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4.6 out of 5 stars25
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 14 July 2003
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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on 19 November 2013
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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on 29 July 2010
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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on 28 April 2008
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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on 8 October 2014
This is one of the best books on acting one could get his hands on. Simple and at the same immensely practical, it identifies and dissects a number of problems that most actors must have encountered at some point, and provides practical solutions that help free the actor and help him release his/her creative and expressive potential. A must read!
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on 12 November 2013
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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on 9 October 2014
I’m not an actor but I have an interest in theatre and this book proved to be much more than I expected. Its practical approach highlights solutions for directing a team to think 'outside the box’ - I have found myself applying it in my business!
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on 12 June 2013
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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on 9 October 2014
Best book on acting I ever read. Practical, intelligent and grounded in the knowledge of what an actor actually goes through in a rehearsal room.
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on 16 November 2014
This is one of the most enjoyable, challenging and important books on acting that I have read. I read it first as a drama student and find myself revisiting it often. Full of wisdom and truths, it is as insightful for life as much as for the stage. Declan has a humour and love that keeps the actor safe but vitally tests and pushes them, so that the work is always alive and immediate. I cannot recommend it highly enough. READ IT!!!
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