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An Actor's Education

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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.

Publishers Weekly Review

Jul 11, 2011 – In this clever and heartfelt memoir, Lithgow, well-known for his role in the movie Terms of Endearment and TV's Third Rock from the Sun, tells of his life in the theater and the effect his father had on his formative years. Arthur Lithgow was himself an actor, director, teacher, and promoter of theater, and the family lived a vagabond life as the son became the proverbial new kid and "the good boy and not necessarily in a good way." As Lithgow writes, his talent propelled him to Harvard; he then studied at the London Academy of Dramatic Art and returned immersed in regional theater acting, designing and directing for his father. His father readily imparted words of wisdom early on, but as Lithgow grew up, his paternal guidance diminished. Their relationship was complicated: while Lithgow's Broadway career surged with a Tony Award, his father's career slid, which left Lithgow feeling guilty. With understated wit, Lithgow delivers insight into the difference between stage and screen acting and offers wonderful anecdotes of directors Brian De Palma and Terrence Malick.
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Sep 27, 2011
  • Publisher: Harper
  • Seller: HarperCollins
  • Print Length: 336 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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