Exploring the art of acting
THE ACTOR UNCOVERED: A LIFE IN ACTING by Michael Howard. Published by Allworth Press. 2,540 pages. $19.99 retail (paperback), $24.99 retail (hardcover), $24.99 retail (e-book).
With 70 years’ worth of experience, Michael Howard is unquestionably an expert in the field of acting. Michael Howard Studios, which he founded more than 50 years ago, is recognized as a preeminent training ground for up-and-coming actors. Now, Howard shares what he has learned – and taught – in “The Actor Uncovered: A Life in Acting.”
The book is not a self-aggrandizing treatise; Howard doesn’t say, “I’m right, this is wrong.” With regard to the legendary acting teachers, Howard mentions some of the “usual suspects” – Stanislavski, Strasberg, Stella Adler, Sanford Meisner – some of whom he knew well – and distills their teachings (and the teachings of others, including himself) into easy-to-understand terms.
“The Actor Uncovered” doesn’t make acting seem any easier, but it certainly demystifies the process to a considerable extent. It’s not a textbook by any means; it’s written in an unpretentious, conversational style that’s insightful without being pretentious, informative without being heavy-handed. It’s not as if the reader will become the next Laurence Olivier, or, in more contemporary terms, the next Daniel Day-Lewis – but one might get a better insight into the techniques that these, and other actors, use, lending further appreciation into the craft of acting.
From the actor’s point of view, Howard explains the importance of relaxation and concentration, which aren’t mutually exclusive, as well as the different adjustments required when acting on film or television as opposed to the stage. He covers not just the processes, but also the important relationship between director and actor, and director and actor and writer – sharing anecdotes and experiences that bear out his observations, and occasionally, those which humorously contradict them.
The underlying assessment here is that the actor should use what works best for him or her, what makes them the most comfortable and, more importantly, the most creative. Indeed, those two ideas aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive either.
The official Allworth Press website is www.allworth.com/.
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. © 2018, Mark Burger.