True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor

True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor

4.8 10
by David Mamet

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Invent nothing, deny nothing, speak up, stand up, stay out of school. With these words, one of our most brilliantly iconoclastic playwrights takes on the art of profession of acting, in a book that is as shocking as it is practical, as witty as it is instructive, and as irreverent as it is inspiring.
Acting schools, “interpretation,” “sense


Invent nothing, deny nothing, speak up, stand up, stay out of school. With these words, one of our most brilliantly iconoclastic playwrights takes on the art of profession of acting, in a book that is as shocking as it is practical, as witty as it is instructive, and as irreverent as it is inspiring.
Acting schools, “interpretation,” “sense memory,” “The Method”—David Mamet takes a jackhammer to the idols of contemporary acting, while revealing the true heroism and nobility of the craft. He shows actors how to undertake auditions and rehearsals, deal with agents and directors, engage audiences, and stay faithful to the script, while rejecting the temptations that seduce so many of their colleagues. Bracing in its clarity, exhilarating in its common sense, True and False is invaluable.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"The job of the actor is to communicate the play to the audience, not to bother it with his or her good intentions and insights and epiphanies about the ways this or that character might use a handkerchiefthese are the concerns of second-class minds." So writes Mamet, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, director and teacher in this extremely blunt, unorthodox and shocking treatise on the profession of acting. He remarks that "Stanislavsky was essentially an amateur" and goes on to attack method acting and its proponents. He challenges the performer to be a daring individualist by staying away from formal acting schools: "Part of the requirements of a life in the theater is to stay out of school....Formal education for the player is not only useless, but harmful." And he goes on to say, "Let me be impolite: most teachers of acting are frauds." Mamet stresses that there are no set rules and refuses to define what talent is: "I don't know what talent is, and, frankly, I don't care. I do not think it is the actor's job to be interesting. I think that is the job of the script. I think it is the actor's job to be truthful and brave." This controversial book will anger many in the profession but may also inspire because of its brashness and daring. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Mamet (e.g., Glengarry Glen Ross), considered a foremost contemporary American dramatist by most critics, here offers a bold new approach to acting. Mamet draws on his decades of observing good (and bad) acting to present a slim but intriguing volume of musings. Disdainful of studios, acting schools, and graduate school, he declares, "The classroom will teach you how to obey, and obedience in the theater will get you nowhere." Mamet exhorts actors to show up early, have their lines down cold, and have a single objective for each scene. He contends that overthinking and too much emotional interpretation is not the actor's role. Essential reading for theater collections.J. Sara Paulk, Coastal Plain Regional Lib., Tifton, Ga.

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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Random House
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Meet the Author

David Mamet was born in Chicago in 1947. He studied at Goddard College in Vermont and at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theater in New York. He has taught at Goddard College, the Yale Drama School, and New York University, and lectures at the Atlantic Theater Company, of which he is a founding member. He is the author of the acclaimed plays The Cryptogram, Oleanna, Speed-the-Plow, Glengarry Glen Ross, American Buffalo, and Sexual Perversity in Chicago. He has also written screenplays for such films as House of Games and the Oscar-nominated The Verdict, as well as The Spanish Prisoner, The Winslow Boy, and Wag the Dog. His plays have won the Pulitzer Prize and the Obie Award.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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True and False 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you consider yourself an actor, you must not only read this book -- you must read it immediately, posthaste, and pronto ... if not sooner. Mamet cuts through all the nonsense and garbage that we, as actors or students, come across far too often in classes, workshops, and productions -- and leaves us with a remarkably pared-down core of refreshing, common-sense simplicity. As I read this book, I found myself frequently nodding my head in agreement and saying aloud (even while on the train), 'Yes! That's it!!!' If you're the sort who uses a yellow 'highlighter' pen or who 'dog ears' a book's pages when studying or reading, by the time you're done reading this book (which should take no time at all -- it's an incredibly quick read!) you'll find yourself with pages more yellow than white, and more dog ears than a puppy kennel. A MUST READ!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mamet is a genius. The most honest and straightforward book on acting and the business ever written. A must read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mamet's True and False portrays the very real reality in the theatrical world. He talks about how the institutions of theatre have turned the craft/art of acting into something artificial and intellectual, rather than organic and simple. Mamet also talks about how certain institutions, such as university training, can ruin good actors. I have constantly wondered why I wasn't getting what I needed out of acting classes at the university level, and Mamet explains why ever so eloquently. And I thought I was in left field for so long. I have been brought back into the light.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Clockhart More than 1 year ago
David Mamet is one of the most respected directors and writers in the theatre today and his technique is, in my opinion, the most applicable of all acting strictures. The statements he makes are tremendously obscure, but powerful nonetheless, and furthermore indispensable to any actor in the theatre. Be open-minded when reading, some of the things he says are slightly frustrating.
Devittdude More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be challenging, because of the steps it asks you to take. It goes against any acting training you can recieve in a school. It cuts out character work, and inspires any actor to focus on the important aspects of the profession. His style of writing is simple to read, but complex to understand,(If you have had previous acting training) if you haven't - it will be easy to put to practice. In Mamet's style of prose he proves what can't be proven. It is cutting edge. It puts to rest the theory of "Method" Acting. It is a must have for any actor, or any to-be actor. It is a must have for anyone planing to work on a Mamet play.
Not_Really_Real More than 1 year ago
This book speaks about the pure notion of the theatre. I do not recommend this book if you are a film and TV actor. Theatergoers and Theatre Actors should really consider this book; it speaks with honesty and ignores propriety.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Challenging and engaging but often unclear. Mamet is vague. I read this a while ago but I remember that he said all an actor needs to do is memorize lines, know your cues, and speak loud and clear. That's silly. I think there is more to it than that. I'd love to work with Mamet, I wonder what he is like as a director.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Beware if you are a university theatre professor, this book may take you into areas of self examination in which you may not be prepared to go. But for the rest of us, this is the most exciting theatre book that I have read since my first reading of an Actor Prepares or Shurtleff's The Audition. I found myself at times arguing with the book and at other times cheering for Mamet's forthrightness. If you are looking for a topic of discussion: get a group of theatre people, read this book, a cup of coffee ( or two) and have an evening of the greatest conversation.