Other title by Stephen Book
A new technique for improvising performances with
scripted and memorized lines
The ability to improvise a skilled performance while speaking scripted and memorized lines is of paramount importance to actors working in today’s film and television productions, which often allow very little if any rehearsal time. Through his innovative Improvisation Technique, Stephen Book shows the actor how to create a spontaneous performance by applying improvisation to traditional script-acting for film, theater, and television.
Book on Acting begins with immediate training in how to improvise. Book’s fundamental principle of improvisation is “Acting is doing, and there is always more to do.” The actor learns what to do to keep himself in a spontaneous improvisational state.
This Improvisation Technique is then applied to exercises with scripted lines, developing sophisticated improvisation skills for enhancing character, emotions, conflict, and agreement, as well as improving the actor’s audition process. Also included is a unique process for breaking down scripted scenes into improvisation choices.
Book on Acting contains film and television scenes in which Book-coached actors, used his Improvisation Technique to create their performances. These scenes, showing the actors’ performance choices, demonstrate the use of Improvisation Technique in different genres of acting. Well known theater and film scenes are included, as well as scenes from such TV shows as Melrose Place, Star Trek: Voyager, L.A. Law, Frasier, and The Practice.
Book’s Improvisation Technique extends the work of Viola Spolin (author of Improvisation for the Theater). Book was Spolin’s student, assistant, representative, and her partner in the Spolin Theater Game Center in Hollywood, where he served as executive director and principal teacher in the 1970s.
“A very intelligent and highly skilled teacher of acting. Actors find him exciting to work with and get a great deal from his particular form of teaching.”
“I was a student in Stephen Book’s acting class during the three or so years he was writing this book, so I have experienced its riches first-hand. I know how much I gained, and I witnessed the growth of the other actors in the class. I still remember our first round of scene work and the remarkable transformation of each actor’s work after we did the First-Level Improvisations. It was a startling demonstration of the transforming power of the Improvisation Technique we were learning. And the best was yet to come. I was 75 when I began the class, a professional actor for 50 years. I finished not long after I turned 79, my craft immeasurably enriched and strengthened, with access to emotional resources I did not realize I had within me. As I get ready to start rehearsals for a new play, I have a fresh sense of myself in the work I have been doing my whole professional life. Priceless!”
—William Schallert, President, Screen Actors Guild (1979-81)