For the benefit of our students, here is a list of recommended authors, as a source for scenes to work on in class.
We recommend you read as many American plays as you can, from the 30's through the middle 60's, but begin with these authors (in order particular order).
Eugene O'Neill, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Clifford Odets, Maxwell Anderson, Thornton Wilder, William Saroyan, Lillian hellman, William Inge, David Mamet, Robert E. Sherwood, Sidney Kingsley, Phillip Barry, David Rabe, Terrence McNally, John Van Druten, Clare Booth, Archibald MacLeish, George S. Kaufman, John Guare, Garson Kanin, Arthur Laurents, S.N. Behrman, Paul Green, Neil Simon, Lanford Wilson, Sidney Howard, Marc Connelly, Irwin Shaw, Edward Albee, Isreal Horovitz, Elmer Rice, Robert Anderson
To understand why they wrote the plays they wrote, and greater insight into what these plays are about, you should read as many biographies on theses authors as you can find.
As you begin serious scene work you will use these scenes to practice your acting. When you read a scene, and it hits you on an emotional level, that may be a good scene on which to work.
Dramatists Play Service
An Agent Tells All
BOOKS for ACTORS
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
by Steven Covey
Mr. Covey studied two hundred years of self-improvement books, made some startling discoveries, and codified the real habits of achievers. (A remarkable coincidence as this was much the same process that Stanislavski followed in studying actors and inventing his approach to training them.)
The Collected Works of Harold Clurman
by Harold Clurman
To gain a genuine knowledge of acting, playwriting and theater read this book like the bible.
Sanford Meisner on Acting
by Sanford Meisner and Dennis Longwell
An influence to our approach to training actors. The inventor of an acting exercise which allows the individual to repeatedly practice the real skills of acting while developing imagination. Part of the genius of his exercise is that it enables the actor's talent and instincts.
Stella Adler on Ibsen, Strindberg and Chekhov
edited by Barry Paris
Miss Adler's lectures on script analysis. An excellent beginning for actors to find their way to a personal understanding of the text.
Kazan The Master Director Discusses His Films
by Jeff Young
Tell the truth, actors today want to make movies. Fine, study the films of Kazan. Of the all-time classic films, Kazan's rank at the top of everybody's lists.
You might also take in Edward Dmytryk's, It's a Hell of a Life but Not a Bad Living. Dmytryk shared much in common with Kazan including the actors with which he worked.
Man's Search For Meaning
by Viktor E. Frankl
Without meaning in your acting all that's left are words. Viktor Frankl, a holocaust survivor, tunes you in to what is genuinely decent and genuinely indecent in humanity. Your humanity, your values, and your character are sources for meaning in your acting.
Instant Word Power
by Norman Lewis
Irene Peter wrote, "Ignorance is no excuse -- it's the real thing."
Words are not merely the tools of human utterance they are the tools of thought. The more words you understand the clearer your thinking and your communication.
When Do I Start?
by Karl Malden
It Would be So Nice If You Weren't Here
by Charles Grodin
A one-two punch of the realities of being a professional actor. It only takes ten or fifteen years to get started and after twenty or so you might know where your next job is coming from. One of the most admirable traits of Malden's was that he never took any jobs but acting jobs.
The Artist's Way
by Julia Cameron and Mark Bryan
Do your pages. You have to know yourself to understand what goes into a role. You cannot act what you do not know yourself.
Zen and the Art of Archery
by Eugen Harrigel
A clear and substantial illustration of a serious approach to learning a craft. All the mistakes and all the ego and rationale that prevent the actor from learning his craft are delineated and solutions illustrated.
If you intend to become an expert in your field you'll have to read every biography and autobiography of every achiever in acting and every book on the modern history of American theater beginning with:
Wendy Smith - Real Life Drama
Harold Clurman - The Fervent Years
Morris Carovsky - An Actor's Eye
Robert Lewis - Advice to the Players
Elia Kazan - A Life
Jay Williams - Stage Left
Jane De Hart Mathews - The Federal Theatre 1935-1939
Hallie Flanagan - Arena
With this list as your foundation you'll quickly see, with subsequent titles, that which holds the truth and that which is a waste of time.