playhouses's Acting Department (1973-1976). Bill founded the William Esper Studio in 1965 and the Professional Actor Training Program at Rutgers University's Mason Gross School of the Arts in 1977. These two schools are renowned for routinely contributing actors of the highest quality to the International stage and screen.


Damon DiMarco earned his M.F.A. from the Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts under Bill Esper's tutelage. He acts professionally on stage, screen, and TV, and teaches at Drew University. Damon's other books include, Tower Stories: an Oral History of 9/11; Heart of War: Soldiers' Voices from the Front Lines of Iraq; and My Two Chinas: The Memoir of a Chinese Counterrevolutionary with Baiqiao Tang, which features a foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

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Format: Taschenbuch
William Esper, war ein Schüler Sanford Meisners und hat über die Jahre Sandys Methode erweitert. Dieses Buch nimmt den Leser in das Klassenzimmer von William Esper mit und veranschaulicht das 1. Jahr an W. Espers Schule.
Das Buch ist sehr gut geschrieben und gefällt mir persönlich besser als "Sanford Meisner on Acting". Allerdings muss ich dazu sagen, dass ich an sich die Weiterentwicklung von William Esper sehr schätze und deshalb dieses Buch besonders empfehlen möchte.

Faszit: Sehr gute Einführung in Sanford Meisners Method Acting + sinnvolle Weiterentwicklung dieser Methode durch W. Esper.
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HASH(0x98a0124c) von 5 Sternen Engrossing, inspiring, full of humanity 10. September 2009
Von jaydub - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
This book came around at a strange time in my life...which I suppose is still happening. Although I was never part of the BFA or MFA program at Rutgers, I did take a few acting classes there as well as get involved in some college theatre. Bill Esper was an icon even back then but I completely took for granted what it is he did and more importantly, who he is. Since getting out and pounding the pavement for some real work, I've had moments of brilliance, some of which has garnered me a handful of (minor) speaking roles on notable television shows. Gradually, I began to regress in my preparation and in my respect for the craft because in my mind, I didn't see it as a necessity anymore. After all, who needs an applicable technique when you've booked work on Law & Order, Fringe, etc.? I became increasingly arrogant and felt entitled to success, all because I've had a little taste of it, probably from luck or what have you. In the past two years or so, I've been making big investments on casting director/agent workshops, all designed to get you seen, as long as you're willing to pay the price. One night, not too long ago, we had to watch our playback auditions at one of these "classes". I was certain I had nailed it because I "felt good" about what I did. I was in for a rude awakening when I saw my work. I was stiff, lacking life...natural perhaps but uninteresting. In the past, I would always respond by preparing harder the next time and I would continue to take more acting seminars. This time, for whatever reason, I was willing to admit to myself that whatever technique I had was unfocused. That I was easily assuaged by complimentary notes by casting directors and peers so that I can move on with my life. I believe it was a good friend of mine who recommended me this book. And now I realize how naive and foolish I've been these past couple of years.

The Actor's Art and Craft taught me that while commercial success should be commended, it's not worth sacrificing your very being for it. After a while, from audition to audition, you start to make choices that you THINK people want to see, regardless of how inorganic. But like all forms of art, one must be dedicated in his/her pursuits and strive for the perfection of the craft. I've read a handful of other acting books, but none as engrossing as this one. It covers the first year of Meisner and that includes repetition work, activities, criminal action problems, having an objective. The format is such that you feel that you are in the classroom with Bill and the company he teaches. There are characters you can easily identify with because you probably know them in real life. Some of the students are new to the craft, others have been pursuing the arts for a while. For me, though, the highlights of this book are the beautifully simple yet poetic words from William Esper himself, his notes to the class, his views on how important it is to LIVE. Really LIVE. It surprised me that at times I was brought to tears by some of the quotations because they were really moving and cathartic. One in particular had to do with how disconnected our modern society can be, what with all the iPods, gadgets, social networking sites etc. Nobody lives in the moment anymore.

Esper and DiMarco have put together a wonderful book that attacks the myths of what the Meisner technique can do for someone. It's not about emoting, it's about doing as well as being. You can't control how you feel, however you can allow yourself to be AFFECTED by what is going on around you. He talks about the importance of the precipitating circumstance: the one event that causes the two (or more) people on stage to come together in this time, in this place. Of course, before all of that, he teaches the importance of being yourself, to unlearn what society has taught you, to empty the garbage so to speak. Only then can you truly be free to follow your instincts. There is so much more I'd like to talk about in detail as far as specific exercises but I suggest you read it yourself if you're serious about learning the craft, or even reinvigorating your passion for it. When you're out in the real world, you'll hear people throw around the word "Meisner" and "objective" as if they really understand what it all entails. Many of them probably do and that is commendable. But there is a large majority who don't REALLY get it. I was one of them. I hope to continue my studies now that I've been humbled, and I hope to acquire practical skills and technique that's based on higher principles.

If you're as jaded as I was, you may be rolling your eyes at this gushfest. But I know what I want from all this: when I'm on stage or in front of a camera, I want to feel truly alive. When I'm NOT on stage or in front of the camera, I want to realize how remarkable it is to BE alive. This book is my first step towards my own salvation and my admission of cynicism and laziness. I hope to study with him one day.


Update: It is February 20th, 2011. I'm currently in my 2nd year at the Esper Studio. Although I haven't had Bill as a teacher, I've had the pleasure of being taught by other inspirational instructors there. I'm grateful for all that this training has given me, especially with respect to my life. I believe one of the biggest things I've learned is "don't be afraid to ACT"! My current teacher David says that a lot. You see, while I was auditioning for on-camera projects, I became convinced that the only thing required to impress a casting director was to "be natural", to be capable of "conversational reality". It is only recently that I realized that it's not enough to say the lines as if you'd "say them in real life" if there is no life or behavior behind it. That's the path to generality. Many actors are afraid to act and commit to their actions fully for fear of over-acting or being untruthful. Much of this perception, at least from where I stand, probably comes from this modern indie faux-indie film culture. I've seen many of those kinds of films: critics rave about the movie where the actors don't really do much but just throw away their lines, while most of the stylistic touches are provided by the director and editors. Looking back, that was what held me back the most when I was auditioning. I never fully got behind the circumstances or even bothered to understand the specifics of the moment before and what everything meant to me in the scene (which can only come alive from your body, not your mind).
6 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x984eeee8) von 5 Sternen Important on Levels Far Beyond Acting. THE ACTOR'S ART AND CRAFT: A Critical Review. 12. August 2010
Von Andre Lawrence - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
Off and on for the past 15 years, I've worked as an educator: middle school, at-risk youth and, since 2009, adult literacy.

One of the things I teach is that your personal reading list can (and should) have three (3) types of books. The first, books that are used to educate. These could be academic or even technical books in a specific field of interest. The second are books that you'd read for pleasure with no intellectual expectation. And, the third are books that add value to your life as a human being. They may (or may not) have an overtly religious theme but you're affected in a way that inspires you to be a better person morally, ethically and spiritually. The great books can fall into all three categories. The writings of Dostoevsky and Tolkien fall into this category for me. However, there are books that fall into two categories: THE ACTOR'S ART AND CRAFT is just such an example.

THE ACTOR'S ART AND CRAFT is, on the surface, a book about acting based on Sanford "Sandy" Meisner's technique as taught by William Esper. The book was written in tandem with Damon DiMarco, a former student who wanted to chronicle the approach that actors like Kim Basinger, Kathy Bates, Jeff Goldblum, John Malkovich, Paul Sorvino and many, many others used under the direction of "Bill" Esper.

The book starts out with a freshman group of students who've been accepted into Esper's class, including a veteran stage actress and follows their progression as Esper lays out the building blocks of what it takes to develop this skill. But, like the students in Esper's class, the reader is also to learn something other than becoming "someone else."

Inherent in these techniques is the development of three (3) behavioral traits that are essential for success in life. 1. A positive mental attitude and disposition. 2. Focusing one's attention on a desired result. 3. Expecting situations to work in one's favor. For me, this is the real meat and potatoes of the book.

Having had classes in theater and film as an undergraduate and, later working in the theater for several years, I was only aware of Stanislavsky's method, the most well-known and revered acting method, but Meisner's routine has some similarities, but branches off into areas of impulse and instinct.

If you're interested in acting and/or interested in overcoming fears that prevent you from putting your best foot forward, the practice described herein will give you the confidence and the encouragement to be the person you know yourself to be.
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HASH(0x984f2414) von 5 Sternen Good insight into the "Meisner" approach 29. August 2009
Von Just a Putz in WI - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
I'm deeply interested in HONEST acting (with affectation, pushing and demonstrating) and this book gets you off and running. I think these are great techniques to use with actors, and can quickly separate the wheat from the chaff, and get to the heart of open, honest acting, BUT they are deceptively simple exercies, and you need to know what you are looking for when things go awry, and how to address them. This books goes much further in revealing the goals behind the exercises than does Sandy's book. I think it is truly enlightening.

That being said, my frustrations are this: 1.), Bill and Damon stop after the first year of (arguably) foundation work. In short, they stop before getting into the "next level stuff." I honestly hope they put together year 2 of this training technique and not keep all the "in depth" goodies to themselves. 2.) My fear is that this approach discourages shaping a character that is an honest revelation of what is in the text. Not all instincts are ARTFUL instincts (another beef I have with Bill about encouraging actors to "let go" in real life - human nature is, by instinct, SELFISH), and not every actor inclination is going to be true to the text. Hopefully, an actor who is worth their salt will marry this approach with serving the text and a playwright worth their salt will have crafted a script that reveals vibrant characters, but as an ART form, I don't want to trust a performance to the whims of an actor who may, in any given moment, be struck with something funny their partner has done and runs with it. It may be engaging, but it won't necessarily be true to the play. That is my fear and question to Bill - how do you keep actors from running afoul of a simpler instinct? Perhaps your book on year 2 is the answer I await.
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HASH(0x984eea5c) von 5 Sternen Great Meisner Book 17. September 2012
Von Matt - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
Great book--very helpful for students of the Meisner Technique. Anyone thinking of studying Meisner should read this first. Very helpful.
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HASH(0x984b099c) von 5 Sternen Warts and all 24. September 2012
Von Amazon Customer - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verifizierter Kauf
This is without doubt a book for actors, but it's also an important resource for those aspiring to enter an art form that is little understood by outsiders and often only sketchily understood by those struggling within it. William Esper is clearly a tough taskmaster, as those at the top of our profession need to be, and he has no time for the 'amateur' or the 'dilettante' no matter how enthusiastic. I love the way he works and DiMarco's commentary is invaluable in highlighting the importance of the techniques used and the impact they have on the actors involved.

This is a raw, unflinching method of developing the actor's skills without which there is no truthful performance to bind the audience to their seats, completely unaware of the extraordinary techniques needed to make it all seem so effortless and lifelike.

If you are already an actor (especially one still struggling for recognition), or a drama student, or even an amateur (in the true sense of the word) who wishes to excel in your chosen hobby, read this book. It won't turn you into the next Brando, Pitt, Dench or Streep, but it will surely and soundly point you in the right direction.
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