The Art of Acting provides a basic introduction and general advice for people wishing to develop their skills as actors or actresses. It is aimed at both the amateur enthusiast and for those wishing to pursue their interest further and undertake professional training. Advice is given on the basic skills which every actor needs to develop, such as breathing, voice control, the use of body language, timing and handling the audience. The importance of understanding a text and the interaction of the characters within it is considered, as is the relationship between the actor/actress and director. Auxiliary activities such as actors' exercises and warm-ups are evaluated and general advice provided. Specific skills are discussed, such as the learning of lines, mime, mastering dialects and accents, period manners, and ensuring that make-up is suitable to the role. Summaries of the ideas of famous theorists, directors and actors, are included such as: Stanislawski, Lee Strasberg, Michael Chekhov and Dorothy Heathcote; Peter Brook and Peter Hall; and John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier, Simon Callow, Ian McKellen, Judi Dench, Alec Guinness, Michael Caine and Dirk Bogarde. There is also some consideration of the differences between stage and screen acting; the problems of acting in the open air and the particular demands of certain playwrights, such as Shakespeare, and Brecht.

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