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Audition: Everything an Actor Needs to Know to Get the Part

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  2,248 ratings  ·  137 reviews
Michael Shurtleff has been casting director for Broadway shows like Chicago and Becket and for films like The Graduate and Jesus Christ Superstar. His legendary course on auditioning has launched hundreds of successful careers. Now in this book he tells the all-important HOW for all aspiring actors, from the beginning student of acting to the proven talent trying out for ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published December 2nd 1979 by Bantam (first published February 1st 1978)
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Average rating 4.21  · 
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 ·  2,248 ratings  ·  137 reviews

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Jun 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone!!!
Shelves: acting
The best book on acting I have ever read, and also full of great insights into human psychology.
Linda C.
Jun 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
This is a book I have bought many times over. I keep lending it to people and never getting it back.

I use this book to remind me of what goes into good drama.

Here is a link to a blog entry that I wrote about this book:

Oct 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The BEST Acting book I've ever read! I refer to this book constantly. ...more
Sep 19, 2020 added it
Shelves: acting
Still one of the best books on acting. There are definitely quite a few tips in here that are a bit antiquated and/or relevant only for theatre, but most of it is super relevant for every kind of acting. Michael Shurtleff really knows his stuff obviously and he writes so well, in a very easy-to-grasp style with lots of great examples interwoven. His advice is very practical and none of his explanation are overly technical. A must-read for every actor!
Keith Moser
Jul 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: aspiring actors
Shelves: 2012, education, 5-stars
Anyone who wants to be an actor needs to read this book. It is, by far, the best book on acting I've ever read.

It is filled with fantastic advice--some of it kind of obvious, much of it I've already been following for years, but still several good reminders of how to audition well. Of course, I've already read this twice since I bought it about a decade ago, so I shouldn't be too surprised that not much seemed new to me.

Michael Shurtleff was a major Broadway and Hollywood casting director. He of
Sep 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theatre
Definitely read this if you want to do anything in the field of drama. Or if you like philosophy. Or if you like weird, random stories about Barbra Streisand.
Daniel Summerstay
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: acting
The New York casting director who writes this book focuses almost entirely on cold-readings including only a section on monologues which says, essentially, 'all the same stuff applies'. However, my friend, the son of a New York Actress informed me that most New York Theatres audition with monologues and not cold-reads.
'When was the book written?'
'The 70s.'
'Ah, that must be it. I suppose, after they all read the book, they realised how mad the idea really was.'
And so the matter was resolved.
I en
Rohit Solanki
Aug 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Good tips. Direct, no bullshit advices.
Every actor or director should read once.
a bit boring though. Was really hard to read more than 20 pages a day.
Dec 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As an aspiring actor, I loved reading this book. Shurtleff takes you into the audition scene and gives you real life examples of what to do and what not to do. Some of the advice he gives is pretty self-explanatory but still extremely helpful. For me, I have referred back to this book to help me get into a good acting mindset. It emphasizes being yourself during an audition, while taking advantage of the many parts of the audition so the auditor gets a well-rounded view of what you can do.

This b
Brett Bavar
Jul 10, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Shurtleff shares many nuggets of wisdom for actors in this book, though those nuggets are sometimes buried due to the book's lack of clear structure.

I am an improvisor, and I haven't auditioned for a scripted play since I was a kid. Some of the advice in this book is particularly useful for actors auditioning for scripted plays, but I still found a lot of useful advice for acting in improvised scenes as well.

The core of the book sets forth the 12 "guideposts" for reading a script in an audition.
Danielle Alonzo
Jul 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Lots of valuable information. Best excerpt for me .. is to give an ENTIRE range of who you are in an audition. An audition is NOT the performance.

This rang very true for me. An audition is the chance to show the auditor WHO you are. Your personality.. and all facets of it.

This book is a staple for any serious actor & with each new set of sides I receive.. I touch base with my highlighted parts and get renewed :)
Emily Giuffre
Apr 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ALL ACTORS!!!
Recommended to Emily by: Professor
The absolute must read for actors. If you want to have successful auditions you have to get this book for yourself and read it a few times. Known by all in the business as the "bible" on how to audition and very good just to go deeper into characters after you've been cast in a play. ...more
Dec 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
I thought this would be cheesy, but damned if it's not really, really helpful. ...more
Jun 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: actors.
Recommended to Shaun by: Billy Merrit
A must read for anyone who aspires to be an actor.
Aug 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Great read. Super insightful and extremely helpful. Any actor subjecting themselves to the madness of theater should read this.
Nov 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Use it in my acting classes. It is great for beginning actors and experienced actors alike. Easy to understand and apply as an actor.
Mark Amacker
Oct 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book! It helps teach much more than auditioning, it also teaches exploring and approaching scenes. Excellent for anyone who is into acting if even a little, it'll help you out! ...more
Mar 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theatre
The best book on the topic of acting ever written. I have used it countless times, both as a teaching tool and as a reference for myself. MUST READ if you want to get better at getting cast.
Jennifer Bridge
Sep 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Excellent, pragmatic advice for scene study/monologues/auditions. Somewhat antiquated. A useful resource for students and teachers of Theatre.
Dec 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theatre
As a Theatre major, this book has done more than just open my eyes when it came to auditioning. This book is very helpful for actors. Highly recommend it.
Richard Wu
Jun 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
The economic mountaineers one finds scaling Wall Street skyscrapers love bragging about the quality of the bags under their eyes, and it’s true, they do keep late hours under abusive labor hierarchies. But in the pissing contest of masochism I wonder if they have anything on aspirant actors, who must, on stage, rend and tear their hearts and souls only to face rejection after rejection for the very qualities that dignify their humanity, all for, at best, a literal fraction of that emerald aquavi ...more
Angel Oziel
May 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Acting and A Lot of A Little Bit More

I will like to start this review by the quote that I could say best describes theatre in its relationship to life: "All the world 's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts"
-William Shakespeare

I started in theatre not a long time ago, at my young age, and was baptized in it by fire, interesting enough, I didn't had to audition because I was going to do an extra and
Kahmal Sealey
Apr 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow, that’s all I can say (but I won’t because I want to say more, lucky you)

On the blurb there are two reviews, one saying:
“What Stanislavsky is to Acting, Micheal is to Auditioning” and another that says “Extraordinary, no actor should be without it.” Both of these statements ring true to the power of 100.

The danger with any form of educational/self-help-esque book is that sometimes you find the author talking at you, from a position of ‘I know more so you should listen’, but not with Michea
Justin Fan
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you’ve ever thought acting was easy, try planning for even the simplest line after this book. Michael Shurtleff provides his lessons condensed in 12 guidelines, but even that is a lot to consider before the start of a scene. How can I say yes to even the most outlandish scripts? What is the 20-year backstory to this character that audiences will meet for an hour, tops? The best acting occurs between the lines; what occurs in the moments of silence, connection, realization between characters t ...more
Adam Carrington
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Golden advice from a casting director on how to pass a Broadway acting audition. Beautifully written. Grounded in experience and illustration of point. The psychology at play is fascinating for its relevance, applicable beyond the arts. Self-help genre, even. Thankfully, published in 1979, Shurtleff was writing directly for actors and unaware of the cross-appeal. That is part of the magic. To act is to master the manipulation of social dynamics. The skill of passing an audition involves manipula ...more
Michael Padilla
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
From Screen, Stage, to Life, Michael Shurtleff was an American Actor and a Big Force in the casting world. His experiences took him very far in his career in life as a casting director. "Audition: Everything an Actor needs to know to get the part" is just that, showing us the step by step process of how to make sure we nail that next actor's audition. ...more
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, acting
This is a good book, not just for auditions, but for acting classes as well. I found it to be very informative. There were some guide points I’ve learned in classes, I still learned new things. Even though, this was a book written primarily for theatre acting/auditions, I think some of it can be applied to film and tv acting.
Jun 12, 2020 rated it liked it
Lots of mumbo jumbo in here. Like, he babbles on and on. But the actual main guideposts are brilliant and really put your acting training into clear, concise, actionable steps im context to truly serve your work in an audition and through rehearsals. Will definitely be referring back to these guideposts often.
Jul 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: notes-on-theatre
The 12 Guideposts are very practical but essential. Plenty of good tips though I’m sure they don’t all come to mind in the heat of the moment. Loved reading about the now celebrities he auditioned and what set them apart or how they struggled in the biz. I’ll be glancing back into this book for last minute reminders before an audition.
Rose Klein
Dec 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A must-read for everyone even remotely involved in acting, writing, or who is in the business of understanding people. Shurtleff gives perspective and a suite of tools for bringing characters to life that are invaluable.
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