Must-reads for stagestruck teen
January 23, 2011 2:46 AM   Subscribe

Please recommend books for a 15-year-old who loves acting.

My soon-to-be-15-year-old niece is outgoing, funny, sings and dances, and just played the Scarecrow in her school production of the Wizard of Oz. What terrific book about acting could I get her for her birthday? Both fiction and non-fiction suggestions are welcome.
posted by Paris Elk to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Michael Caine's "Acting in Film" (the DVD is good too)
posted by rongorongo at 3:05 AM on January 23, 2011

Best answer: As a 15 year old theater geek, I loved The Art of Coarse Acting, which is more in the "satire" category than actually helpful.
posted by knile at 4:03 AM on January 23, 2011

A Practical Handbook for the Actor
posted by wabbittwax at 5:14 AM on January 23, 2011

Might be a touch young for her, but has she read Noel Stretfield's "Shoes" books (Ballet Shoes, Theater Shoes, etc.)? They're YA fiction about girls (mostly; some boys) in post-war London training for the stage. They have a lot of really fascinating detail about what it was like to be a child actor in the U.K. in those days.

Personally I still enjoy reading them through when I need an afternoon away. :)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:32 AM on January 23, 2011

Impro by Keith Johnstone
posted by Grangousier at 7:04 AM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson
It's cute and hilarious and it takes the young actors and their ambitions seriously.
posted by ansate at 7:38 AM on January 23, 2011

It's pretty high-level, but I'll recommend Acting: Advanced Techniques for the Actor, Director, and Teacher by Terry Schreiber, arguably one of the greatest living acting coaches in the world. I took a short workshop with Schreiber in Baltimore, and even though it was only a few weekends, I learned an amazing amount.

And although you specifically asked about books, I'll add that any theater geek will go absolutely crazy over a DVD set of Slings and Arrows.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:49 AM on January 23, 2011

If she's really interested in acting, she's just *got* to read Sanford Meisner's On Acting. Meisner's technique is simultaneously very simple and profoundly challenging, and to me, so different from any other. The focus on your partner and on "doing" rather than "thinking" and Meisner's "living truthfully under imaginary circumstances" can lead to wonderfully natural performances. (I am biased, though - I spent two years doing thrice-weekly studio classes with Lauri Peters, who learned the technique from Sandy himself.)
posted by jocelmeow at 8:31 AM on January 23, 2011

Seconding Meisner's On Acting, also recommended to me by a former pupil of his (and acting teacher of mine), Wendy Ward.

Also, I studied longform improv under many people who were students of Del Close, who co-wrote a book called Truth In Comedy. Many of the American actors whom we laud today, such as Bill Murray, started their careers as improvisers studying with the late Mr. Close.
posted by droplet at 9:34 AM on January 23, 2011

Dramarama by E. Lockhart. It's a young-adult novel about kids at a musical theater summer camp.
posted by kayram at 10:07 AM on January 23, 2011

Personally (as an improviser), I found Keith Johnstone's Impro for Storytellers better than the original. Though both are great reads.
posted by themissy at 12:37 PM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Years ago, I learned quite a bit from Audition.
posted by wittgenstein at 1:01 PM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Respect for Acting by Uta Hagen. Also a great book about making art generally.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:01 PM on January 23, 2011

As a 15 year old theater geek, I loved The Art of Coarse Acting, which is more in the "satire" category than actually helpful.

Teaching people what not to do can be helpful! I liked that book as a teenager too.
posted by the latin mouse at 3:42 AM on January 24, 2011

Response by poster: Stagestruck niece received Acting for Young Actors: The Ultimate Teen Guide, for the practical side, and The Art of Coarse Acting, because it just sounds so damned funny.

All these suggestions are great and will be used for future gifts. Thanks, everybody.
posted by Paris Elk at 3:49 AM on January 29, 2011

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