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True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor
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True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor

3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,406 Ratings  ·  113 Reviews
Invent nothing, deny nothing, speak up, stand up, stay out of school. With these words, one of our most brilliantly iconoclastic playwrights takes on the art of profession of acting, in a book that is as shocking as it is practical, as witty as it is instructive, and as irreverent as it is inspiring.
Acting schools, “interpretation,” “sense memory,” “The Method”—David Mame
ebook, 144 pages
Published September 7th 2011 by Vintage (first published 1997)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,278)
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Mar 08, 2008 Nicholas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the best book ever written about anything. Every sentence makes my brain have sex with itself.
Isabella Tugman
Oct 02, 2011 Isabella Tugman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
MUST READ FOR ACTORS! Holy cow, what an incredible book. After studying acting my entire life, this is the first time I've read Mamet's philosophy on the subject. Cutting through all the bs of acting training and methods, he eloquently states the purpose of the actor.

I collect quotes, and in almost every paragraph of this book, I found myself wanting to write down his words. Finally I gave up on writing, and just decided that this will just have to be a book that I read over and over again.
Jul 12, 2011 Taylewd rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Imagine an Enlightenment thinker, sitting on his drawing room chair sometime in the 18th century, wets his pants so hard at the idea of the mind-body dichotomy he enters a time loop directly into post-Stanislavski America, somehow becoming a playwright in the process.

He would be David Mamet, and this would be his book on acting.

I think this is a good book to read for actors as a cautionary tale on the poorer attempts at Method Acting. Specifically the part about "Playing for Time" is so useful.
Mar 20, 2009 Hunter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A stark, uncompromising, incendiary book on the noble legacy of acting.

Some reviews here have interpreted Mamet's bluntness as a disgust or disrespect for acting. Read a little closer... It is the layers of window-dressing, institutionalism, hierarchy, pretension, and disingenuous devotion to the Method that Mamet takes issue with... anything and everything that suffocates the true joy, bravery, and life-affirming challenges of the acting itself.

I can't say with certainty I'd recommend this as t
Jun 24, 2007 Ryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: disaffected college students
here, mamet offers his view and interpretation of what really good acting is, and it can be most effectively distilled as a quotation: "Invent nothing. Deny nothing." meaning that, if it's there in the text, don't hide it in any way, and don't go looking for any greater explanation or supposed-character-based topography than what is presented in the words you are given.

on first reading the book, i dismissed it with the thought: "well, of course he'd say that about acting: he's a playwright!"

it t
Aug 20, 2007 Erin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theatre
as an actor, i'm bothered - as a theatre historian - i'm amused
Jan 21, 2010 Nick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This has some really good thoughts on acting and being an artist. If only Mamet weren't so narrow-minded! He believes that his ideas are right--and that everyone else is wrong. And while I do believe that, for the most part, less is more for acting, especially on film, at the same time, there have so many wonderful, completely believable performances with actors acting "big." If you look at Mamet's films, you also have to be very skeptical of his advice considering most of the acting in his own ...more
Oct 16, 2007 Leta rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: theater people
Spencer Tracy used to say that the actor's job was to "know your lines and don't bump into the furniture" which David Mamet has managed to turn into a (slim) book-length rant against Method acting and drama schools. On the up side, Mamet rants very well (consider what he does for a living) but on the down side his belief that the playwright did all the work (this is repeated several times) and his "my way and only my way" absolutism are somewhat off-putting.

I am enjoying it though.
Bobby Bermea
Sep 30, 2015 Bobby Bermea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-the-boards
I pride myself on having friends who think differently than I do. Now, I exaggerate that. Most of my friends think differently than me up to a point but we basically agree on the fundamentals. However, generally I have friends who aren't afraid to disagree with me and who often even enjoy getting into a little donnybrook over art and ideas.

Enter David Mamet. He is definitely that friend. He's a little more bothersome because he's very accomplished and respected so he tends to come at everything
K.M. Soehnlein
Mamet is nothing if not a provocateur, and you'll probably read this having an ongoing argument in your head with him. He attacks just about every sacred tenet of the way plays are produced -- the Method, actors who research their characters, actors who attempt to interpret their lines, most acting schools, auditions, rehearsals, etc. There are times when you read this and think, He's absolutely right! And other times when you'll wonder, Does he even like the theater? He does. He just doesn't li ...more
Apr 10, 2008 Alyse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: every actor
Quite possibliy the best actor book I have ever read. Maybe I didn't pay enough attention in my BFA program, but I feel like I learned more reading this book that I did in my four years at school. I don't think the differences between what Mamet describes and Stanislovski's method are as big as Mamet would like them to be. They are both trying to get to the same end - honest performance - they are just going about it in different ways.

But what really matters is - none of it matters. It is not ab
Aug 27, 2008 Damon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must-read for actors. Brilliant in too many ways to list.

Picture Mamet walking alone through the Garden of Acting Wisdom.

Now picture all the statues of False Gods which occupy the Garden. They stand perched on plyths, cast in ridiculous postures designed to inspire cheap awe rather than to reveal any truth about form.

Finally? Picture Mamet swinging a massive fire axe. He knocks all the idols down. Cleaves them in half. Shatters them. Destroys them.

If you end up disagreeing with everything
Jan 01, 2014 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Again, Mamet discounts the value of any and all academic approaches to theater and theater making. Again it's refreshing to hear an irreverent and informed voice proclaim, without reservation or apology, that the best way to learn how to act is by doing, without books, classes, teachers; in short, by finding a way to be on stage, and working to truthfully communicate plays to audiences. Though I disagree with some of the writing, and I remain undecided about much of it, I continue to be inspired ...more
Genevieve Heinrich
Like most great "educational" books, this probably taught me as much about myself as it did about acting. It also left me with as many questions as it did answers—which, after all, is it's point. As it states in closing: "It is not a sign of ignorance not to know the answers. But there is great merit in facing the questions."

This book was difficult for me. I'm still not certain I "agree" with all of it. Although I love (and fear, and am challenged by) acting, I majored in English and am a wannab
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Jun 11, 2014 Staci rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
First it should probably be noted that Mamet is not an actor and says so himself, therefore one should take everything he says with a grain of salt. That being said, this book does not actually seem very good for actors or those who would like to be actors. Mamet, in his writing, doesn't even seem to like actors all that much. Rather he seems like a crotchety old curmudgeon of a screenwriter who has had to scoff at one too many fresh-faced wannabe actors who didn't know what they were doing. The ...more
May 15, 2013 Luca rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mamet sweeps you up in his ideas on performance and life in general in this compelling, to-the-point quasi-handbook to stage acting. While captivatingly written, his ideas at times seem to be based on the fact that you'd rather not contradict The Great Mamet as it's easy to poke holes in at least a few on a first readthrough.
Emily Fortuna
Mamet points out some perspectives that absolutely make sense for acting: things I agree with and some parts of the theatre world could probably benefit from being reminded of. HOWEVER, I also feel like he has willfully misinterpreted a lot of other approaches to acting (Stanislavsky, Meisner, etc), and he ridicules them for things that I don't think those acting philosophies were actually teaching. As I see it, when you get right down to it, Mamet and Meisner are after the same thing, and it fe ...more
Feb 22, 2015 Philipp rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1990s
True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor (1997)
David Mamet (1947- )
Nonfiction (127 pp.)
Anytime; stage and rehearsal studio

Instruction to be clear, direct, listen, respond, and perform understandable actions on stage; good acting is better than Great Acting.

Semi-Random Semi-Representative Sample: What does this talk of technique mean? It means we were so starved of anything enjoyable that we were reduced to enjoying our own ability to appreciate.
Bookstore Cat Sample: Invent nothing,
Jul 30, 2010 Caitlin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was so contradictory. he thought he was being unique but he was saying the method was wrong, and then told us what to actually do and IT WAS THE METHOD
Audrey Ahern
Dec 31, 2014 Audrey Ahern rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: acting
This book made me want to quit acting. I thought, "If everything I'm doing is a waste of time - years of training, text analysis, emotional investment - then what is the point?"
Mamet seems to have utter disregard for the actor and his craft (and the director for that matter). For him, theatre is all about the playwright, and one can feel his self-satisfaction oozing off the pages. I would recommend that any actor skip over this book in favor of A Practical Handbook for the Actor (written by Mame
Well, that explain's Mamet's directorial work. I like a few of the things said, but I don't trust him as a source of acting wisdom.
Aug 26, 2009 Ryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Necessary reading for any actor.
Mike Tracy
Jan 01, 2016 Mike Tracy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A small, heretical book about acting. Mamet has a real hard-on for all of the pretensions of high-art for the stage, film and acting in general. The art is in the text, read it, make yourself heard and understood, and leave-off of all the high-acting. Keep it simple and pure, and for god sakes, do not, repeat, do not go to acting college. His prose is spare, quick and rhythmic- an easy read, but also a bit hypnotic- the pleasure of the language sometimes causes whole sentences to go by where com ...more
Jacob Anderson
At first I was intrigued by how the writing style seems so similar to mine - the ideas are controversial and may seem pessimistic, but the person behind the thoughts doesn't intend them to be pessimistic. Then, after a lot of repetition, hypocrisy, and flimsy comparisons and examples, I realized Mamet is just a bitter, self-satisfied, egotistical guy who loves to hear himself talk. Not all the ideas are bad, but the writing is so offensive that it becomes easy to dismiss the work as a whole.
Jul 27, 2011 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bracing slap, this book on acting strips away extraneous concerns like feelings and memories and puts you in mind of the basic point of acting, which is to accomplish concrete goals in scenes with other actors for the pleasure of the audience. That said, Mamet spends a lot of time here ranting against academia and various methods of acting (including Method Acting) without much more practical advice than "trust that the playwright has done a sufficiently good job of writing your role and figur ...more
Oct 01, 2013 Anthony rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-chosen-craft
It's funny because he writes about what I always believed don't need a degree to be an actor. That was one of the biggest reasons why I felt OK walking away from Utah State without one. I just try to portray the character as honestly as that character needs to be to make the show work. He talks a lot about that in this book. It also opened my eyes to some of the things that I already did naturally, but didn't know that it was an actual technique or whatever.

So it's now 10/01/2013 and I'
Chad Bearden
I recently directed a show in which I was influenced by the writings of Meisner and Stanislavsky to coax very personal performances from my actors. The actors in question were very young (13 and 14 year olds), so I didn't really walk them through the details of The Method, but I did encourage them to dig inside of themselves and find connections to their characters that would allow them to more convincingly play some rather dark moments that would never be accomplished by the typical brand of 'a ...more
Feb 14, 2010 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, acting
A provocative, no-holds-barred, slap in the face to the traditional methods of acting, noted playwright, director and screenwriter David Mamet minces no words when it comes to the art of acting. Mamet's fierce opinions regarding various schools of acting are a breath of fresh air, and True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor is likely to polarize the current sentiments on how actors should prepare.

Terse and short, Mamet gets right to the point, but tends to repeat himself ... well,
Aug 31, 2007 Sammy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: c-the-okay
So, I wasn't too impressed with David Mamet here. I think he should just stick to (screen)plays and fiction and leave the acting lessons to others. Though he does reinstate the phrase: Those who cannot do, teach. He does humbly acknowledge this, though, in the very first chapter.

As an actress I found that most of the book was either reiterating things I already knew, or badmouthing things I have done (i.e. going to school to study). I didn't really take anything away from reading this and found
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David Alan Mamet is an American author, essayist, playwright, screenwriter and film director. His works are known for their clever, terse, sometimes vulgar dialogue and arcane stylized phrasing, as well as for his exploration of masculinity.

As a playwright, he received Tony nominations for Glengarry Glen Ross (1984) and Speed-the-Plow (1988). As a screenwriter, he received Oscar nominations for Th
More about David Mamet...

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“Invent nothing, deny nothing, speak up, stand up, stay out of school.” 16 likes
“Art is an expression of joy and awe. It is not an attempt to share one's virtues and accomplishments with the audience, but an act of selfless spirit.
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