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I HAVE been on the stage for more than forty years. My profession and its problems have been the principal interest in my life. It is natural that such an extended association with the theater should yield certain technical theories on my art; and, since I am nearing sixty, it is natural that I should want to talk about them. I do not regard any opinion I hold on the subject of acting as infallible; I learn something new about my profession every day; but there is one claim I make for the opinions I state in this book: they are not hasty. They have been two score years in taking shape.
I have watched many young people start their careers on the stage; I have seen some of them rise to success, and others sink to oblivion. It has seemed to me that the difficulties each met, and the mistakes each was likely to make were, in a general way, always of the same character. They were the difficulties and mistakes which all actors encounter.
There is no lack of books dealing with the lives of those in the actor’s profession. But few of them shed any light on the technique by which the admired actors of the past rose to high place. They are mostly pleasant, chatty reminiscences of their personal lives, whereas it is their professional lives that are significant.
However, in this little study, I have not attempted an autobiographical account of my early struggles in the profession, nor a story of my experiences on the stage; I have rather tried to derive from my experiences some truths which might be of service to the beginning actor, to state as concretely as possible some of the simple principles which bitter experience has made me believe are sound.—Louis Calvert