Most people have heard of the major acting techniques, such as Stanislavsky, Meisner, Strasberg, Adler, LeCoq etc. These techniques have considerable decades of practise to reach the public consciousness.
However, newer small techniques take their time to reach everyone - particularly those like Practical Aesthetics, which arguably up-ends the philosophy of most acting techniques.
Nonetheless, interest in Practical Aesthetics is keen and constant. I thought in this blog, I would find a simple way to share with you the current available material on Practical Aesthetics that has been published and can be found on Amazon.
A Practical Handbook for the Actor - By Melissa Bruder, et Al. The first book on Practical Aesthetics, Mamet reportedly asked the authors who was feeling ‘summery’, and their answer lead them to write this ‘summary’ of the acting technique of Practical Aesthetics. It’s a slim volume which is more philosophy and scene analysis than anything else, but it remains the original Practical Aesthetics book.
True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actorby David Mamet - Mamet scandalised the acting work with his irreverent, disrespectful and controversial views on acting. This is a Manifesto of the practitioners of Practical Aesthetics. It is hard to learn how to act from True and False, but it gives you the philosophy of Practical Aesthetics, at its most extremist.
The Monologue Audition by Karen Kohlhaas, a blow by blow method for approaching monologues that is heavily influenced by Karen’s background as an important member of the Atlantic Theater Company’s ensemble. There is more practical application of Practical Aesthetics in The Monologue Audition than in any of the books above.
Chapter 5 of A Field Guide to Actor Training by Laura Wayth - a whole chapter devoted to explaining to the uninitiated what Practical Aesthetics is and how it works and where you can try in the UK (clue, ACS), USA and Australia.
Chapter on Bill Macy in On Acting, edited by Mary Luckhurst and Chloe Veltman - A chapter about Macy’s acting career, but there are a few references about Practical Aesthetics that you may be interested in.
Chapter on Practical Aesthetics: an Overview by Robert Bella, in Handbook of Acting Techniques, edited by Arthur Bartow. A light hearted chapter on Practical Aesthetics by my teacher Robert Bella. A clear and concise explanation of Practical Aesthetics as an overview. Worth a read to get a bird’s eye view of the territory. This book is known in the USA as Training of the American Actor.
Chapter on Practical Aesthetics in The Great Acting Teachers and their Methods Volume 2 by Richard Brestoff - The first good critique of the technique of Practical Aesthetics, it is fair in its evaluation and explores areas that aren’t covered by other generalist opinions.
Chapter on Neil Pepe in Acting Now by Edward Vilga - about Pepe, but also includes some small snippets about Practical Aesthetics in general and the formation of the Atlantic Theater Company.
Truth in Action by Mark Westbrook - my book, it is the closest version of what we actually teach at Acting Coach Scotland, although we rebranded the technique, the Mindset Acting Technique a few years ago (we’re back with Practical Aesthetics again now) what I write is as pure to the spirit of Practical Aesthetics as I can be.
Teaching Practical Aesthetics by Troy Dobosiewic - due to be published in August 2019, this guide for acting teachers, coaches and actors looks to be the most comprehensive guide to this acting technique of Practical Aesthetics. Includes lesson plans and the integration of voice and movement, it is without doubt going to become THE go-to book on Practical Aesthetics.
Do you know of another book that explicitly deals with Practical Aesthetics? Please get in touch so that I can add it to the list!
Mark Westbrook is the Head Acting Coach at Acting Coach Scotland.