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By Melissa Bruder, Lee Michael Cohn, Madeleine Olnek, Nathaniel Pollack, Robert Previtio, Scott Zigler, David Mamet

6 operating actors describe their equipment and philosophies of the theater. All have labored with playwright David Mamet on the Goodman Theater in Chicago.

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Extra resources for A Practical Handbook for the Actor

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The preparation is the work the actor does with the script to find the action of a given scene (see chapters 1 and 2, “Physical Action” and “Analyzing a Scene”). The improvisation is the act of impulsively choosing from moment to moment how to do that action, and these choices are based on what is going on in the other actors in the scene at that instant (see chapter 3, “The Truth of the Moment”). This may sound simple, but there is nothing easy about finding a strong, playable action for a scene, nor is it easy to see what is going on in another person and to act on those observations impulsively.

We guarantee that any scene can be broken down into playable action by this method (see appendix B). PETE: Your outfit is lovely today. HARRIET: Do you like it? I thought you would. PETE: Must have cost you a pretty penny. HARRIET: Wasn’t cheap. You look nice too. PETE: Thanks. Payday’ll do it to you. HARRIET: Mn-hmm. Always buy a little something to make me feel good. PETE: The boss held my check back, you know. HARRIET: Poor thing! Why? PETE: Er, trouble with serial numbers or something—I don’t know.

The theatre may now be the only place in society where people can go to hear the truth. Technique Outline Technique is a knowledge of the tools that may be used for a certain craft and an understanding of how to apply those tools. In carpentry, the carpenter first learns what the tools of his craft are and then how to use those tools to build things. Similarly, the actor must learn what the tools at his disposal are and then how he can utilize these tools in doing a play. This knowledge is his technique.

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