An Actor's Education

Book - 2011
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In this riveting and surprising personal history, John Lithgow shares a backstage view of his own struggle, crisis, and discovery, revealing the early life and career that took place out of the public eye and before he became a nationally known star.

Above all, Lithgow's memoir is a tribute to his most important influence: his father, Arthur Lithgow, who, as an actor, director, producer, and great lover of Shakespeare, brought theater to John's boyhood. From bedtime stories to Arthur's illustrious productions, performance and storytelling were constant and cherished parts of family life. Drama tells of the Lithgows' countless moves between Arthur's gigs--John attended eight secondary schools before flourishing onstage at Harvard--and details with poignancy and sharp recollection the moments that introduced a budding young actor to the undeniable power of theater.

Before Lithgow gained fame with the film The World According to Garp and the television show 3rd Rock from the Sun, his early years were full of scenes both hilarious and bittersweet. A shrewd acting performance saved him from duty in Vietnam. His involvement with a Broadway costar brought an end to his early first marriage. The theater worlds of New York and London come alive as Lithgow relives his collaborations with renowned performers and directors, including Mike Nichols, Bob Fosse, Liv Ullmann, and Meryl Streep. His ruminations on the nature of theater, film acting, and storytelling cut to the heart of why actors are driven to perform, and why people are driven to watch them do it.

Lithgow's memory is clear and his wit sharp, and much of the humor that runs throughout Drama comes at his own expense. But he also chronicles the harrowing moments of his past, reflecting with moving candor on friends made and lost, mistakes large and small, and the powerful love of a father who set him on the road to a life onstage.

Illuminating, funny, affecting, and thoroughly engrossing, Drama raises the curtain on the making of one of our most beloved actors.

Publisher: New York : HarperCollins, c2011.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780061734977
Branch Call Number: 792.028092 Lithg
Characteristics: xiii, 320 p. : ill.


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modis01 Oct 17, 2015

Lithgow's first chapter is simply spellbinding and shows how storytelling and acting are intertwined. An enjoyable read, but a little tedious at the end as the last few chapters just list plays/people he worked with, without the connection he generates in the beginning.

Kathleen L Swagler May 13, 2012

I asked for this book 5/6. It is now 5/13.
What is going on with it?

Mar 21, 2012

Thoroughly enjoyed Lithgow's writing...kept my interest all the way through - the Preface alone is worth reading and re-reading - the power of story-telling - how moving!

Nov 22, 2011

A very good book. Actor John Lithgow writes beautifully, very openly and with great humor about his life, his career and his approach to the roles he played in the theatre and the movies. The book grabs you on the first page, and keeps you fascinated and entertained throughout.

fairboy Nov 12, 2011

This book is a delight from start to finish. I had planned only to read the book from Lithgow's successes forward, not interested in his growing up. But I started at the beginning and was instantly hooked. It's truly a great read.

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