From David Mamet's MasterClass

Actors

Learn from David, in the role of the theatre director, on how he views what makes a great actor and how to cast the right ones for your play.

Topics include: Great Actors • Casting Actors

Play

Learn from David, in the role of the theatre director, on how he views what makes a great actor and how to cast the right ones for your play.

Topics include: Great Actors • Casting Actors

David Mamet

Teaches Dramatic Writing

Learn More

Preview

I've thought a lot about acting for 50 years. 50 years ago, I was a student at the neighborhood playhouse school up here in New York. And my teacher was a man named Sanford Meisner, among others, who was coeval with Lee Strasberg. They both came out of the Group Theater. And Lee Strasberg invented this idea called the method. And Sandy Meisner invented this thing that came to be called the Meisner Technique. And before you went to the neighborhood playhouse, they gave you a list of about 50 books that were all about technique. And they were by Stanislavski and Stanchenko, and all the Russians and Michael Redgrave's Mask And Face, and [INAUDIBLE] talking about singing. And they came from very, very Jewish tradition. Because the Group Theater was a very Jewish tradition. Lee Strasberg and Sandy Meisner, it was the tradition of study, that the truth can be found in intellectualizing. And so they invented these techniques. And I looked as an acting student, and I just didn't understand them. I understood the beauty of trying to find a technique for acting. But I didn't understand how that, other than as an article of faith, translated into acting that I liked. And so I started thinking about it. And so I founded a theater company. I think when I founded my first theater company, I was maybe 21 years old. And I said, wait a second, let's start at the beginning. What is an actor actually doing? And this puts me in mind of a combat handgun shooting. So a combat handgun shooting, and following it, as we all do, over the course of decades-- back in the '50s, the guys-- at that point, they were all guys-- the cops were taught, stick one hand in your pocket, and we're going to practice on a bullseye, standard 90 degrees to the target. Later on, some theorists said, no, no, that's not what you want to do. What you want to do is you want to use both hands. And you want to thrust the gun out and hold what they call an isosceles stance. One hand is going to [INAUDIBLE]. Pistol hand is going to thrust out. And the other hand is going to pull back. And you want to take a sight picture so that you have three things in a line-- the back sight, the front sight, and the target. The eye can't hold that much focal length. So what are you going to focus on? Focus on the front sight. You let the back sight go fuzzy, and you let the target go fuzzy. And it's a great way to shoot targets. But then somebody came along and said, wait a second. That's really great for shooting targets. But when someone's shooting back at you, there's nobody in the world who's not going to grab the gun from the holster, stick it out over there, your vision narrows to the size of a pin, and they're going to slap the trigger. So the current thinking was, let's see what people do naturally and train them to do that. Because there's no way they're ...

Write great drama

David Mamet sat in on a poker game full of thieves and left with the inspiration for American Buffalo. Now, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer of Glengarry Glen Ross takes you through his process for turning life’s strangest moments into dramatic art. In his writing class, he’ll teach you the rules of drama, the nuances of dialogue, and the skills to develop your own voice and create your masterpiece.

Reviews

4.7
Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

It is my second MasterClass Story. And this one is the best! Why? Because David Mamet understands to give parcticle "How to Do it" recipes which is clear and structured. I never have had that feeling of beeing right with my profession of being a writer. I must admit I can write better in in german than in english. Thank you Mr. Mamet. Jashlom and salaam alakum!

excellent! His comments about how this should be fun and at the same time confusing hit home to me.

Some great stuff here. Honest. And the idea of cause and effect across the range seems interesting.

Insightful, Brutally honest, and inspiring. There's so much wisdom in this class I'll be listening to it all year long.

Comments

EK T.

I watch Pacino do the role of "Teach" in American Buffalo. I saw Madonna in Speed the Plow. She was so nervous, it made the audience nervous for her. Pacino grabbed the audience by the throat.

TC W.

Prophecy. Flow of the divine presence. For casting, how do you best see that in an actor within an audition? An overwhelmingly believable rendering of a few lines that transfixes you and causes you to forget where you are? How you can you create atmosphere where that happens Maybe you can't. It just does.

Lee

Three of the Master Classes thus far that ignited inspiration, technique, discipline and respect for the audience are David Mamet, Dustin Hoffman, and Jodie Foster.

Kaustubh T.

Okay. So a lot to read on acting now. This is interesting. Just the information that a writer needs to read theoretical discourses on acting. For years I have wanted to read Stanislavski. But I always also wondered if it would be useful. Now I know that I should.

Warren W.

Actually I think the opposite is true. If you have a large amount of history on a character you have a soup that you can walk into when you enter the stage. This makes you much more comfortable.

Jess O.

So far this Masterclass is the best. And I've watched a lot of them. Thank you Mamet. You are very legit. You can tell he is a teacher.

Franners W.

I learn so much with each lesson … amazing how thinking of a proformas in terms of prophecy changes the direction from forcing through changing to allowing the part to flow through … totally two different methods with totally different results.

Andrew Kyle B.

Job description for an actor: Show up early, know the lines, hit your mark, tell the other actor(s) the truth. I think the next time I do casting I'm gonna use that.

Eric S.

Wonderfully to hear the truth of truth - DM sticks to his last, like the shoemaker. Don't focus so much on competency or perfection - Perfection comes not from you.

Carolyn S.

David is the prophet. His background in philosophy and theatre gives him such insight into the art of acting.