BWW Book Reviews: Wallace's 'Bright Light' & Foster's 'Awakening the Actor Within' & More!
The following self-help books by actors and coaches inspire confidence, by assisting one with acting technique or in better handling the issues/obstacles of every day living. They all have the following in common: creativity, organization and common sense.
Actress Dee Wallace's (born Deanna Lee Bowers) third and perhaps most intriguing book (co-written with John Nelson) in which she relates her acting technique to the therapeutic process she uses with clients is titled Bright Light, Spiritual Lessons from a Life in Acting. Bright Light was the nickname her dad gave her, and the spiritual is not of a religious nature but refers to the innate, higher energy/power that is present inside of all of us but not always easy to tap into.
Wallace divides the book into 12 chapters each one reflecting a step in the therapeutic process, one that she believes you can use to remedy the static quality your life. They are: Intention, Art of Beingness, High-Energy Zone, Judgment Day - the Charles Conrad Studio taught her never to intellectualize or judge, Instinctive Response, Heart Light - remember E.T.'s spirit? He always kept an open heart, Sending Heart Energy, Immaculate Reception, Zero Point - do nothing but stay in the moment, Surrender, Just Know and I Am. Sound easy? Well, it's not! It's a complex process, but with willingness and drive, one can turn one's life around and make anything work. It worked for Wallace and thousands of her students. As an actor, she is a seeker of truth and believes totally in Divine Love and Creative Consciousness, both of which are within every single human being.
I love Dee Wallace and her loving words: "We are born with our light. The world challenges that light. Either we keep it shining or we don't." Yes, there are lots of anecdotes about Spielberg and Blake Edwards, Dudley Moore and those she worked with in the movie business in this book, but the true joy of the reading is in the life lessons learned.
For more information, visit www.iamdeewallace.com.
Actor C. Stephen Foster has worked extensively in Hollywood for the past 10 years on stage andon film in mostly original work that he has created for himself. He now relates his personal experience and knowledge about acting to help you reach a better understanding of your own talent and what to do with it in Awakening the Actor Within.
I have known Foster for many of these 10 years, and greatly admire his tenacity and positive spirit. Like Dee Wallace, he has a light within that is always shining brightly.
His workbook is divided into twelve sections, each one devoted to a week's study and practice. The practice exercises or tasks may involve speech, performance, reading, making lists, auditioning, even going shopping for your character. They are all active, not passive steps. The book is rather like a journey, beginning with Acting Is Healing and ending with Acting Is Interacting, not simply reacting or listening, as many like to tell you. It's far more involved than that. Foster advises each student to keep a notebook of his (her) progress, insists that you chart your progress in each lesson and at the beginning gives you a written contract to sign. I loved this element, as an acting student must take the work seriously and know when he (she) is on or off track. It's a completely private, but urgent issue in the actor's preparation.
What won me over about Foster's plan from the start is his set of rules. He believes, like me, that rules are meant to be broken. Therefore:
Never give up!
Keep it simple and specific!
Show up and be prepared!
Don't say "I can't."
Follow your heart's impulses and desires.
Keep moving, don't stop!
Trust your mistakes.
You're free to be the worst actor in the world. (Great! Fall on your face and don't be afraid! Ever, ever!!)
Do one thing each day for your actor.
Another practice that Foster chooses is one I firmly believe in: Always do an "I remember..." exercise, a type of sense memory that can serve just about everyone. It worked for Uta Hagen, so it can work for you too! Foster is brave to put out an acting book at his young age, as there is so much competition, but I laud his courage and insistence on teaching what is solid and true. His organizational skills are impeccable, and he, like me, teaches them to his students. Bravo!
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/awakeningtheactorwithin.
Barbara Deutsch is a highly recognized coach and entertainment consultant. In her newest book Open Up or Shut Up! How to Talk Your Way Into or Out of Anything! she opens up new windows of opportunity for the average person like me or you.
Open up refers to being blocked by fear, so open your mind, heart and mouth.
Shut up involves being afraid of not being heard or losing an argument, so listen as well as speak!
For Barbara, the bright light Dee Wallace refers to is called the pilot light, and one must free oneself of the alien within (anxiety) that prevents one from doing his (her) best work.
Each anecdote or issue in this delightful book, which by the way is good for any professional, is set up in the following way:
scenario/analysis of the scenario /redo the scenario/conclusion
Some of the scenarios are:
What am I a friend or a tax service?
The Hard Sell Means No Sell
Ready for My Closeup...or Not
Frequent Flier Flies Off the Handle
In a nutshell, what Deutsch is recommending are positive ways of behaving to guarantee the slightest amount of stress and the most success. Great advice! Fun book!
For more information, visit www.bdapproach.com
Although unrelated to the above books, David Hallman's very personal memoir August Farewell,The Last Sixteen Days of a Thirty-Three-Year Romance relates with candor and joy the last days of his companion Bill Conklin and hopefully will inspire gays to better deal with their sexuality and with loss. Having dealt with my own companion's death and staying by him through his passing, I understand how much it means to look back with appreciation and gratitude for time well spent.
In August Farewell, David G. Hallman is not afraid of allowing moments of joy to enter, mingle and become an integral part of his deep sorrow. With loss come a raft of wonderful memories that, by making us laugh and cry simultaneously, not only sustain us but help us exult in the true beauty of living at every stage.