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The Actor and the Target [Paperback]

Declan Donnellan
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

31 Oct 2002
It's about time there was a modern equivalent of Stanislavsky. This is it - written by the founding director of the new Royal Shakespeare Company Academy Declan Donnellan's Acting Unrestrained is set to become a classic in its field. Simply and directly written, it outlines the eight 'blocks' an actor is likely to encounter, offering clear instructions as to how to overcome them. Each blockage is expressed in a similar way: 'I don't know what I'm doing', 'I don't know what I want', 'I don't know who I am' etc. The problem, Donnellan says, is that in worrying about the 'self', the actor loses touch with the character. For instance, the actress playing Juliet does not need to find within herself the ability to love her Romeo: she needs simply to see Romeo through Juliet's eyes. This loss of self-consciousness is achieved by the used of targets or objectives outside the self which the actor strives to fulfil - and in that striving, concern with self drops away. Clearly and systematically laid out and full of firm and unambiguous precepts, this book will become a bible for actors in the 21st century.

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The Actor and the Target + Different Every Night: Freeing the Actor + The Complete Stanislavsky Toolkit (new edition)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Nick Hern Books (31 Oct 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1854591274
  • ISBN-13: 978-1854591272
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 13.2 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 821,900 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Hugely practical and never gets lost in theory. --El Pais

Explains Donnellan's highly practical system and sheds unique light on one of the greatest directors of acting in our time. --Le Monde

A gripping read, as acute about the psychology of lying as it is about the art of acting. --Guardian --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Declan Donnellan founded Cheek by Jowl, which he ran for fifteen years before embarking on an illustrious career as a freelance theatre and opera director. His triumphs include an all-male As You Like It, the world premiere of Angels in America at the National Theatre and, this summer, a Boris Godunov that took even Moscow by storm. This December he directs the world premiere in New York of Tony Kushner's latest play. He has just been appointed to run the prestigious new Royal Shakespeare Company Academy, which will begin in Stratford next year

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Practical, Useful, Wise 14 July 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Donnelan knows that writing about the mystery of acting is difficult. All truths in the art are paradoxes or double negatives. However this is the first book I have read which practically and helpfully sets out to analyse the common causes of 'block' and how they can be overcome. The central plank of his thinking is the concept of the target; that there always is one, that it is always 'active' and that it's always outside of the actor. 'I die', for example, does not help an actor. 'I welcome sweet death,' however, does. This is refreshing for anyone who is sceptical of the soupy psycholgical blathering that many practitioners indulge in. Here, concepts like 'intent', 'motivation', and 'need' for the actor are necessary reactions to external stimuli, rather than narcissistic self analysis. 'The Actor and the Target will be most useful for directors and actors tired of the cant and anecodotal posturing of most books on their art, and it will become something of a bible for those who hold that in a theatre, talk is cheap, showing is everything.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful for non-actors 19 Nov 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm a teacher, nothing to do with acting, but I saw the book at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford, bought it, loved it, and bought another online for a friend, also a teacher.

I was seduced by the blurb, and can now say it's true: "[It] is no more for actors only than The Art of War is reserved for warriors..."

When I'm teaching, I try to listen to the student, find gaps in their knowledge and work from there, rather than having a set agenda for a lesson, or even a course right from the start. This book resonated with this approach, and I got a lot from it, despite not thinking of using it for acting. I want to read it again, which is a good sign.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Applications wider than acting 28 April 2008
By Lovborg
Format:Paperback
As befits a great director, Donnellan has written a great book about directing actors. But it's also much more than that: it's a fantastic examination of the process of collaboration and leadership in all areas. By examining the easy protestations that actors fall back on, and drawing them down to their root cause, Donnellan reveals a hugely focused and inspirational way of thinking about problems. The book's frame of reference may well be the stage, but its applications are far wider. Fascinating and clear.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good and practical. 29 July 2010
By SUE
Format:Paperback
I happened to sign up for a course with a Cheek by Jowl practitioner, Owen Horsley, and was reading the book at the same time. This made the book come alive. It's basic Stanislavski with a fresh touch and is specifically for blocked actors. It made the work seem extremely simple, which of course, as any actor knows is great to hear and not so easy to do!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST-READ 9 Oct 2014
Format:Paperback
Declan Donnellan's The Actor and the Target is the best, and certainly the most memorable, acting book I have read.
It is beautiful written, insightful, acutely sharp and mentally stimulating. It is full of pearls of wisdom, useful both onstage and off. There is true depth there, but also a lightness of touch and a sense of humour. It is extremely precise but at the same time eminently readable. It challenges the reader in its disarmingly honest style to think of acting from a different prism.
The methods it expounds unlocked and liberated me when I first read it as a drama student. It inspired and uplifted me. I revisit it often. I bought it twice (when I thought I'd lost my copy).
"Don't go home".
I recommend it whole-heartedly.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bought for study 12 Nov 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this for my daughter who is studying drama and she said it is a very helpful book and gives her further knowledge in this area.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent tips 12 Jun 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I like this book, the only thing is that it is very repeditive using romeo & juliet as a metaphor. but still worth reading!!
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