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True Acting Tips: A Path to Aliveness, Freedom, Passion and Vitality

True Acting Tips: A Path to Aliveness, Freedom, Passion and Vitality

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True Acting Tips: A Path to Aliveness, Freedom, Passion and Vitality

424 pagine
2 ore
Aug 1, 2012


True Acting Tips leads stage and screen actors on a journey of passion, intimacy, and personal investment. This isn't to say that there will not be heavy demands and a high cost, but ultimately, this book is designed to offer the clarity and encouragement to become an actor who makes a difference in the lives of the audience members. “True Acting” is not a reproduction of anything that has come before and True Acting Tips is not a book concerned primarily with the technical demands of acting. Instead, it is an in-depth examination and invitation to see and experience acting as a momentous burst of creation – new, surprising, and deeply human. It includes inspirational quotes, more than 200 acting tips, and images that reveal a powerful philosophy to assist in the most difficult moments. Reading this book, actors will find the joy of true communion with their acting partners and, through this encounter, give the audience an uplifting experience by reminding them that we are all, in fact, human beings.
Aug 1, 2012

Informazioni sull'autore

Larry Silverberg is one of the world's foremost authorities on the Sanford Meisner technique of acting through his internationally acclaimed four volume series, "The Sanford Meisner Approach: An Actors Workbook," and his book, "Loving To Audition." Larry's first book for teen actors, "The 7 Simple Truths of Acting for the Teen Actor" was released last year. Larry is a graduate of the Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theatre where he studied with legendary acting teacher, Sanford Meisner. Since then, Larry has worked professionally as an actor and director across the United States and in Canada. Most recently, he received high praise from the New York Times for his performance as "Don" in Athol Fugard's "People Are Living There" at The Signature Theater in New York City, and he won the Seattle Critic's Association "Stellar Acting Award" for his portrayal of "Teach" in the Belltown Theatre Center production of "American Buffalo". Larry is Founder and Director of The True Acting Institute at Eckerd College where he offers his "Teaching The Meisner Approach Certificate Program" for acting teachers and his "College Actor Master Class." Learn more about these programs at this link: Learn more about Larry's many international programs at his link:'s has also been busy leading his newest workshop, "The Way Back Out" an empowering and transformational seminar aimed at freeing the authentic expression of people in all fields. Please visit the website to learn more about this exciting event. The link is: Larry has also recently launched "College Acting Programs.Com", his website devoted to helping high school actors find the best college acting programs. The website address is: Larry can be contacted through his own web site address, or emailed at

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  • True Actors, just like Ping-Pong players, after rigorous years of work on their craft, have claimed the ability to adjust instantly, spontaneously, and organically to everything the partner is dishing up to them, in every moment.

  • You cannot make an audience believe you; you can only invite them to share your experience. Remember this vital truth: an audience always knows when they are being lied to.

  • Strive to get yourself out of the way, to become an empty vessel, so that the character is free to speak through you.

  • A pause in talking onstage is not a technical thing. Unfortunately, many directors do not understand this.

  • My advice, if you want to be a better actor, is to first be a better person.

Anteprima del libro

True Acting Tips - Larry Silverberg

Copyright © 2012 by Larry Silverberg

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form, without written permission, except by a newspaper or magazine reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages in connection with a review.

Published in 2012 by Limelight Editions

An Imprint of Hal Leonard Corporation

7777 West Bluemound Road

Milwaukee, WI 53213

Trade Book Division Editorial Offices

33 Plymouth St., Montclair, NJ 07042

Book design by Mayapriya Long, Bookwrights

All photos are from Shutterstock

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available upon request



Part One: True Acting Tips

Part Two: True Acting Resources

Dr. Richard Kowal on Finding Your Sharpest Edge

Artotems Co. on the New Art of Promotion

Tara Brach on Buddhist Ancient Teachings


On November 8, 2010, I began a column on my website called True Acting Tips. I was urged to do the tips by a friend and colleague, Art at Artotems Co., who has been working with me on my Internet activities for many years. I was reluctant at first to do tips, because I have never been a fan of easy fixes when it comes to the craft of acting. After giving it some thought, however, I decided to use this forum as a place to investigate, with readers, ways of working that are demanding, provocative, and deeply human. As the tips evolved, the column became a place where I have been able to share the technical aspects of acting technique as well as the more philosophical and spiritual backbone that lives inside acting, life, and the way we live our lives.

What a wonderful surprise when, very quickly, the tips gained a global following. I have been inspired to keep writing the tips by countless emails of appreciation I have received from people in many parts of the world who have found them useful and who read them religiously. Of course, I was overjoyed when the kind folks at Limelight Editions told me that they were enthusiastic about the tips and that they would publish them as my newest book on acting.

In Part One you will find 203 tips, exploring key themes that I examine from many different angles. I have assignments for you to explore, as well as many ideas for you to reflect on. Between each tip, you will find an inspirational quote, offered here to instigate further thought about the relationship between our humanity and the art of acting. (Thanks to Artotems Co. for their contribution of some of the inspirational quotes.)

In Part Two, True Actor Resources, I present three people whom I thought you would enjoy knowing and who have very good information to support you and your acting activities.

If you have any questions about the material presented in the tips, suggestions for new tips, or anything you would like to share with me in response to these tips, please contact me via my website:

Part One

True Acting Tips


A primary True Acting value: Embrace everything, deny nothing.

The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.

—Mark Twain


Someone may come up to you and say, Wow, how do you remember all those lines? But for the True Actor, memorizing the words is the very least of the challenges.

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

—Dr. Seuss


True Acting is much more about learning how to ask yourself great questions than about having great answers.

I feel the capacity to care is the thing which gives life its deepest significance.

—Pablo Casals


Do not confuse yelling with actually doing something onstage. I have seen so many plays where the actors scream at each other throughout the whole performance. Believe me, there are an infinite variety of ways to accomplish your action, and the least important of these is the volume of your voice!

Why, then, are so many actors yelling? It is because, in many acting classes, the expression of anger is actually promoted and praised. There are teachers who turn anger into the holy grail of acting. And students who feel good getting into that state of rage fall into the trap. What a sad mistake for everyone involved.

Remember, all human expression is good, and when you are fully present, available, and free, you will always respond appropriately to the needs of the moment. And you may indeed get angry or sad or joyful. The vital point is that you must always be fully responding to the needs of the moment, wherever they lead.

The problem is when acting students are manipulated into becoming angry for anger’s own sake and at the expense of everything else. This is what we then see on the stage, actors screaming at each other at the expense of everything else—including their acting partners and acting itself.

The emotions aren’t always immediately subject to reason, but they are always immediately subject to action.

—William James


All human behavior is purposeful. The same must be true on the stage.

Only in spontaneity can we be who we truly are.

—John McLaughlin


True Acting demands a total devotion. At the expense of everything else? No! By welcoming everything else.

Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant.



In human beings, words are the last thing to occur. They arise out of a deep-seated desire. Actors must have the very same authentic need to say the words, or their life onstage is without true purpose.

Nothing ever happened in the past; it happened in the Now. Nothing will ever happen in the future; it will happen in the Now.

—Eckhart Tolle


All human beings are connected by an invisible thread. Because most people have their attention only on themselves, the invisible thread is severed. The actor’s attention must be directed outward so that the invisible thread remains intact.

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

—Leonardo da Vinci


Attention on oneself, acting is not possible. Attention directed to the other, acting is possible.

A black cat crossing your path signifies that the animal is going somewhere.

—Groucho Marx


True Acting is an art of Authentic Relationship. This is rare in life, so of course, it is rare on the stage.

Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous mind.

—Samuel Johnson


One of the greatest traps for the actor is when you look for emotional results. It creates a paralyzing watching yourself, and your instrument can’t function. So what must you do? Look at Tip 12 for insight.

It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult undertaking which, more than anything else, will determine its successful outcome.

—William James


Important to notice. In life, no one sits around trying to be emotional. Only badly trained actors do. Simply, our emotions are a response to our attempts to do things in life that are vitally important to us. This, of course, is the basis of the realm of the emotions and how they relate to True Acting. When you make an authentic attempt to accomplish something that is actually meaningful to you, it has an impact on you that is out of your control. And that’s what we want! This way, you are not trying to do the emotion, it’s doing you.

To be nobody but yourself in a world doing its best to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle any human can ever fight and never stop fighting.

—e. e. cummings


A very important thing to adhere to when on the set is to not talk about how you work—just do the work.

I know who I am and who I may be, if I choose.

—Miguel de Cervantes


At the first read-through of the play, many directors will encourage the cast to act the parts from day one and to give fully realized performances immediately. Of course, this is impossible. And most actors will comply, indicating, pretending and faking their way through the read-through.

Why do these directors do this? Because they have no understanding of the actor’s process and are terrified that if the cast is not brilliant from the first rehearsal, the production will be a disaster. Here’s the tip. At the first read-through, do not cave in to the pressure all around you to perform; stay simple and take the time you need in rehearsals to do the real work that needs to be done.

Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.

—Albert Einstein


In musical theater, the song must be an attempt to accomplish something vital and specific. And the need to accomplish it must be so important that there is nothing left to do but to sing it out! This dynamic is missing in many musical-theater productions, but when it is present, it takes your breath away.

The most essential factor is persistence—the determination never to allow your energy or enthusiasm to be dampened by the discouragement that must inevitably come.

—James Whitcomb


From Playing Ball on Running Water, by David K. Reynolds, the three fundamental principles: Accept your feelings, know your purpose, and do what needs doing.

I want you to be everything that’s you, deep at the center of your being.



It’s not the words you say, it’s the music you play.

We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.

—Ray Bradbury


Acting is an act of creation and, like all acts of creation, it is ultimately a mystery. The True Actor has worked relentlessly to become strong, willing and able to allow that which is miraculous to occur.

The greatest gift is a portion of thyself.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson


In life, it is easy to fall in to that sleep state called living an assumption. But True Actors know that one must never assume anything, because in every moment, anything is possible.

Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.

—Lao Tzu


In life, most people expend a great amount of energy trying to control things that they have no control over. True Actors have learned that onstage, just like in life, there is only one thing that they actually have the ability to control. What is it? It is what they do. And they willingly, and joyfully, give up control over everything else.

Do you have patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?

—Lao Tzu


Here is a valuable quote: The greatest gift we can give to another is the quality of our attention. This is a key to healthy and fulfilling relationships in our lives, so of course it is a basic and vital tenet of True Acting.

It is ever the invisible that is the object of our profoundest worship. With the lover it is not the seen but the unseen that he muses upon.

—Christian Nestell Bovee


You are driving on the highway. Suddenly, the driver of the car in front of you hits his breaks. Instantly, without any thought, you check over your right shoulder, see that the lane to the right is clear, swerve into the right lane, hit the gas pedal, speed past the crazy driver, look over your left shoulder and see that the crazy driver is behind you, steer back into your original lane, and then resume your normal speed. This is called adjusting to what is actually happening as it is happening. In life we do this all the time. Yet it is quite rare on the stage. Why? Let’s continue with the highway analogy …

When you drive on the highway, do you drive the car based on how the traffic was yesterday? No—that would be silly. You drive the car based on what the traffic condition is right now. Unfortunately, many actors drive their car based on how the traffic was yesterday--meaning they try to reproduce what worked at the first read-through, or they use moves that they rehearsed at home in front of the mirror. This is why a lot of theater is so lifeless and why, if you look around at the audience, you will see many people who have literally gone to sleep or are busy texting their sisters! (And these people sleeping and texting during the play will be the first to jump to their feet to give a standing ovation at the curtain call.)

True Acting is an art of presence, meaning the life of your acting is in working with the truth of the moment right now and what is actually happening right now. So, clearly, adjusting to what is actually happening as it is happening is a major ingredient in our craft.

The artist who aims at perfection in everything achieves it in nothing.

—Eugène Delacroix


Due to the urgent nature of this acting value, I am continuing with the word adjusting. When you watch amazing championship Ping-Pong players hitting the ball back and forth at a hundred miles an hour, do you imagine that it is possible for them to think about where to place the paddle? Of course not! If they did, the ball would go right by them. There’s no time to think. So, to be effective, Ping-Pong players have refined their skills to the point where they are in continual, moment-by-moment adjustment to the opponent and to the continually changing path of the ball, and always without any thought whatsoever.

As actors, we don’t have a table and ball. What we have are the infinite variety of subtle new things that are happening in our partners’ behavior every night onstage, and these, too, are coming at us at a hundred miles an hour. True Actors, just like Ping-Pong players, after rigorous years of work on their craft, have claimed the ability to adjust instantly, spontaneously, and organically to everything the partner is dishing up to them, in every moment.

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

—Viktor E. Frankl


Sanford Meisner called it the reality of doing. When you do something, you must

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