Improvising Out Loud: My Life Teaching Hollywood How to Act by Jeff Corey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Every once in a while I decide to read something useful. Like Improvising Out Loud, due to my sporadic interest in acting and amateur theatre. Okay, I have a bunch of drama books that I should get round to reading... which I will get round to one day, after I read the bunch of writing books that I should get round to reading...
Anyway, Improvising is Jeff Corey's fascinating (mostly) memoir .
Part I: How to Live, Corey's memoir, is mostly easy reading and accessible to all. Corey's story is captivating as well as relevant, reminiscing about the good old days which segue into the bad old days, and finally into the better new days of film in America. Blacklisted from acting jobs in the 1950s after being offered up as a scapegoat during the HUAC's witch hunt for communists, Corey pressed on, refusing to name names, leave America or his love for acting. Instead, he diverted his energies into teaching acting, gathering luminous students, including James Dean, Kirk Douglas, Jane Fonda, Rob Reiner, Jack Nicholson, and Leonard Nimoy. He is frank and open, talking about his experiences as a photographer during World War II, his bitterness at the blacklist and how it changed his life and the lives of countless other hapless actors, the unfairness of the House Un-American Activities Committee, as well as the hope and the excitement of working on stage and in the burgeoning American film industry.
Part II: How to Act rambles on about different acting techniques, styles, theory, and ideologies. Corey offers fascinating thoughts about acting, improvisation, and text which might need some prior knowledge of acting (at least theoretically, if not practically), but is still pretty much accessible to the layman. I'd rather like to re-read this part and chew over some of the thoughts here (I highlighted a bunch of quotes in this section).
The final part, Part 3: Etudes - The Acting Exercises, is the most technical part of the book and is probably only relevant to actors & acting teachers themselves. I have to admit, I skimmed over parts of this.
All in all, I'd recommend this to film & acting students as well as anyone who'd like an insight into acting.
Note: I received a free digital ARC of this book for review via Edelweiss.
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