I challenge any actor to find an acting problem that Dee Cannon does not solve in In-Depth Acting. In her inimitable forthright style, Cannon covers, in 140 or so pages, every conceivable situation or obstacle that an actor may encounter in their career.
However, don’t expect to be handheld throughout the process. This is not a book for those who expect a quick-fix, or require Cannon to wave a magic wand. This is a book of technique, primarily Stansivalski and while Cannon does acknowledge that there are other techniques and methodologies around, she is firm in her conviction that “the actors who apply the system correctly are the actors who stand the better chance of nailing their auditions and booking the job.”
It is a strong position, but one which she is eminently qualified to take. Cannon has been in the industry, as an actor and teacher for decades, spending almost two decades as Senior Acting Tutor at RADA, and she counts Gemma Arterton, Tom Hiddleston, Eve Best, Ramin Karimloo and many other top-profile names as former students. The foreword to In-Depth Acting was contributed by a former student, Pierce Brosnan. It is not just the names she can reel off that are impressive though, it is the indisputable quality of their performances that make Cannon a force to be reckoned with and a legend in the industry.
Cannon’s great skill is in de-mystifying technique and making it useful and practical. This is a 21st century handbook aimed firmly at the modern actor – how to utilise an ipod and which apps are best for actors, but maintains a direct through-line to Stanislavski – beats, objectives, ‘the magic if.’ I wouldn’t advise skipping a single page, even if you think chapters like Why Train? and Auditions may be a little basic for you. Cannon’s non-nonsense style will remind you every step of the way that there is great joy, and tremendous fun to be had in this industry, but it is all the payoff for hard work. Chapters on How To Develop A Character, or How To Rehearse, are detailed and far-reaching, and will prove invaluable throughout your career, but getting the basics right from the off will lay down the groundwork for years.
Cannon is a great respecter of natural talent, but In-Depth Acting is about continuing to develop as an actor throughout your career. Or, as Cannon writes “Why would you think that as an actor you can go on stage or in front of a camera and not put in your years of grafting, training and development throughout your career.” This little tome is packed full of questions to ask yourself, tips to help you create three-dimensional characters and exercises to apply to stage and film. Cannon has distilled decades of experience into one priceless book. In-Depth Acting is an essential toolkit. Carry it with you, it’ll be more help in an acting emergency than that Equity card in your wallet.
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