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William Esper, one of the leading acting teachers of our time, explains and extends Sanford Meisner's legendary technique, offering a clear, concrete, step-by-step approach to becoming a truly creative actor.
Esper worked closely with Meisner for seventeen years and has spent decades developing his famous program for actor's training. The result is a rigorous system of exercises that builds a solid foundation of acting skills from the ground up, and that is flexible enough to be applied to any challenge an actor faces, from soap operas to Shakespeare. Co-writer Damon DiMarco, a former student of Esper's, spent over a year observing his mentor teaching first-year acting students. In this book he recreates that experience for us, allowing us to see how the progression of exercises works in practice. The Actor's Art and Craft vividly demonstrates that good training does not constrain actors' instincts—it frees them to create characters with truthful and compelling inner lives.
"I studied with Bill at an important time in my life and what I learned there has been invaluable. This book is the next best thing to being in his class." —Peter Gallagher
"Bill Esper changed my life. I'd always been told I was talented. But that scared me because I had no control over talent. What if it didn't show up? After studying with Bill I had the tools and techniques to deliver great performances regardless of talent, inspiration and even if I wasn't in the mood. His method delivers consistent results." —Tonya Pinkins
“Working with Bill Esper was an inspiring and unforgettable experience. His training remains the foundation of my work to this day. Every serious actor who dreams of becoming a first rate artist must read this book!” —Calista Flockhart
“Bill Esper's book is a joy to read. It reminds me what a privilege it is to be an actor. … His book is utterly inspirational and a brilliant description of the Meisner Method. With all due respect to my beloved Sandy, it is even better, in my opinion, than Sandy's own book, Meisner on Acting, as it has exercises that Sandy loved and taught but didn't include in his book. … Bill Esper has done an extraordinary job. It's the best book on the craft of acting that I have ever read.” —Mary Steenburgen
“Forty years ago I got a lucky break. I got to study at the Neighborhood Playhouse, and I met a great teacher. Sanford Meisner was the head of the school, and we all took classes with him; but the great teacher was Bill Esper. Say his name to the decades of his students and their eyes smile.
I read his wonderful book, and I am taken back to my student days–the same words, the same Socratic questions, gentle, and light, inviting the student toward a deeper understanding. I’ve spent my life working with actors. To do so, one needs but a few, essential tools, the mastery of which is the challenging work of a lifetime: be patient, be precise, be terse, encourage, suggest, praise, listen. I was first exposed to these tools through the example of Bill Esper, and I am very grateful.” — David Mamet
“William Esper’s acting training changed my life forever. I learned what acting could really be. . . . This book is a wonderful journey into Bill’s process. It gives the novice and even the veteran actor a vocabulary and guidelines on how to solve the acting problems that any text presents.” —Sam Rockwell
"Studying with Bill was one of the great gifts of my life. If you want to fully realize your potential as an actor this book is an excellent place to start. There is not a better teacher for actors than William Esper teaching the Meisner technique." —David Morse
“Bill Esper is the keeper of the Meisner flame. There is no other master teacher like him.” —Paul Sorvino
"A veritable magnum opus on acting from a Master Teacher.” —Olympia Dukakis
“The essence of this book is like William Esper himself: kind/clear, caring/generous, passionate/graceful, brilliant/profound. Inspiring. Invaluable.” —Jeff Goldblum
“William Esper has long been considered Sanford Meisner's most authentic protégé. The Actor's Art and Craft not only clarifies Meisner's theory and practice, it confirms Esper's personal stature as one of the leading acting teachers in America. This is a ‘must read’ for all who guide the development of the actor.” —J. Michael Miller, President and Founder, The Actor’s Center