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The Actor's Art and Craft


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Table of Contents

Foreward by David Mamet


Bill's Class

ONE - Begin Again - Empty Your Cup

TWO - The First Exercise - Did You Hear What He Said?

THREE - Repition Continues - Did You Really Hear What He Really Said?

FOUR - Developing Concentration

FIVE - How to Justify Absolutely Anything

SIX - Don't Gird Yourself to Act; Open Yourself to Receive

SEVEN - Objectives and Expectations: Be Careful What You Want

EIGHT - Action Problems: Awaken Your Inner Criminal

NINE - Scene Work: Private Conversations - Approach the Text and Pick Up Your Impulses

TEN - Farewell to Repition: Don't Do Anything Unless Something Happens to Make You Do It

ELEVEN - Daydreams, Fantasies, and Your Inner Life: Emotional Preparation

TWELVE - Relationships: I Know He's Your Brother, but Who Is He Really?

THIRTEEN - The Domestic Exercise: How Are Things At Home?

FOURTEEN - The Second Round of Scene Work: Go Deeper into the Text

FIFTEEN - Final Questions: It's a Wrap. Now Where Do We Go from Here?


About the Author

William Esper was a graduate of Western Reserve University and the Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theatre in New York City. Bill trained as both actor and teacher under Sanford Meisner. Bill and Sandy worked closely together for 17 years, during which time Bill served as Associate Director of the Playhouses's Acting Department (1973-1976). Bill founded the William Esper Studio in 1965 and the Professional Actor Training Program at Rutgers University's Mason Gross School of the Arts in 1977. These two schools are renowned for routinely contributing actors of the highest quality to the International stage and screen. Bill died in 2019 at age 86.

Damon DiMarco
earned his M.F.A. from the Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts under Bill Esper's tutelage. He acts professionally on stage, screen, and TV, and teaches at Drew University. Damon's other books include, Tower Stories: an Oral History of 9/11; Heart of War: Soldiers' Voices from the Front Lines of Iraq; and My Two Chinas: The Memoir of a Chinese Counterrevolutionary with Baiqiao Tang, which features a foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.


"Utterly inspirational. . . . The best book on the craft of acting that I have ever read." --Mary Steenburgen

"As far as I'm concerned, there is only way to learn the craft of acting, and that is through the Meisner technique. And there is only one person to learn that technique from, and that is William Esper." --Patricia Heaton

"The essence of this book is like William Esper himself: kind/clear, caring/generous, passionate/graceful, brilliant/profound. Inspiring. Invaluable." --Jeff Goldblum

"A veritable magnum opus on acting from a Master Teacher." --Olympia Dukakis

"Working with Bill Esper was an inspiring and unforgettable experience. . . . Every serious actor who dreams of becoming a first-rate artist must read this book!" --Calista Flockhart

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