This is a book for the thinking actor, and the finest actors I've known are just that. The best actors bring it all together: body, heart, spirit, and mind. This book is for the actor who thinks about craft and influence, who thinks about the relationship of performance to living, who thinks about doing and what that doing means. Acting is a metaphor, and it's a mirror. A theory of acting, if true, shows us to ourselves. Jeff Zinn knows this. He knows it as an actor, director, teacher, and thinker. His theory of everything is simple and revelatory.
(From the foreword by Todd London)
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Using this to improve tours I give
- Gail Lelyveld
Talk or Die
Talk or die. Good advice for any actor or, as Jeff Zinn confirms, any human being. By consolidating vast amounts of philosophical perspectives, The Existential Actor manages to condense an array of practical and near-mystical observations by a myriad of actor-trainers (mostly sharing the ethos of Stanislavsky) into a sharply defined defense of the hunger for self-identity.
Were his discussions not shaped by years of working towards an understanding of the psychological pitfalls of a life of creating characters onstage, his thesis might be tedious, simply adding to the weight of critical and artistic theory that floods university theatre programs. Such is not the case. Zinn is actually able to distill these disparate elements into four steps: shape, action, transaction, and surrender.
And when he solicits the inspired notions of Shakespeare, Ibsen, Chekhov, Miller, and Mamet in service of his thesis, one begins to sense the value of such an existential – or inward-looking – approach to the craft. We are all fighting not just to stay alive, but also to satisfy an equally powerful hunger for meaning, a belief that our short sojourns on this planet will count for something.
The actor is the guide to such an adventure, and that fact is the central thrust of Jeff Zinn’s discourse, which, by the way, is well-worth a few hours of listening, especially as its narrated with the same clarity and distinctive pronunciation of his father, whose college lectures I shall always cherish.
- James Seymour