ON ACTING by Laurence Olivier


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A richly illustrated, laudable book, more about the spirit of acting than the nuts and bolts, by the world's most honored living actor. More absorbing as it goes along and becomes more personal, On Acting is not the manual many might hope for; it is something of a sequel to Olivier's well-received Confessions of an Actor but remains ""purely and simply about acting and about how I feel it has come about for me""--a stab at plain speech that needs editing. Read it for its many nuggets. Even Olivier-watchers who have not read his Confessions will find much of On Acting familiar lore, though it's good to have all these comments in one place for younger readers. Olivier first surveys the great Shakespearean actors and their styles, and later shows us his own way of creating a character: working from the outside in, and enjoying total unrestraint at rehearsal. Early in his career, while playing Sergius in Shaw's Arms and the Man, he was upbraided by director Tyrone Guthrie for obviously not loving nincompoop Sergius. "". . .[Fl or the rest of the run I began to love Sergius, and my whole performance seemed to get better and better."" Ever after, Olivier found it necessary to love the characters he played, even the most repulsive. He tells not only about creating his stage roles but also about directing his great Shakespearean movies and about making up his roles in films for Hitchcock and Cukor and others. He also has words to say about his teleplays, his filmed adaptations of Chekhov and Strindberg, and his characterizations in later movies (though much of this later stuff is covered in more detail in Confessions). He is very grateful that in midcareer he had the enormous luck of writing with brilliant postwar playwrights and became newly energized by the role of the tremendous vulgarian Archie Rice in John Osborne's The Entertainer. For all libraries.

Pub Date: Nov. 3rd, 1986
Publisher: Simon & Schuster