The technique of Practical Aesthetics is outlined and explained in 'A Practical Handbook for the Actor',  written by Melissa Bruder and other founding members of the Atlantic Theater Company.  Originally written as an assignment from David Mamet to the six student-authors during an early Vermont summer Practical Aesthetics Workshop, the resulting book, published by Random House, has sold over 300,000 copies worldwide.  Foreign language translations include Chinese, Japanese, Dutch, Turkish and Spanish.

A practical handbook for the actor

"This is the best book on acting
written in the last 20 years"
- David Mamet



To the Student Actor: 

I know that you are dedicated and eager - eager to learn, eager to believe, eager to find a way to bring that art that you feel in yourself to the stage. You are legitimately willing to sacrifice, and you think that the sacrifice required of you is a subjugation to the will of a teacher. But a more exacting sacrifice is required: you must follow the dictates of your common sense.

Stanislavski once wrote that you should "play well or badly, but play truly." It is not up to you whether your performance will be brilliant - all that is under your control is your intention. It is not under your control whether your career will be brilliant - all that is under your control is your intention.

If you intend to manipulate, to show, to impress, you may experience mild suffering and pleasant triumphs. If you intend to follow the truth you feel in yourself - to follow your common sense and force your will to serve you in the quest for discipline and simplicity - you will subject yourself to profound despair, loneliness, and constant self-doubt. And if you persevere, the Theatre, which you are learning to serve, will grace you, now and then, with the greatest exhilaration it is possible to know.

David Mamet

Cabot, Vermont 1985”

Excerpted from the introduction to A Practical Handbook for the Actor
(Random House)