Home > Categories > Books > Non-Fiction > Acting - and How to Survive It review
The first-ever book published in NZ about acting technique, 'Acting and How to Survive it' also takes in surviving and thriving in this most challenging and alluring of vocations.
Tailored to the New Zealand and Australian actor but with an international viewpoint across TV, film and theatre, here actor, coach and writer Peter Feeney has written an indispensable book for both the beginner and mid-career actor.
Here you'll find the nuts and bolts of technique, alongside insights into the head game, psychology, and tips on living an artistic life of resilience and integrity. Here is any actors' one-stop-shop, a book destined to become a must-have for Drama Schools and classes throughout Australasia, and the world.
Having worked as an 'extra' on a major film trilogy as well as two small indie productions, I would not claim to be 'an actor' or have a significant point of view, but I have hung out with big-name actors and watched them in action both in front of the camera and behind the scenes. This book gives any aspiring actor the very tools the 'big players' use by default - the ability to empathise and inhabit their character, understand and assess the motivations and desires, drives and defects that make the character real on screen.
Having followed Peter Feeney's career over the years, it is easy to see how he has put all the tips and tricks to great use to provide audiences with entertaining and engaging characters for close on 26 years since he first appeared on NZ's best launching platform for talent, Shortland Street, back in 1994. His trademark wry and dark humour has been refined over the years through his acting gigs and he has distilled a lot of the lessons learned through hard experience into 280-odd pages of treasure-packed learning - this fine volume. I was also pleased to see a few familiar names popping up throughout, people I have worked with or met through various work-related channels, and seeing their influence in the text added a second level of inspiration for me.
Some of the techniques advanced in this book will, at first glance, seem quite daunting for a novice actor, things such as 'speaking to your feelings of the moment, even and especially the negative ones' and many of the paired exercises where you have to interact on a deep level with a relative stranger to build a convincing on-screen rapport in a very short period of time. Opening one's self up to a stranger is something we are conditioned against in today's world, and yet how else do you make the audience believe the interaction and relationship is genuine, without first creating it? Sitting down over lunch with Viggo Mortenssen on the freezing slopes of Mount Doom (aka, a windy tent in the Whakapapa Ski Field parking lot on Mt Ruapehu) taught me that the very best actors are able to be open and honest wioth anyone at the drop of a hat, without going TMI and divulging personal information that was irrelevant to the emotional requirements of the role.
Would I buy this book for myself? Likely not... but that is more because I have no desire to be a front-line actor. I'm terrible at remembering lines and utterly devoid of the ability to improv a role. I like being an extra - we get the fun and thrill of being amongst the big players, without the stress or flubbing our lines. But I would, have and will encourage aspiring stars-to-be to grab a copy from Peter's website and absorb decades of wisdom in an easy-to-consume format that leads the resder from the basics to the advanced skills required to be a headline actor one day, in a smooth and easy progression from the front cover to the last page.
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