Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Acting (but Were Afraid To Ask, Dear)
West End Producer
Nick Hern Books
Dedicated followers of Twitter who are interested in theatre will probably be familiar with the tweets of the anonymous West End Producer.
Having never read them, this reviewer can only assume that Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Acting (but Were Afraid To Ask, Dear) effectively comprises a considerably elongated version stretching to many more than 140 characters.
Those who come to this book equally innocently will discover someone who is clearly an insider with deep knowledge of how the theatre business works. Indeed, his knowledge of the acting profession and advice suggests that he might have at least as much experience in that area as producing, which is generally downplayed in this book.
In 250 or so pages, our shy author covers most areas of interest to wannabe actors or readers who would like a better understanding of the experiences that actors are likely to undergo as they plough their furrow in this uncertain profession.
Running through training, auditions, rehearsals, performing and the business, most important matters are covered though almost always in a very light fashion.
Strangely, one of the longest sections covers bowing, in the context of the curtain call rather than making a violin yield up its heavenly music.
It has to be said that West End Producer likes to think of himself as something of a comedian which means that the information is consistently interrupted by jokes and witticisms and, as with all humour, will have greater appeal for some readers than others.
This author particularly likes his running jokes and readers who devour the book in a short period will find jazz hands and ball changes appearing with excessive regularity. Beyond that, sex is the most regular source of amusement with alcohol in second place not too far behind.
This is hardly the first book to take on this kind of topic, with Michael Simkins's What's My Motivation probably the current industry leader, its creator proud to use his own name and almost always extremely funny.
For a practitioner who tends to avoid seriousness, the final brief chapter entitled "The Future" proves to be an insightful essay addressing many of the ills that have beset the London stage in recent years.
This is the kind of book that is likely to end up under a good number of Christmas trees and is likely to provide a fair degree of pleasure and perhaps even some inside knowledge for those aspiring to become actors—or even producers.
Reviewer: Philip Fisher