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Drama: An Actor's Education

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  1,015 ratings  ·  242 reviews
Through the vivid stories in "Drama", John Lithgow shares a backstage history of his struggle, crisis, and discovery, and the scenes of his early life and career that took place before he became a nationally-known star. Above all, "Drama" is a tribute to the most important influence in John Lithgow's life: his father, Arthur Lithgow. An actor, director, producer, and great ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published September 27th 2011 by Harper
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Jan 30, 2013 Jim rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jim by: Joy H.
If I knew anything about acting or plays, I might give this 5 stars. Maybe I should anyway since I have no interest in either & yet really enjoyed this autobiography that is full of both.

How did he do that?!!!

Part of it was his voice. It's great for an audio book, but mostly Lithgow was amazingly honest - not brutally, though. There wasn't anything shocking or particularly horrible, just a pretty typical man who didn't always measure up to his own standards, but still managed to make a goo
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
John Lithgow had no intention of becoming an actor. What he wanted most was to be an artist. He pursued that path with rigor, while participating in theater productions just for the fun of it. One night after a particularly fine performance, he was seduced by the roar of the crowd. That adulation from the audience was more than he could resist, and it changed his life plans. Art became an avocation, and acting became a full-time pursuit.

Lithgow writes well and generally keeps things moving quic
Book Him Danno
Every time I see John Lithgow in a real situation, like an interview or game show, I never fail to come away impressed about how genuinely nice he seems. That is why I was very excited to get this autobiography as soon as possible. So I went into this a little biased too really like this and I can say it met all my expectations.

This book should be handed out to every aspiring teenager who sees all the glittering lights and want s to be an actor. It will completely dispel the myth of overnight su
Upon picking up Lithgow’s memoir, I was surprised to find him, not only charming, but kind-hearted and caring. In the forward, Lithgow describes the difficulties of moving in with his parents after his father undergoes a difficult surgery, yet refuses to move to a retirement community. Finding the task of caring for his parents far more difficult than anticipated and with his father in a deep depression, Lithgow brings out the stories that his father had read to him as a child. And thus opens th ...more
I have always been intrigued by John Lithgow, but I truly was amazed at his versatility when I heard some of his performances of children's songs that he wrote. I grew up in a small town with one big celebrity - Pete Seeger, who is a master musical storyteller. John Lithgow can match him stride for stride with the songs he has performed/written for children. Anyway, I was curious when I saw this at the library, and I had been sort of casting about for something on CD to play in the car and I saw ...more
John Lithgow's telling of his life as he grew to be the actor we recognize was, at times poignant, very funny, and a surprise, but entertaining and interesting throughout. I'm not a big movie buff and have only seen a few of his movies, as well as the very funny TV series, but what I have seen was enough to know what a good actor he is—enough that seeing the audiobook at the library piqued my interest. He has led a long and venerable career that began on stage long before most of the world had t ...more
I would give this a *3.5* this is a memoir by John Lithgow. He talks a lot about his childhood growing up with a dad in the theater business. his father Arthur Lithgow arranged and put Plays on In Ohio and on the East Coast. Mostly Shakespeare. Mr. Lithgow moved a lot during his childhood because of his dad's line of work. It could be very difficult for him starting school in new towns. He also grew up watching his dad act and taking roles in his father's plays. He goes to Harvard, and even earn ...more
Joseph McBee
I don't typically read celebrity autobiographies. Frankly, I don't care to know that much about their private lives. I was drawn to this one though for two reasons:

First, I admire John Lithgow as an actor, not a celebrity (although he is one of those) but as an ACTOR. Secondly, this book claimed to be about how his life prepared him for his life in the performing arts. That idea fascinated me, and made me want to know more.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The context is the author's relationship
Leah K
Drama: An Actor's Education by John Lithgow

★ ★ ★

In many memoirs I read, one of my gripes is how little detail there is. Many seem to just skim through their lives. The opposite can be said about John Lithgow. Within the first 300 pages of his 316 pages book, he discusses the first 30 years of his 66 year life. He almost goes into too much detail. Last last 16 pages of sort of a skim of his more “recent years” - those being from 1980-now. So while interesting, I became bored with every tiny step
The John Lithgow we meet in DRAMA is pretty much the person I expected to meet. He comes across as experienced, proud of what he's accomplished, but not an egotist. He is honest about his own faults (especially as a husband during the first height of his career as a stage actor, and about how he didn't really understand the film industry at that point). He's open about his struggles as a child and teen (constantly being the new kid in town thanks to his father's various producing and directing a ...more
I have not read many memoirs by actors. Now that I've read "Drama: An Actor's Education" by John Lithgow, I'm wondering why not? I love theater and admire people who do it well; and now, I can also say I admire people who write well about their theatrical lives.

The Harvard-educated Lithgow is a smart person, but he uses a straightforward writing style so that flowery sentences don't get in the way of good stories. And he has lots of those. Can you imagine being a young student actor in England
Joy H.
_Drama: An Actor's Education_ (2011)by John Lithgow
Added 9/30/11
I first heard about this book from the New York Times Books Update, 9/30/11.
The NY Times review is at:
It says: "_Drama_ is a buoyant, heartwarming account of coming into one’s own."
It also says: "Lithgow ... is relentlessly likable."
I agree. I'm looking forward to reading this book.

Edit 1/22/13 :
I am currently listening to an audio version of this book, read by the author himself! WONDERFUL! L
Having read the memoirs of several respected actors whose books usually rate a 3.5 on a scale of 5, I was not expecting a lot from this memoir. However, I read a few reviews that made me give this one a try. It did not disappoint! I have cried( in the prologue, no less) and laughed, and hung on his stories with tension and dread and supreme interest. I listened to Lithgow read it to me, and I highly recommend this way of reading this particular book.
I was not particularly a fan of his, but I am
JG (The Introverted Reader)
In this memoir, Lithgow writes of how his early years shaped him as an actor, from his childhood, to his time at Harvard, to his studies in the UK as a Fulbright scholar, and on to his breakthrough on Broadway and film.

I truly enjoyed listening to Lithgow narrate his own personal history. I don't know how much of his work I've actually seen, but I do like his voice. He took my thoughts and feelings exactly where he wanted them to go. I was quiet and pensive as he spoke about the power of story i
Marie Segares
Drama: An Actor's Education is John Lithgow's memoir of the first (third?) of his life, as well as a kind of celebration of his father. Lithgow shares memories from his childhood up until his success playing Roberta Muldoon in the World According to Garp. Although he shares many stories about his work and other actors, this isn't a "tell all" type of book. Instead, it is a thoughtful look at the power of storytelling, the role of acting and drama in our lives, and the mark left on him by his fat ...more
I suppose one might compare this memoir to a fine cigar. You fire it up and you're not sure immediately where it's going flavor-wise. Eventually it settles down and hopefully gets mellow, not bitter.

I enjoyed this (Lithgow's Drama: An Actor's Education) though I might have enjoyed it more if I were a psychiatrist and could have real insight into Lithgow's pathologies. Being of his generation (we might have even passed each other by on the Princeton campus, where I use to go to party with my bett
I had the good luck of seeing John Lithgow give a reading from his memoir, Drama: An Actor's Education, at Book Expo 2011. Lithgow is a likable, popular performer, and the event was packed. He gave a great reading that I really enjoyed. I didn't stick around afterward to get a signed copy of the book (and regretted it later). When it showed up on my Amazon Vine list (Amazon's invitation-only review program) I grabbed it right away. I'm glad I did.

Lithgow's writing is clean, revealing, honest, an
Somewhat pretentious but Lithgow LOVED his dad who must have been quite a character. Charmingly written. I would have liked a little more gossip. This would be a good read for any potential stage performers/directors/writers, etc. I didn't know much about Lithgow the man prior to reading this. I give him much credit that he takes full blame for his mistakes and seems to be rather modest. (I feel no actor is truly entirely modest.) Drags in some parts and goes on too long about some of his plays ...more
Antoinette Perez
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Russell Sanders
John Lithgow is as great a writer as he is an actor. He is literate and skillful. He builds his descriptions as he builds his characters. And "Drama: An Actor's Education" is just that. It is packed full of his insights, insights that any theater person will find interesting, entertaining, and helpful. But this book is an autobiography as well. Unlike most celebrity books, where the star takes each movie or play and spend three or four pages dissecting the experience, filling us in on all the ju ...more
Linda Howe Steiger
I picked up this bio primarily because I was curious to see what John had to say about his early couple of years in Akron, where his father directed a Shakespeare Festival at Stan Hewett Hall. I worked backstage the first year and John was in my class at school and one of my girlfriends had a crush on him. He was arty, tall, shy, good-looking and smart. A bit stand-offish I thought. Witty, serious. I doubt he recalls much about me and my friends, though he did once come to a party at my house. A ...more
I really enjoy listening to memoirs by the actors I love. It's a time for the author to drive back and forth to the city with me and tell me his/her story. John Lithgow's story is great for artists of all kinds to listen to, especially. Lithgow's voice is so memorable and his cadence/inflection is surprising and comforting at the same time. He tells the story of an artist who persevered and succeeded. It's also a story of finding peace with your past.

Lithgow grew up in the theatre and it claime
Norman Parker
I enjoyed this expose' of Mr. Lithgow's life. His candor is welcome and the narrative is compelling. I am thankful for people such as this that allow a peek into their lives. I do not imagine it is an easy thing to reveal one's foibles along with the successes of life, and Mr. Lithgow has shown his humility and strength to do so.
Jeff Yoak
This was a bit of a slow-starter, but I ended up really enjoying it. Lithgow writes the best sort of autobiography, focusing on the things he learned and that you might learn from instead of retelling of many events. The events he does relay in detail aren't necessarily the ones you might expect. There are three or four sentences mentioning Third Rock and Footloose never comes up. Unless you've really been paying attention or are a very big fan, probably the only thing that you've noticed of his ...more
Few of us give much thought to where our favorite movie and TV actors earned their chops. While it's true that many of them began their careers in TV or movies, it's just as true that many of them did not -- and instead, perfected their craft on the stage.

Fans of John Lithgow, and fans of the theatre will love this book. Written exactly the way he speaks, if you are familiar with the actor, you will hear his voice telling you the story as you read. There is no inside Hollywood gossip or dirt her
Kaleb Phillips
Both sad and uplifting, it is ultimately a human story about the trials of theatre and acting as a whole. His life has been an eventful one, and it is interesting to see who this amazing actor really is. I listened to the Audiobook, and as many people are probably aware of, John Lithgow has a very unique and entertaining voice to listen to. I think the only thing missing was more elaboration on his experiences with movies, as he only mentions a couple of very early ones, and only a passing menti ...more
Kilian Metcalf
An uncommonly humble and honest autobiography. He takes responsibility for the mistakes he has made and rejoices in the good parts. He doesn't try to gloss over his faults or overstate his virtues. I enjoyed it very much.
Things I learned from John Lithgow, If you don't have something nice to say about someone change there name and say it anyhow.

I loved the book.
Barbara Buehrle
It was all right.
In his own delightful words (you'll swear you hear his voice in every phrase), Lithgow paints a lovely portrait of his own life, his hectic childhood and frenetic youth, and in the process shows how he became the accomplished actor he is today.

It is unflinching, it is painful in parts, laugh-out-loud funny in others -- and through it all, the self-deprecating, gentle man shows himself in all his glory, and how it is he can play roles from the very true-to-life Roberta Muldoon in "The World Accor
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