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So much mystery and veneration surrounds the writings of the great Russian teacher and director Stanislavski that
perhaps the greatest surprise awaiting a first-time reader of An Actor Prepares is how conversational, commonsensical,
and even at times funny this legendary book is. After many productions with the Moscow Arts Company, Stanislavski sought
a way to introduce his new style of acting to the world outside of his rehearsal hall. The resulting book is a "mock
diary" of an actor describing a series of exercises and rehearsals in which he participates. He details his own
emotional and intellectual reactions to each effort, and how his superficial tricks and mannerisms begin to disappear as
he increasingly gives over his conscious ego to a faith in the creative power of his subconscious. Rarely has any writer
on the theater achieved the sort of lucid and inspired analysis of the acting process as Stanislavski does here, and his
introduction of such now-standard concepts as "the unbroken line," "the magic if," and the idea of emotional memory has
laid the groundwork for much of the great acting of the 20th century. While much excess and nonsense was to follow in
the steps of Stanislavski's writings, his original texts remain invaluable, and surprisingly accessible, to any actor or
student of drama. --John Longenbaugh