Maura Vaughn’s The Anatomy of a Choice: An Actor’s Guide to Text Analysis has been published by University Press of America, and is now available for retail purchase.
A professional actor and teacher of acting for over twenty years, Maura Vaughn asked herself what was the most basic skill that a young actor needs to acquire in order to bring a performance fully to life.
She realized that it is the ability to read a script, break it down, and mine all of its clues. Until the you can figure out what it is that the script is saying, you cannot act, no matter how well developed your imagination, no matter how strong your commitment to your art, to your fellow actors or to the play. And yet the hundreds of thousands of young actors who study acting every year in America’s high schools and colleges are left without a simple guide to undertaking this most primary of tasks.
Looking for a textbook to teach this skill to her students, she discovered that all of the acting texts that were available were either for advanced practitioners or touched on this essential skill in passing at best.
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.
Ms. Vaughn developed this textbook over the past decade in the laboratory of her own classroom, refining it as she worked with her students to make it as useful and usable as any text describing an artistic process can be. Jeremy Geidt, longtime company member at American Repertory Theatre and lecturer at Harvard, calls it “an indispensable handbook for any young actor starting out on the 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. “
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