An Actor’s Guide to Text Analysis
by Maura Vaughn
Maura Vaughn’s The Anatomy of a Choice is the first book to offer the actor a concrete, practical process for approaching a script. This concise, clear guide lays out a step-by-step method for mining the acting gold that is buried in any play. Ms. Vaughn leads the actor through a simple process to discover and define a character’s scene and super-objective, obstacle, beats, tactics and much more of the theory that underlies most modern acting training.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Maura as an actor, teacher and director and suffice it to say, she is a consummate theater artist. Her new book is an excellent guide to acting for all levels that offer a comprehensive vocabulary along with the necessary tools in order to mine the most out of one’s craft. In it, she offers an organic approach to acting that is thorough, humble, and most of all, accessible. She inspires, elates, and educates, all from her first-hand professional experience both as an actor and a dedicated theater educator.
— Ken Sonkin, adjunct professor, University of San Francisco
There are many approaches to the study of acting. Vaughn’s approach strikes me as incisive, thorough, thoughtful and eminently useful-especially for the younger actor. Vaughn puts to rest the notion that all the beginning student needs is desire and a bit of talent. Her anatomical chart is full of detail.
— Ted Walch, director of theater, Harvard-Westlake School
Maura Vaughn’s The Anatomy of a Choice: An Actor’s Guide to Text Analysis is an indispensable handbook for any young actor starting out on their long journey to become a theatre artist. Come to that, it’s a most useful tool for any actor already on that journey who should, when lost in rehearsal or performance, quickly refer to her concise, well-written advice.
— Jeremy Geidt, senior actor, American Repertory Theatre, lecturer, Harvard Colleg
Maura Vaughn wrote The Anatomy of a Choice because she was having trouble locating a book.
As the resident drama teacher at the bucolic Branson School in Ross, Vaughn spent years searching for a book that· would guide her students though the textual analysis portion of the rehearsal process. She was trying to find something to effectively serve as a textbook for the type of class in which students traditionally read a text only if they’re later going to be expected to perform it. She even went as far as obtaining a grant from the school to go on an exhaustive, three-month search to find the ideal book to use in her class. She reread texts she’d first read decades ago when she was a student herself, texts that had just been written, everything out there she could get her hands on. “What I eventually realized,” she says, “is that all the great acting books out there—all of Uta Hagen’s wonderful works and all of Stanislavski’s wonderful works-supposed two things. One, that you had a teacher in front of you and two, that you had some basic information about how to read a play.”