BOOK REVIEW PLAYING: AN INTRODUCTION TO ACTING. By Paul Kuritz. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1982; pp. xi -s260. $16.95.Paul Kuritiz’s book is a welcome and needed addition to the area of fundamentals of acting texts. Designed primarily for the undergraduate in the introductory acting course, Playing: An Introduction to Acting is logically divided into four parts. There is also an appendix which includes open scenes, open pantomimes, articulation exercises, the international phonetic alphabet, and a guide to pronunciation.The authorâ€™s presentation is like a good lecture on acting. He does not address his readers as experienced or professional actors. However, his style is neither pedantic nor condescending, and his frequent use of illustrations and documentation make this work a worthwhile addition to a field too long neglected by the publishers of theatre texts.The first part considers how one plays himself in everyday life, Thus, playing in the text and in the title has a dual meaning for Kuritz and suggests â€˜a fundamental link between â€˜play in everyday life and the process of â€˜actingâ€™ on the stage.â€™ This idea of play is illustrated through the psychological qualities of both child and actor whose actions reveal character. Because the child is uninhibited, his or her actions reveal character or personality. Hence, the actor must develop the requisite playing qualities of relaxation, concentration, justification, and imagination. Sufficient exercises are provided for development of each of these qualities.Chapters on the psychological and physical player thoroughly explore the circumstances necessary for unifying the physical and psychological qualities needed to obtain truth in playing. Stanislavskian principles are woven into the text, Further supplementing Kuritzâ€™s comments are those of the most outstanding teachers of acting whose tenets are cited and documented throughout the work.One of the authorâ€™s most compelling bits of advice for effective and truthful physical actions is merely to have the actor attend to what he is doing rather than to what he should be doing. This is not unlike the methodology currently employed successfully by tennis and ski instructors. If the actor knows his craft effective movement will follow. In other words, he should feel the action, not think about it, for thinking about what he is doing will merely increase tension. The section on voice production, though by no means all inclusive, is sufficient for an introductory course and further exercises are provided In the appendix.
The section on play analysis includes such items as â€˜Marking the Text” and contains important queslions which can help the actor to analyze his role. lCuritz also manages to put the researching of a role into its proper perspective without becoming too technical for the neophyte actor. Structural analysis in the Aristotelian sense is also discussed. But here the author projects the actor as a creative artist in interpreting his role and arriving at his subtext.
Stanislavskiâ€™s Creating a Role is summarized, analyzed, and deftly utilized in scenes from The Gtrzcs Menagerie. These serve as cogent paradigms for actIng students in analyzing any role. Again, sufficient and clear-cut examples are provided.
In his treatment of â€˜Understanding the Play,â€™ Kuritz provides insights of theatrical analysis by dealing with several important issues. The first of these is the character as actor. Thus, the character performs for two audiencesâ€” one of which is on stage. It is the actorsâ€™ task to be convincing to both audiences. And he too must be a convincing audience. For every action there must be a reaction. In the study of psychological character relevant exercises are provided to determine objectives for the character.
One sage piece of advice Kuritz gives for understanding the character is for the actor not to editorialize about his objectives but merely to understand the reasons for them. Here he cites Albert Bermelâ€™s “Spokesman Fallacy,” The section on external technique examines vocal score, poetic character, verse, and dialect.
Kuritz concludes his text with a study of style and the way it is affected by director, circumstances of action, and playing space. There is also the obligatory glossary of stage terms and a chapter on working in the theatre, including tips on auditioning, rehearsals, and actorâ€™s ethics.
If the book has a fault, it is that the author has covered too muchâ€”if that is possible.
ROBERT A. ADUBATO
Essex County College
from THEATRE JOURNAL 1983
Your book (Playing, an into to acting) is off the chizzle.Â I use them all the time with my professional team in