theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013…
Barbara Houseman has already established herself as a foremost voice coach at the RSC and the Young Vic as well as on a freelance basis. Her experience and expertise have been brought to bear on a particularly tricky subject for any aspiring actor – how to tackle the text as well as the subtext. Houseman’s latest offering published by Nick Hern Books is yet another invaluable step-by-step guide for actors, whether trainee or long-established.
This weighty book is reminiscent of the Good Study Guides so popular among social science students in the 1980s. Houseman adapts this format by focusing on the specific needs of actors and then providing a technical blueprint for overcoming problems of conscious and subconscious blockage, nagging doubt, and debilitating anxiety. All these acting problems stem from being less than happy with themselves or their potential or with the text and subtext of their performances. Houseman offers practical physical and mental approaches with which to overcome these same problems. The outcome is a concise and practical textbook which provides the actor with the opportunity to recreate those ‘stimuli’ in a performance setting which Houseman argues leads ‘to “real” thinking, feeling and behaviour’.
The influence of the great e is noticeably acknowledged in Houseman’s textual approach. In addition, the ‘Helpful Extras’ section , which tackles the thorny issues of ‘Handling Auditions and Castings’ or dealing with that arch-enemy the ‘inner critic’, is unique and particularly useful. As Houseman quite rightly says, this is a book which can be read from cover to cover, or dipped into as the need and/or desire arises. Either way, Tackling Text [and Subtext] is an incredibly useful addition to any actor’s bookshelf and no doubt will become required reading for drama courses in the years to come.
Kevin Quarmby © 2008
Originally published n R&V 13-06-08
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