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Morning Coffee-Bk Review on “The Science of Acting”

Book Review written by Fran Lewis

The Science of Acting

By Sam Kogan Edited by Helen Kogan

I never really want to become an actress nor do I want to get up on stage and perform. However, I am a radio show talk host and a writer and many of the lessons, ideas and strategies in The Science of Acting by author Sam Kogan can help anyone enhance not only their acting skills but writing too. I am going to review this book based on what areas I found helpful, insightful and useful to make me a better writer, author and to create the kind of characters and plot that would be great if someone decided to make my books into a movie.

The Science of Acting is a great resource for anyone who wants to learn the craft and become an actor/actress in the theater, television or movies. The author Sam Kogan puts much of himself into this book by taking the student or reader on his own journey through acting schools, tryouts for parts and teaching experiences that helped his students and him learn the craft in an interesting and meaningful manner. The fourteen chapters focus on many aspects that not only can be applied to acting but to becoming a better writer, playwright or screenwriter. This book will help anyone in real life who needs to build confidence when going for an interview, speaking in front of large audiences and as I do, host a regular radio show.

The book is divided into three sections. The first is foundations which helps the reader and the learner understand the building blocks and how they work in order to become a better actor/actress or in my case writer. This section or part includes vital information on what are complexes, awareness and events. These are just some of the areas that the author touches on in this part. However, awareness seems to be the one that intertwines the other two and each one builds on the precious until you get to the meat of the book or the Qualities of a Good Actor, or part 2. The final section is devoted to Working on the Script which provides a truly hands on experience for the writer, actor or reviewer to apply all of the skills and building blocks into creating a better script, book or screenplay.

I did mention awareness, which the author states, is the ability to see one’s own thinking. I think this term says it all. If you can understand what your thoughts are and see both your visible and invisible thoughts and how they are unique and special to the character. As I read this chapter I began to formulate in my mind how I might improve the characters in my children’s books and start thinking about what their visible and invisible thoughts would be and if they were portrayed on a television show what their thoughts would be that should belong to them and not the writer. Continuing in that same chapter is the model of awareness that helps the writer create the character. Chronologically, what follows is the chapter titled Events which would help the character enact his/her thoughts and better understand exactly what an event really is. Events are anything that intensifies our thinking. An event does is not something in the physical world it is intensified by the happening which is a change in the physical world. There are many ways to understand events, awareness and character development that are discussed in this book along with numerous short stories and examples to better illustrate how these elements work. The chapter that I am going to use as resource is the one entitled Mindprint which really helps the actor or writer learn how to help develop a better character and make that character come alive for on paper and in the theater.

Part Two of the book discusses the Qualities of an Actor and the Third takes the actor and the writer through the crucial steps to actually creating, writing and performing a script. All of the qualities discussed that the author feels make up a good and talented actor intertwine into one in order to come out with the right formula. Imagination is one of the main tools for creating a believable and good character. Imagine being able to create a character’s past, present and future and placing yourself imagining yourself within and one and the same with this character. The author discusses many elements of a talented actor that can not only be incorporated in a play, or show but when a person needs to build confidence when going for a new job, you play the role, sit and think about the questions you might be asked to answer and hopefully predict or be ready for the unknown ones that might come. Finally, the last part of the book as I stated pulls it all together and helps the writer, author, screenwriter or journalist create a better and better script. To understand how the Science of Acting works and how you can use it in your writing and everyday life you need to read this book and use it as a resource, to create your perfect script. I would say that you should read each chapter starting with complexes and until you reach the final section and create your own examples of each and see how they measure up to those in the book. Do not read the entire book once. Give yourself a chance to incorporate and understand each of the chapters and how they will help you in your writing. Finally, use the glossary of terms in the back as a reference to help you remember the different meanings of the word actions, the ten steps that are summarized on pages 245-246 and the glossary of definitions that defines the important elements in each chapter.

Using this book I hope to create better characters for my next two children’s books and for the non-fiction book I plan to write based on a true story. Well written, great examples, interesting stories that provide true to life experiences for the reader to understand, Sam Kogan’s voice if truly heard in every story he relates about his own experiences, his examples and more.

I recommend that anyone who is thinking about a career in acting, writing or even public speaking read this book and learn the true Science of Acting from a great actor and writer.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, April 22nd, 2010 at 7:09 pm and is filed under Industry News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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