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True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor

af David Mamet

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437656,227 (3.79)2
The Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, director, and teacher gives us a blunt, irreverent, unsparingly honest guide to acting that overturns conventional truths and tells aspiring actors what they really need to know. David Mamet leaves no acting tenet untouched: How to judge the role, approach the part, work with the playwright. How to concentrate and think about the scene. How to avoid becoming the Paint-by-Numbers Mechanical Actor, the "How'm I Doing?" Ham Actor, the over-the-top "Hollywood Huff" Actor. The right way to undertake auditions and rehearsals. The proper approach to agents, to individual jobs, and to the business in general. The question of talent.… (mere)
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Divertido.

David Mamet viene a decir: "Amigo actor, no me marees con tus mierdas. Apréndete el texto y no cambies ni una coma (soy el puto David Mamet). Sal al escenario, no choques con el decorado, escucha a los demás actores y limítate a soltar tus frases vocalizando bien."

(La traducción es horrible; está llena de faltas de ortografía.) ( )
  tomdoniphon | Apr 21, 2022 |
I remember wearing this book out when I first bought it. As an actor, it was rewarding to hear someone of Mamet's merit say "just say the words", rather than encouraging sense memory exercises, The Method, etc.

However, as the years went by, and I watched Mamet direct his own work with a heavy hand, I began to think that it was more of Mamet's ego that drove him to write this - a warning to actors to 'get out of my way' so my WORDS can take center stage.

Ironically, I'm a writer now, and I find "True and False" to have as much pretension as it does profundity.

( )
  TommyHousworth | Feb 5, 2022 |
here, mamet offers his view and interpretation of what really good acting is, and it can be most effectively distilled as a quotation: "Invent nothing. Deny nothing." meaning that, if it's there in the text, don't hide it in any way, and don't go looking for any greater explanation or supposed-character-based topography than what is presented in the words you are given.

on first reading the book, i dismissed it with the thought: "well, of course he'd say that about acting: he's a playwright!"

it took me a decade of continuous work in theatre to realize just how right mamet is about everything in here.

if you need proof, simply look at the names we know from theatre history: Shakespeare, Sophocles, Moliere, Lope de Vega, etc. they were all PLAYWRIGHTS. though they were all actors and directors and whatnot in some respect, they were, and still are, playwrights first and foremost, and what we remember and what we have of them are their words.

and what will live on, long after we, as actors, are dead and buried face down at a crossroads with stakes through our hearts, are their words.

and if we do not, as actors, put those words first and above all other considerations of character and emotion and whatever-insane-bullshit the liberal-arts-institution-tenured-faculty acting instructors have invented to justify their next publish-or-perish tome, we are fools and deserve to be denied sanctified interment.

because (lest we forget) the root cause of the whole actor-as-heretic treatment is the idea that actors take on other souls like possessed people.

well, if you stand between your audience and the text they came to hear and decide that you are behooven to conjure some new shit up from some combination of aether and your own paltry imagination (seriously, anyone who thinks of themselves as more creative than Shakespeare, raise your hand... [didn't think so.]) then you deserve to be burned at the stake.

theatre is / should be a holy endeavor. imagine if a rabbi, imam, or priest decided to load up god's word with a bunch of made-up-on-the-spot backstory crap about how Abraham (last figure on whom all three can agree) stayed his hand from laying waste to Isaac, not because of any familial bond or intrinsic sense of right and wrong, but because he had never learned the proper means of ceremonial slaughter because, as a child, he... blah blah blah... or he was not fit to perform the sacrifice, because at that moment he smelled feces because that morning, he... yadda yadda yadda...

that ain't what the congregation came to hear.

and if you don't think of your audience, in some way, as a congregation, you don't deserve them.

this goes to a large part of mamet's message in this book, that often gets buried in academic theatre: you, as an actor, are out there for them. not vice versa. ( )
  rmxwl | Sep 8, 2019 |
If the script says, "Henry walks across the room and opens the door," then walk across the room and open the door. Stop "acting." This is why Cary Grant is so great: he never "acted," but trusted the writers and the viewers. ( )
  Stubb | Aug 28, 2018 |
This is an intriguing and thought provoking book. Definitely a must read for anyone who is seriously involved in the theatre. Mamet has a very anti-establishment point of view that challenges many ideas held dear by those of the theatre community. I disagree with quite a bit of what Mamet says, but he did make me re-evaluate some of my ideas. His assertion that he knows so much about acting is more than just a bit pretentious; he admits himself that he tried and failed to become an actor. And I find his insistence that actors stay out of school to be hypocritical since he opened his own acting school and he doesn't have a problem teaching. In spite of that this book is definitely worth the time spent with it.
  moonradio | Feb 18, 2008 |
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The Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, director, and teacher gives us a blunt, irreverent, unsparingly honest guide to acting that overturns conventional truths and tells aspiring actors what they really need to know. David Mamet leaves no acting tenet untouched: How to judge the role, approach the part, work with the playwright. How to concentrate and think about the scene. How to avoid becoming the Paint-by-Numbers Mechanical Actor, the "How'm I Doing?" Ham Actor, the over-the-top "Hollywood Huff" Actor. The right way to undertake auditions and rehearsals. The proper approach to agents, to individual jobs, and to the business in general. The question of talent.

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