The Art of the Actor: The Essential History of Acting from Classical Times to the Present Day, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Art of the Actor

The Essential History of Acting from Classical Times to the Present Day, 1st Edition

By Jean Benedetti


256 pages

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How did acting begin? What is its history, and what have the great thinkers on acting said about the art and craft of performance? In this single-volume survey of the history of acting, Jean Benedetti traces the evolution of the theories of the actor's craft drawing extensively on extracts from key texts, many of which are unavailable for the student today. Beginning with the classical conceptions of acting as rhetoric and oratory, as exemplified in the writing of Aristotle, Cicero and others, The Art of the Actor progresses to examine ideas of acting in Shakespeare's time right through to the present day. Along the way, Benedetti considers the contribution and theories of key figures such as Diderot, Stanislavski, Meyerhold, Brecht, Artaud and Grotowski, providing a clear and concise explanation of their work illustrated by extracts and summaries of their writings. Some source materials appear in the volume for the first time in English.

The Art of the Actor will be the essential history of acting for all students and actors interested in the great tradition of performance, both as craft and as art.

Table of Contents




1. Classical Rhetoric

2. Shakespeare and His Contemporaries

3. Declamation

4. Acting

5. Diderot

6. Coquelin

7. Realism

8. Stanislavski and the 'System'

9. Michael Chekhov

10. The New Actor in France

11. Meyerhold

12. Brecht

13. The 'Ritual' Actor


Select Bibliography


About the Author

Jean Benedetti is the biographer of Stanislavski and the author of many works of criticism as well as plays. A teacher, translator, and writer, he is Honorary Professor at the Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama and at Queen Margaret University College Edinburgh. His most recent books include a new edition of Stanislavski: An Introduction (0878301836) and a new translation of Toporkov's The Stanislavski Legacy (0877201836), both published by Routledge.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PERFORMING ARTS / Acting & Auditioning
PERFORMING ARTS / Theater / General
PERFORMING ARTS / Theater / Stagecraft