Directing Actors: A Practical Aesthetics Approach is the first book to apply the Practical Aesthetics acting technique to the craft of directing.
Lee Cohn lays out a step-by-step, no-nonsense methodology for the director that includes a deep dive into the mechanics of storytelling, the rehearsal process, working with writers, and the practical realities of the director’s job. Featuring end-of-chapter exercises, this book provides a clear and eﬀective means of breaking down a script in order to tell a story with clarity, simplicity, and dramatic force and gives directors a clear working vocabulary that will allow eﬀective communication with actors. The techniques in this book are applicable to any theatrical style and any media platform in which a director might work. Written in an accessible, conversational style, this book strips the process of directing down to its most essential components to explain how to become an "actor’s director."
A must-read for students in directing courses and professional directors working with actors who prescribe to the Practical Aesthetics technique, as well as anyone interested in the process of working with actors, Directing Actors will help directors to get the very best their actors are capable of while approaching the work with a joyful, open spirit.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments Author's Note Part 1: Preparation 1. Introduction 2. The Director and the Text 3. Actions 4. Practical Aesthetics Script Analysis 5. Through-Line Analysis 6. The Director’s Notebook Part 2: The Rehearsal Process 7. Early Rehearsals 8. Blocking the Scene 9. Adjustments and Run Throughs 10. Comedy: The Serious Business of Humor 11. Conclusion Suggested Reading and Viewing Index
Lee Michael Cohn, MFA, is an internationally acclaimed, award-winning educator, writer, director, and filmmaker. He directed Inside Private Lives (IPL), the hit show that was an LA Weekly Pick of the Week, recommended twice by the LA Times, and received a rave review in The New York Times. IPL also placed in the Top ten out of over 2,000 shows at the Edinburgh Theatre Festival. Lee is the co-author of A Practical Handbook for the Actor, a best-selling acting textbook (over 330,000 copies sold) that is required reading in hundreds of theatre programs all over the world.
"Lee Cohn, co-author of the essential A Practical Handbook for the Actor, has now written an equally important book exploring the director’s process in working with actors. Cohn cuts straight through the nonsense which too often pollutes the Director-Actor relationship, and provides clear, concise, and practical tools toward the cultivation of stellar, effective performances – the heart-and-soul of any drama. Reminding us that acting choices must always serve the story, he provides directors with a workable framework for script analysis, rehearsal preparation, performance vocabulary, and real-time direction designed to ensure exciting results. In simple, straightforward prose, Cohn demystifies the process, and offers a cogent roadmap for navigating any directorial endeavor. Directing Actors: A Practical Aesthetics Approach is a must-read for both beginning directors and seasoned professionals, and serves as a valuable addition to the exploration of this too-often slippery topic."
Dr. Michael Peter Bolus, PhD, Liberal Arts Department Chair, Los Angeles Film School; author; actor My Name is Dolomite
"Directing Actors: A Practical Aesthetics Approach is a must read for directors in film, television, and theater. A clear and concise breakdown of how best to use active language when directing actors. Refreshingly 'no nonsense' and to the point – Lee Cohn explains exactly how to get the most from your actors and craft grounded and truthful performances. Truly invaluable."
Maggie Kiley, director, Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story, American Horror Story, Riverdale, and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
"Lee Cohn’s frank and logical methods for directors working with actors should be required reading for anyone who plans to direct theater, film, or television. Finally, a clear-cut guide for those entering the realm of directing."
John Putch, veteran film and TV director; Scrubs, Cougar Town, My Name is Earl, Poseidon Adventure, and American Pie Presents: The Book of Love
"For anyone interested in theater, reading Lee Cohn’s book on directing is like having a private conversation with a brilliant director. This remarkable book considers the director as interpreter of the script as well as collaborator with every artist involved in the production. The advice is practical, doable, and fun. It is a candid roadmap for how a production moves from the page to the stage, and everyone – directors, playwrights, actors, designers, audiences, and even producers – will learn from it."
Evangeline Morphos, producer; Professor, Columbia University (retired)
"Many moons ago Lee Cohn decided to write a book with a few of our NYU classmates entitled A Practical Handbook for the Actor. Over the years I have either gifted or recommended said book to actors young and old. Lee’s teachings have always been one of the sharpest and most necessary blades I carry as an actor. Mr. Cohn now gifts us with his solo effort. Read it and watch your talent grow before your eyes! Buy this book! If you can’t afford it, steal it!"
Titus Welliver, star of Bosch, Gone, Baby Gone, and Deadwood
"Lee excels at stripping away the nonsense and delivering a set of practical tools that will help any director take their craft to the next level. If you’re a director, or thinking of becoming one, then you should buy this book. I was lucky enough to have Lee as my teacher. And now, thanks to this book, you can too. Lee’s writing is clear, concise, and absolutely crucial for up-and-coming directors."
Jeffrey Addiss, Emmy-winning writer-producer, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance