“An Actor’s Companion – Tools for the Working Actor”


“There is a muscularity, not to mention wisdom and truth, to Seth’s techniques. He is a wonderful teacher, and I know that having him as my first guide is one of the luckiest things to have happened to me in my career and life.” —Anne Hathaway, from her Foreword

“Seth Barrish has coached me on almost every TV project, film or audition I’ve done since we met ten years ago. When it comes to wisdom about acting, there’s no one I hold in higher regard.” —Mike Birbiglia, comedian, director, actor

“Seth’s approach and understanding is awesome. He makes it very easy to act by telling you not to act and be natural. It could be as simple as having something in your hand, creating business while you deliver a line to make it seem natural and comfortable. His book is amazing—it’s basically the actor’s blueprint.” —Jay Pharoah, actor, comedian

“In Seth’s class I often watch him transform a student’s good, yet average performance into a precise and exhilarating one, with just one simple adjustment. I am constantly blown away by how he does this. This book explains it.” —Sarita Choudhury, actor

“This book is truly unlike anything else I know—these pieces are haikus on specific elements of performance and character building.” —Philip Himberg, Sundance Theatre Institute

“Seth Barrish’s book gives actors what they need most in their very public, yet oddly isolated enterprise, and that’s a practical companion.”  —David Rabe, Playwright

Whether you’re a seasoned professional or in the middle of training, this book is for you.  Seth Barrish has written an acting book that is simple, direct and useful.  This collection of exercises, tips, tools and tricks are all designed to be used on the job.

An Actors Companion, published by Theatre Communication Group, is available at The Barrow Group, The Drama Book Shop, and Amazon.com.

Mike Birbiglia & Seth Barrish at the An Actor’s Companion Book Launch

The Introduction to An Actor’s Companion

“As a working actor, director, artistic director, musician, and teacher, I’ve come in contact with many amazing artists who have taught me a great deal.  I wish to share with you, as concisely as possible, some of what I’ve learned.

Here’s a collection of my favorite actings tips, tools, and exercises.  I love every one.  They are easy to understand and even easier to apply.  You can use them in rehearsal and in performance.

Each bit of craft came to me by way of other actors, directors, teachers, friends, colleagues, students, and personal experience.  I am unable to properly credit the source for each tip because I can’t remember who showed me what.  But I am deeply appreciative of all the people who have contributed to this book (see “Acknowledgements”).

I chose to provide the following tips without any detailed explanation of their theoretical underpinnings.  In other words, I don’t explain why they work.  I prefer to cut to the chase and just provide the tips (I have a short attention span and have always found reading about acting theory excruciating).

The tips are presented in random order, yet there is a common thread.  Each is designed to do the following:

· Encourage spontaneity.
· Foster entertaining, human, and compelling behavior.
· Help you to become more sensitive, imaginitive, responsive, and alive onstage.
· Relax you.
· Change your work effortlessly and invisibly (so the audience won’t detect any effort on your part and therefore will feel like they are watching a real person rather than an actor “working”).
· Bring more freedom to your work.

In a nutshell, here are my personal beliefs about acting:

· Acting is easy
· Acting is most exciting when it is spontaneous and moment-to-moment.
· Unplanned behavior is usually much more interesting than planned behavior.
· Relaxation is the key to many of the things we strive for.
· The best technique is invisbile.
· The best techniques leave us free (free to imagine, free to respond, free to feel, free to whatever).
· I don’t think there is one “way” to approach acting.  It’s about finding whatever works.

I hope the following tips will work for you.  If not, the book will certainly look impressive on your bookshelf.”