Life and Acting: Techniques for the Actor

Life and Acting: Techniques for the Actor

by Jack Garfein


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Arriving in America as a teenage Holocaust refugee, Jack Garfein would soon rise to the top of his field. Life and Acting is the product of more than sixty years in the world of theater and film, offering the kind of insight only gained by experience as both a teacher and practitioner. In Garfein’s case, his experience is unparalleled—he has worked with a who’s who of twentieth-century acting, especially those associated with the Actors Studio, the West Coast arm of which Garfein cofounded.

In Life and Acting, Garfein distills his experience into a holistic technique for learning and teaching. “The Beginning” functions as a kind of memoir, focusing on Garfein’s own education in the theater. “The Art” describes how Garfein’s exposure to nontheater artists, particularly painters and writers, has contributed to his understanding of acting. “Basic Training” offers thirty-seven detailed lessons for teaching acting. In “Training for Film,” Garfein applies his principles to acting in front of a camera.

Like Uta Hagen’s Respect for Acting and other classics of this genre, Life and Acting will be an invaluable resource for teachers as well as students.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780810126732
Publisher: Northwestern University Press
Publication date: 06/30/2010
Pages: 310
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Jack Garfein is an internationally renowned director, writer, and producer who has worked in theater, film, and television. He has lectured at Harvard, UCLA, and New York University, and was an associate professor of cinema at the University of Southern California. He is a founder of the Actors and Directors Lab (New York and Los Angeles), the Actors Studio West (Los Angeles), and Jack Garfein Studio (Paris). He currently teaches acting and directing at his studio in Paris and at the University of the Arts London.

Table of Contents

Preface xi

Acknowledgments xvii

Part 1 Beginning

1 A Boy's Idea of Acting 5

2 Waiting for Discovery 6

3 Disaster Strikes 15

4 Flashes of Brilliance with No Explanation 17

5 An Actor Becomes a Director 22

6 The Newly Founded Actors Studio 28

7 Strasberg's New Formulas 34

8 Puzzling Advice 39

Part 2 The Art

9 The First Clues 47

10 The Nature of Emotions in Acting 53

11 The Playwright and the Actor 58

12 Masterpieces within Masterpieces 61

13 Actor Training in the Long Past 66

14 From Practice to Theory 71

Part 3 Basic Training

Lesson 1 Ease in Acting 83

Lesson 2 First Approach to the Text 94

Lesson 3 Action, Activity, and Inner Concerns 96

Lesson 4 Personalization, Needs, and Obstacles 105

Lesson 5 Drama, Comedy, and Farce 120

Lesson 6 Notations on the Text 124

Lesson 7 Creating the Setting 126

Lesson 8 Preparation and Physical Sensations 131

Lesson 9 Subconscious Connections to the Text 139

Lesson 10 Playing Another Person's Scene 144

Lesson 11 Other Latent Links to the Play 145

Lesson 12 Reversing Roles 148

Lesson 13 Multiple Readings of the Play 149

Lesson 14 The Emergence of a Character 153

Lesson 15 Reversing Characters 174

Lesson 16 Grasping the Story of the Play 177

Lesson 17 Checking Veracity in Playing and Casting 183

Lesson 18 The Grip on the Story 188

Lesson 19 Biography of the Character 190

Lesson 20 Qualities and Characteristics in a Role 195

Lesson 21 The Values of Improvisation 198

Lesson 22 The First Rehearsal 203

Lesson 23 Giving in to Physical Impulses 210

Lesson 24 An Inner Line of Images 211

Lesson 25 Characters' Needs, Desires, and Obstacles 214

Lesson 26 Setting Physical Behavior 217

Lesson 27 The Rehearsal Process 219

Lesson 28 Run-Through Without Book 221

Lesson 29 The Presentation 225

Lesson 30 Fulfilling Someone Else's Concept 226

Lesson 31 The Use of a Profession 229

Lesson 32 Acting the Works of Beckett, Ionesco, and Brecht 230

Lesson 33 Soliloquies, Shakespeare, and Classic Plays 239

Lesson 34 Punctuation in Classic Plays 244

Lesson 35 The Images in Classic Plays 249

Lesson 36 Delivery of Asides 251

Lesson 37 Talking to the Audience 253

Part 4 Training for Film

Disparity in Stage and Film Acting 259

A Few Words on the Effects of Harmful Substances, Physical Violence, and Aging 264

Lesson 38 The Actor and the Camera 268

Lesson 39 Acting in a Real Environment 273

Appendix: Additional Improvisations for Lesson 14 275

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