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The Drama Class Presents: Top Three Books Actors Should Have on Their Shelves

Updated: Apr 13, 2022

Learn from as many different people as you can!

There are many different methods that have been taught to actors throughout the decades, and with that comes hundreds of different books to study! It's important to learn from different acting teachers and their texts, but I thought I'd help you narrow the list to the three top recommended acting books! These are not only full of information and great techniques, but they are highly entertaining reads that come across more like conversations with the teachers rather than textbooks!

#1 - Respect for Acting by Uta Hagen

Respect For Acting is considered a must-have textbook for every acting teacher and student.

Respect For Acting is a "class in a book" that provides a solid foundation in the practical approach to acting craft that characterized Uta Hagen's legendary advanced classes at HB Studio, one of New York's most venerable institutions for acting training and practice.

Uta Hagen (1919-2004) was one of the most renowned and respected acting teachers of the 20th century. A transcendent actor (she won three Tony awards), she was highly sought-after and influential among actors she trained at HB Studio, the renowned New York City dramatic arts studio she ran with her husband Herbert Berghof. She also put in writing what she knew about her craft in her seminal text, Respect for Acting, and her definitive followup, A Challenge for the Actor, both still used by acting students across the globe. She also authored Sources: A Memoir.

Available at

#2 - Sanford Meisner on Acting by Sanford Meisner with Dennis Longwell

Sanford Meisner on Acting is a "class in a book" that provides a solid foundation in the acting technique taught by Sanford Meisner, one of the best known and beloved teachers of acting of the 20th century. For some five decades, he taught acting at the now legendary Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City.

Sanford Meisner on Acting examines his teachings as they are put into practice with an acting class of eight men and eight women for fifteen months, beginning with the most rudimentary exercises and ending with affecting and polished scenes from contemporary American plays. Throughout these pages Meisner is a delight – always empathizing with his students and urging them onward, provoking emotion, laughter, and growing technical mastery from his charges. In this gem, Sanford Meisner gives it to you straight on how to "live truthfully under given imaginary circumstances."

Sanford Meisner (1905-1997) is considered one of the greatest acting teachers of the 20th century. He was a brilliant teacher, and had a gift for getting the best out of his students. After years of working with actors, he developed "The Meisner Technique." His techniques were unorthodox, yet highly effective, leaving behind a legacy of commitment and enthusiasm rarely seen in any art.

Available at

#3 - The Intent to Live: Achieving Your True Potential as an Actor by Larry Moss

The Intent to Live is a "class in a book" that provides a solid foundation in the useful and exciting acting technique taught by the renowned private acting coach and teacher Larry Moss. Many A-list actors now prepare with a coach. "Hired to deliver," they get no rehearsal time on set. Larry Moss has coached several of them to Oscar wins, including Hilary Swank in Boys Don't Cry, Helen Hunt in As Good as It Gets, and Leonardo DiCaprio to three nominations: for The Aviator, Blood Diamond and The Wolf of Wall Street. When Helen Hunt and Hilary Swank accepted their Academy Awards, each credited the guidance of Larry Moss as key to their career-making performances. He also does a small number of workshops a year. But now everyone – professionals and amateurs alike – can discover his passionate, in-depth teaching.

Larry Moss is an American actor, director, and teacher who works internationally as a private acting coach. He studied his craft with such luminaries as Stella Adler, Group Theatre giant Sanford Meisner, and Warren Robertson. He began his career at New York's famed cabaret Upstairs at the Downstairs and went on to appear on Broadway in numerous productions. After teaching at Juilliard and Circle in the Square, he moved to Los Angeles and works internationally as a private acting coach. His directing credits include the off-Broadway hit The Syringa Tree, which won the Obie for Best Play of the Year.

Available at

There's plenty more where that came from

Again, I'm only listing my three personal favourites that I've found the most helpful. If you want more options, check out for more books on acting, writing, directing, and plays!

For more tips and tricks, check out !


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