What books should actors read?

A handbook for aspiring and professional actors, their directors, dramaturges, critics and viewers.

"The actor is driven by the irrepressible desire to ceaselessly transform into other people in order to ultimately discover himself in others."

Max Reinhardt aptly described it, the actor's desire to transform, the dream of being on stage and making the audience believe in his role. A dream job, but what skills do I need to become an actor? How do I apply to an acting school and what do I learn there? In this book, well-known teachers from state drama schools convey the basics of the profession and explain all aspects of training. The volume is supplemented by an extensive appendix with information on admission, the course of training and the contact details of the state drama schools.

When Max Reinhardt founded the German Theater's drama school in 1905, this first professional German drama school was viewed with great suspicion. Two questions were asked of its founder and the teachers: “Is there an art that can be taught whose essence lies in feeling? You have talent or none. What for to learn? ”And the opposite assertion was asked with a similar urgency as a question:“ Doesn't the lesson that smooths, divides, dissects, as if it wanted to count the stamens, the pollen, rob the charm of chaste impartiality? Does the teacher not take more than he is able to give? "(1)
Both fears accompany training at art colleges to the present day. If there is a common answer to this, it is probably: The best school cannot achieve anything without talent, but it can help to discover and develop the talents. The second fear is that bad teachers can confuse and spill a lot in the budding actor. The numerous young people who take the ox tour every year through the nineteen German-speaking drama schools can report on this. And the teachers in the schools, who deal with the large crowd of enthusiastic young people to find out the few to whom they can offer one of their scarce study places, may sometimes despair. Too often, obviously talented players are so impaired by years of experience in amateur theater groups or the preparation of self-appointed acting teachers that a recording seems questionable.
The actor is both an artist and an instrument. Every experience he makes during a rehearsal or during a performance digs into his consciousness and changes his game. He saves every effect he has achieved in front of an audience as a possible variation of his ability to express himself. Reinhardt's impulse to invent a drama school in order to train sufficiently qualified young talent for his newly founded German Theater knows that actors are very irritable. The seduction through the quick success as a comic, pathetic or bizarre figure, the easy play with external quirks and imitated effects hindered him in his development of the theater. He shared with Stanislawski the longing to be able to form an ensemble of actors who are coordinated with one another and with one another.
What counts as a good drama changes over the years not only the clothes, but even more so the playing styles. The establishment of drama schools tries to find an acting answer to the demands of realistic and naturalistic drama. To this day, realistic acting is the partly hidden, partly obvious basis of the training. The second major renewal of drama through the epic theater has meanwhile also become an integral part of the training. Newer trends such as those emanating from performance and post-drama are being integrated on a trial basis and selectively. The volume offers an overview of the various epochs and specialty craftsmanship Lessons 3 acting theory.
In this volume, "Acting Training", the current training is explained in five chapters. For this purpose, teachers from the various state drama schools have tried to present their lessons. This enables an insight into the diversity of the methodological approaches as well as an overview of the teaching content.
For learning a “techne”, as the arts were called in ancient Greek, it is still true that only concentration on a technical possibility and sufficient practice of this technique promises success. If you want to learn to play the piano, the hint that the synthesizer can do a lot on its own and that you don't have to spend so much time on the fluency of your fingers is of little use. It is also of no use if a different instrument is to be learned every day. Due to the current diversity of theater aesthetics, however, the individual acting student finds himself in precisely this situation. It is very difficult, especially as a beginner, to recognize the individual acting techniques that can be learned within this simultaneity of styles and techniques.
The drama schools and their teachers are an essential aid for orientation. All at once cannot be learned. Useful portions make for a successful training. In the determination of these teaching units lies the great dissent between theater studies and drama schools, which are accused of simplifying the great complexity of the theater through their exercises. What is being ignored by theater studies here is the fact that learning an art is different from the scientific analysis of it. The artist has to can, it is not enough just to do it knowledge. (2)
The way in which the learning content is determined and taught in a comprehensible manner determines the quality of the training. This should prepare for the diverse demands that the profession then places on the actor. In the daily practice of rehearsals and performances, he needs his artistic intuition in order to be able to recognize what would make sense of his craft and what would be wrong in the context of the staging. Insisting on the skills learned from school is just as inartistic as unconditional surrender to the will to direct. Only professional experience can find the right level here. However, a prerequisite for this is in any case a good education, which enables the actor to act professionally and to be able to reflect on his art.
In the appendix, all information is collected that is required to be able to apply to the state schools. The number of annual applicants far exceeds the number of study places. Perseverance and good preparation are necessary. The volumes Lessons 3 acting theory and Lessons 4 acting training want to contribute to orientation.

(1) Berthold Held: "The education of the actor", in: Max Reinhardt in Berlin, ed. by Knut Boeser and Renata Votková, Berlin 1984, p. 161.
(2) See also the conversation "Actors are professional people", in: Jens Roselt and Christel Weiler (eds.): Acting today, Bielefeld 2011.

Bernd Stegemann
Berlin in October 2010

page 12

"Acting? - a breadless, untidy art "

For entrance exams at state drama schools

by Franziska Kötz

Preliminary exercises and improvisations

by Bernd Stegemann
Page 20

"Actor's touchstone"

Improvising between rehearsal and performance

by Annemarie Matzke
Page 35

Two ways of playing

Where one is playing, the other believes that he is just playing it

by Robert Schuster
Page 57

Theater play flow

Find a serious play attitude

by Dietmar Sachser
Page 70

The scene study

by Bernd Stegemann
Page 80

Take it right now!

Thoughts on studying scenes at the Mozarteum University in Salzburg

by Christoph Lepschy, Kai Ohrem and Helmut Zhuber
Page 96

Until everything becomes clear

The scene studies at the University of Music and Theater in Hanover

by Titus Georgi
Page 106

Enduring yourself, that's the hardest part

Klaus Zehelein and Jochen Schölch (Munich) in conversation with Bernd Stegemann and Nicole Gronemeyer

by Nicole Gronemeyer, Jochen Schölch, Klaus Zehelein and Bernd Stegemann
Page 123

Acting works through what you can't do

Veit Schubert (Berlin) in conversation with Bernd Stegemann

by Bernd Stegemann and Veit Schubert
Page 135

Acting is an acting reaction to the partner

Eckhard Winkhaus (Munich) in conversation with Bernd Stegemann

by Bernd Stegemann and Eckhard Winkhaus
Page 146

Gestural speaking

The speaker education training for acting students at the Academy for Dramatic Art "Ernst Busch"

by Viola Schmidt
Page 158

Forming forms, destroying forms

Comments on new paths in acting training

by Martin Gruber
Page 169

Unruly human - conquerable body?

Acrobatics, juggling and stage fighting in acting training

by Ulfried Kirschhofer
Page 189

Expansion of the play areas

The actor wants to be someone else (& not a machine)

by Michael Börgerding
Page 208

Text, presentation, institution

The benefits and disadvantages of theory for acting training

by Marion Tiedtke
Page 217

From the inside to the outside

Hidden ideologies in the training of the actor

by Philipp Hauß
Page 228

The amateur excess

Laypeople on the stage

by Jens Roselt
Page 245


"Ernst Busch" Academy of Dramatic Arts

Page 258


University of the Arts

Page 263


College of the Arts

Page 266


Folkwang University of the Arts

Page 271

Frankfurt am Main

University of Music and Performing Arts

Page 274


University of Music and Performing Arts

Page 277


University of Music and Theater

Page 280


University of Music and Theater

Page 283


University of Music and Theater "Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy"

Page 287


Anton Bruckner Private University

Page 289


Academy for Performing Arts Baden-Württemberg

Page 293


Bavarian Theater Academy August Everding

Page 296


Otto Falckenberg School

Page 300


University of Film and Television "Konrad Wolf"

Page 303


University of Music and Theater

Page 305


Mozarteum University

Page 308


State University for Music and Performing Arts

Page 310


Max Reinhardt Seminar

Page 314


Zurich University of the Arts

Page 318
"A practical book that guides prospective students, well done."Frankfurter Rundschau