Drama: An Actor’s Education (Review)

Book cover for "Drama" by John Lithgow.Title: Drama: An Actor’s Education

Author/Narrator: John Lithgow

Publication Year: 2011

Pages: 336 (audio length: 10 hours 17 minutes)

Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoirs

Source: Audiobook version purchased from Audible.com

From the cover:

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.

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 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 films like The World According to Garp and television shows like 3rd Rock from the Sun, his early years were full of scenes both hilarious and bittersweet. 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 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.

Nominated in category: “Narration by the Author or Authors”

My first experience with John Lithgow was in his role on Third Rock from the Sun. Since then, I’ve tried to watch anything I see that has him in it … he just seems so fun!

So it was rather interesting to hear about Lithgow’s life in the theatre, and his not-so-funny side, both in acting and in life. The way that he told the stories about himself and his family just made me even more interested in his life story. And to hear it in his own voice really helped me to understand the private person that Lithgow was writing about, the man that you don’t really hear about most of the time.

What was particularly interesting to me was listening to Lithgow’s challenges as a young actor working both for his father and in hiw father’s shadow even when he went farther away. It’s interesting to see the way that he interprets this shared history, the way that two people so close to each other can both be interested in the same thing and yet view it and experience it in such different ways.

If you’re like Lithgow’s work, or are interested in the origin stories of actors, try Drama. It’s worth the listen.


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