An Improvised Life: A Memoir

Alan Arkin, Da Capo, $16.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-0-306-81966-7
More a reflection on acting than a straightforward memoir, Academy Award–winner Arkin's musing on the creative process is a welcome window into the mind of an artist. After declaring to his father at age five that he wanted to be an actor, Arkin spent his Brooklyn childhood absorbing as much as he could from both everyday life and any opportunity he had to see films and plays. A move to L.A. in junior high cemented Arkin's performer dreams. As a student at Bennington's theater program, Arkin also performed with the earliest incarnation of Chicago's now famous Second City troupe, where he learned to appreciate the power of improvisation. Broadway and film roles followed, with Arkin integrating improvisation into his performances whenever possible, a skill he would hone over the years and later teach. The improv workshops—which Arkin taught and stresses were not "acting" workshops—began at Bennington and were also held at the Institute for American Indian Arts in New Mexico, where Arkin now lives. In this engaging and instructive book, he describes his own intuitive approach to acting and the ways in which he coaxed tentative workshop participants out of their shells. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/10/2011
Release date: 03/01/2011
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