Acting

11 Books Every Actor Must Read in 2023

By Neeraj
May 3, 2018

If you’re an actor or aspire to be one, you know it’s important to keep reading. Reading expands your knowledge and worldview and can help you find new inspiration for your work. If you’re looking for inspiration, why not check out this list of eleven books that all actors should read? From biographies to self-help guides, these books will help you improve your craft and boost your career.

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A hobby for many and a passion for some, acting is one of the most exciting professions in the world. But, to be an actor, you must have more than just talent. You also need to be well-read. 

So, if you want to become a successful actor, add these reads to your list!

11 Books Every Actor Must Read

There are so many great books to read for actors it can be hard to know where to start. 

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Check out this list of eleven books that all actors should read. From biographies to self-help guides, these books will help you improve your craft and boost your career. 

Start reading!

  1. “The Creators” by Michael Chekhov
  2. “An Actor Prepares” by Constantin Stanislavski
  3. “Theatre of the Oppressed” by Augusto Boal
  4. “The Empty Space” by Peter Brook
  5. “Audition” by Michael Shurtleff
  6. “Brecht on Theatre” by Bertolt Brecht
  7. “Hamlet” (play) by William Shakespeare
  8. “Acting in Chicago” by Chris Agos
  9. “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” by Eugene O’Neill 
  10. “Freeing the Natural Voice” by Kristen Linklater
  11. “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller 

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“The Creators” by Michael Chekhov

Chekhov was a Russian theatre practitioner who profoundly influenced 20th-century acting. In this book, he explores the creative process. He offers insights into how actors can access their imagination and create believable characters.

“An Actor Prepares” by Constantin Stanislavski

This classic text is a must-read for any serious actor. Stanislavski was a groundbreaking director and teacher. In this book, he outlines his famous “System” of acting, which is still used by practitioners today.

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“Theatre of the Oppressed” by Augusto Boal

Boal was a Brazilian director and playwright who developed the technique of “forum theatre.” In this book, he discusses how theatre can be used as a tool for social change.

“The Empty Space” by Peter Brook

British director Brook argues in this influential work that theatre should be “dangerous.” He explores how actors and directors can create challenging and unforgettable work.

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“Audition” by Michael Shurtleff

While there are many books that purport to teach you how to ace an audition, one book in particular that every actor should read is “Audition” by Michael Shurtleff. In this book, Shurtleff lays out some simple but powerful principles that will help any actor succeed in an audition. 

From learning how to “read the room” to nailing the all-important callback, these principles are essential for any actor who wants to improve their chances of booking the role.

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“Brecht on Theatre” by Bertolt Brecht

While Stanislavski’s approach emphasizes realism, Brecht’s theories focus on alienation and estrangement. This book explores his unique approach to acting and how it can be used to create powerful and provocative theatre.

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“Hamlet” (play) by William Shakespeare

No list of essential acting books would be complete without Shakespeare’s most famous play. As Hamlet grapples with grief, betrayal, and murder, actors have the chance to explore some of the darkest corners of the human psyche.

Hamlet is a masterpiece of literature and enacts challenges like no other. Actors can develop their skills in text interpretation and physical performance by reading and performing this work.

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“Acting in Chicago” by Chris Agos

The book dives deep into acting and gives readers an insight that cannot be found anywhere else. Not only does it provide tips on how to improve your craft, but it also gives you an inside look at the industry itself. 

Through interviews with some of Chicago’s top actors, directors, and producers, Agos provides a comprehensive overview of what it takes to make it an actor in the city. 

In addition, he offers advice on how to avoid common pitfalls and navigate the often-treacherous waters of the acting world.

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“Long Day’s Journey Into Night” by Eugene O’Neill 

Widely considered to be Eugene O’Neill’s masterpiece, “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” is a bruising family drama that pulls no punches. The play is set over one day as the members of the Tyrone family rip open old wounds and expose their deepest secrets. As they do so, actors have the rare opportunity to create truly three-dimensional characters.

“Freeing the Natural Voice” by Kristen Linklater

In this book, Linklater explores the link between the body and the voice and offers exercises and techniques to free up the vocal cords and produce a more natural sound. The book is divided into three sections: “The Touch of Sound,” “The Resonating Ladder,” and “The Link to Text and Acting.” 

In each section, Linklater provides practical exercises that actors can use to improve their vocal technique. In addition, she includes case studies and interviews with professional actors who have used her methods to great success.

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“Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller 

Another classic from Arthur Miller, “Death of a Salesman” is a devastating study of the American dream gone wrong. The play follows the downward spiral of Willy Loman, a man who has sacrificed everything in pursuit of success. 

As Willy sinks lower and lower, actors can take audiences on an emotionally charged journey.

Conclusion

Every actor knows that to be successful, they must be well-rounded. This means not only being able to memorize lines and hit marks but also having a deep understanding of the craft. One way to achieve this is by reading as much as possible. 

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The books on this list will help you to become a better actor and understand the art of storytelling. Whether you are just starting out in your acting career or looking for ways to improve, these books can help. 

Reading is one of the best ways to learn and grow as an actor, so make sure to add these titles to your reading list today!

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