(Hare's article appeared in the Guardian, 11/20.)
What a pleasure! Suddenly there are a couple of first-rate books about acting. How often can that be said? Sure, the shelves of bookshops are always groaning with aspirational "how to" manuals, aimed at suggestible students with rich parents. Such books generally turn out to be as much value to natural actors as a Masters and Johnson survey would have been to Tristan and Isolde. They fixate on technique without addressing purpose. Why be an actor in the first place? But Simon Callow's collected arts journalism and the succinct, beautifully illustrated new biography of Sarah Bernhardt by Robert Gottlieb raise questions about what it is actors do, and why they are the subject of such public distrust.
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