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Through the vivid stories in "Drama", John Lithgow shares a backstage history of his struggle, crisis, and discovery, and the scenes of his early life and career that took place before he became a nationally-known star. Above all, "Drama" is a tribute to the most important influence in John Lithgow's life: his father, Arthur Lithgow. An actor, director, producer, and great Through the vivid stories in "Drama", John Lithgow shares a backstage history of his struggle, crisis, and discovery, and the scenes of his early life and career that took place before he became a nationally-known star. Above all, "Drama" is a tribute to the most important influence in John Lithgow's life: his father, Arthur Lithgow. An actor, director, producer, and great lover of Shakespeare, Arthur brought theatre to John's boyhood, where performance and storytelling were a constant and cherished part of family life. Lithgow brings the theatre worlds of New York and London to life as he relives his collaborations with renowned performers and directors including Mike Nichols, Bob Fosse, Liv Ullmann, Meryl Streep, and Brian De Palma. Lithgow's ruminations on the nature of theatre, performance, and storytelling cut to the heart of why actors are driven to perform, and why people are driven to watch them do it. At once hilarious and reflective, "Drama" pulls back the curtain on the making of one of our most beloved actors. “John Lithgow’s memoir is both unflinching and irresistible. It captures the long, hard road to the stage for any actor, or for virtually anyone trying to make it in New York, and shows how putting all of your hopes into the one thing you love isn’t so crazy after all.” —Gay Talese "A memoir as finely crafted as one of Lithgow’s performances."—Steve Martin “John Lithgow’s memoir of his training as an actor is more than an insider’s view of his craft. Lithgow likens acting to storytelling, and he’s a wonderful writer. The portrait of his father is as finely articulated as it is heartfelt, and the account of the young actor’s struggles with his too-young, too-early first marriage is both moving and candid. I loved this book.” — John Irving “This book has all the drama we’ve come to expect from John Lithgow, the alternately dark, tender, romantic, dangerous, deranged actor we find in Drama, which is also a family tale of the richest variety. A great read.” — Mary Karr


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Through the vivid stories in "Drama", John Lithgow shares a backstage history of his struggle, crisis, and discovery, and the scenes of his early life and career that took place before he became a nationally-known star. Above all, "Drama" is a tribute to the most important influence in John Lithgow's life: his father, Arthur Lithgow. An actor, director, producer, and great Through the vivid stories in "Drama", John Lithgow shares a backstage history of his struggle, crisis, and discovery, and the scenes of his early life and career that took place before he became a nationally-known star. Above all, "Drama" is a tribute to the most important influence in John Lithgow's life: his father, Arthur Lithgow. An actor, director, producer, and great lover of Shakespeare, Arthur brought theatre to John's boyhood, where performance and storytelling were a constant and cherished part of family life. Lithgow brings the theatre worlds of New York and London to life as he relives his collaborations with renowned performers and directors including Mike Nichols, Bob Fosse, Liv Ullmann, Meryl Streep, and Brian De Palma. Lithgow's ruminations on the nature of theatre, performance, and storytelling cut to the heart of why actors are driven to perform, and why people are driven to watch them do it. At once hilarious and reflective, "Drama" pulls back the curtain on the making of one of our most beloved actors. “John Lithgow’s memoir is both unflinching and irresistible. It captures the long, hard road to the stage for any actor, or for virtually anyone trying to make it in New York, and shows how putting all of your hopes into the one thing you love isn’t so crazy after all.” —Gay Talese "A memoir as finely crafted as one of Lithgow’s performances."—Steve Martin “John Lithgow’s memoir of his training as an actor is more than an insider’s view of his craft. Lithgow likens acting to storytelling, and he’s a wonderful writer. The portrait of his father is as finely articulated as it is heartfelt, and the account of the young actor’s struggles with his too-young, too-early first marriage is both moving and candid. I loved this book.” — John Irving “This book has all the drama we’ve come to expect from John Lithgow, the alternately dark, tender, romantic, dangerous, deranged actor we find in Drama, which is also a family tale of the richest variety. A great read.” — Mary Karr

30 review for Drama: An Actor's Education

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    John Lithgow is one of the best human beings I have ever met. Turns out he is also a superb writer. This autobiography covers his career primarily up to about 1980, which leaves me in hopes that there will be a follow-up volume. He writes passionately about his love of theater and his upbringing in it. There is much for the novice actor to learn in these pages and I recommend it highly. Lithgow does not spare himself when describing his failings and he admits justifiable pride in his successes. John Lithgow is one of the best human beings I have ever met. Turns out he is also a superb writer. This autobiography covers his career primarily up to about 1980, which leaves me in hopes that there will be a follow-up volume. He writes passionately about his love of theater and his upbringing in it. There is much for the novice actor to learn in these pages and I recommend it highly. Lithgow does not spare himself when describing his failings and he admits justifiable pride in his successes. For anyone who loves the theater, this is a wonderful read by a wonderful man.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    If I knew anything about acting or plays, I might give this 5 stars. Maybe I should anyway since I have no interest in either & yet really enjoyed this autobiography that is full of both. How did he do that?!!! Part of it was his voice. It's great for an audio book, but mostly Lithgow was amazingly honest - not brutally, though. There wasn't anything shocking or particularly horrible, just a pretty typical man who didn't always measure up to his own standards, but still managed to make a good, s If I knew anything about acting or plays, I might give this 5 stars. Maybe I should anyway since I have no interest in either & yet really enjoyed this autobiography that is full of both. How did he do that?!!! Part of it was his voice. It's great for an audio book, but mostly Lithgow was amazingly honest - not brutally, though. There wasn't anything shocking or particularly horrible, just a pretty typical man who didn't always measure up to his own standards, but still managed to make a good, successful life for himself. I wondered if he'd had therapy since there were some great self-insights. He did mention some, but he didn't use this to excuse anything, just told it like he thought it was & why. How it was was pretty interesting. With a father who was in the theater, he went into it too, but went on to become quite a success. It wasn't easy. In fact, it was horrifyingly difficult to make a living as an actor. I had no idea there were so many theater groups tossed together the way he describes. His several meetings with Meryl Streep, a short segment toward the end, was very well done. I played it for my wife, too. Anyway, it was fantastic. Thanks for turning me on to it, Joy!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette (Again)

    John Lithgow had no intention of becoming an actor. What he wanted most was to be an artist. He pursued that path with rigor, while participating in theater productions just for the fun of it. One night after a particularly fine performance, he was seduced by the roar of the crowd. That adulation from the audience was more than he could resist, and it changed his life plans. Art became an avocation, and acting became a full-time pursuit. Lithgow writes well and generally keeps things moving quic John Lithgow had no intention of becoming an actor. What he wanted most was to be an artist. He pursued that path with rigor, while participating in theater productions just for the fun of it. One night after a particularly fine performance, he was seduced by the roar of the crowd. That adulation from the audience was more than he could resist, and it changed his life plans. Art became an avocation, and acting became a full-time pursuit. Lithgow writes well and generally keeps things moving quickly. He tells some great stories from on and off the stage, and a few times he had me laughing so hard I had to put the book down. Sometimes things even move a little too quickly, perhaps, as he hews closely to the book's subtitle---An Actor's Education. He focuses primarily on his development as an actor, making only cursory mention of many life events that made him the person he is outside the theater. He does own his mistakes, though, and goes into some detail about how his infidelity destroyed his first marriage. The most moving thing about the book is the way John pays tribute to his father. Arthur Lithgow's consuming passion for live theater was what paved the way for John's success. Arthur devoted his whole life to acting, directing, and producing, but never received much acclaim. He always thought of himself as a failure, but very late in life he was allowed to see himself through the lens of his son's admiration. Lithgow ends the book rather abruptly, leaving off the second half of his life. Having read some unwieldy celebrity memoirs, I do appreciate Lithgow's efforts at keeping this one short and readable, but a little more about the time between 1980 and the present would have tied things up nicely. Maybe he's saving that material for another book.[3.5 stars]

  4. 5 out of 5

    Joseph McBee

    I don't typically read celebrity autobiographies. Frankly, I don't care to know that much about their private lives. I was drawn to this one though for two reasons: First, I admire John Lithgow as an actor, not a celebrity (although he is one of those) but as an ACTOR. Secondly, this book claimed to be about how his life prepared him for his life in the performing arts. That idea fascinated me, and made me want to know more. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The context is the author's relationship I don't typically read celebrity autobiographies. Frankly, I don't care to know that much about their private lives. I was drawn to this one though for two reasons: First, I admire John Lithgow as an actor, not a celebrity (although he is one of those) but as an ACTOR. Secondly, this book claimed to be about how his life prepared him for his life in the performing arts. That idea fascinated me, and made me want to know more. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The context is the author's relationship with his father, who was also an actor and director, and who had an enormous impact on the theater arts in this country, though few today really realize it. The book was well-written and honest. There were times that it was brutally honest, particularly when Lithgow was revealing his own shortcomings. He was gracious, even kind, when referencing people that he was at odds with at some point in his life, but he pulled no punches when speaking of his own faults and foibles. This impressed me. There were times I wanted to judge him for some of his actions but how could I, when he owned them so completely? Besides, his honesty did nothing but reveal my own hypocrisy as I desperately try to cover up my own sins. In fact, there were times I felt as if I was listening in on the author's confessional with his priest. I felt as if I were invading his privacy and that I should apologize and excuse myself before I heard too much. Thankfully these moments were few, but the honesty was consistent. He was just as honest about his joys and delights, and especially about his passion for the profession and craft of acting. I have always loved films and theater. Five or six years ago I actively auditioned for and performed in local plays, I wrote sketches and one very bad play, I directed, and was even thinking of starting a theater myself. Then, I decided to finish my business degree ( a decision I in no way regret), but theater had to take a back seat in my life. I thought for a long while that I wouldn't be going back to it anytime soon. If at all. DRAMA reminded me why I love the performing arts so much and why I MUST get back to it again. Lithgow writes with the passion for the theater that any "theater person" can understand. His book awakened that in me again, and for that, I am grateful. I suppose there are many things in this book that will connect with many different kinds of people, but for me, it was the theater. I am thankful for Mr. Lithgow's honesty and the passion with which he wrote. God has used it in my life to turn me back to something I thought I was no longer a part of my life. I am glad that I was wrong about that.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Book Him Danno

    Every time I see John Lithgow in a real situation, like an interview or game show, I never fail to come away impressed about how genuinely nice he seems. That is why I was very excited to get this autobiography as soon as possible. So I went into this a little biased too really like this and I can say it met all my expectations. This book should be handed out to every aspiring teenager who sees all the glittering lights and want s to be an actor. It will completely dispel the myth of overnight su Every time I see John Lithgow in a real situation, like an interview or game show, I never fail to come away impressed about how genuinely nice he seems. That is why I was very excited to get this autobiography as soon as possible. So I went into this a little biased too really like this and I can say it met all my expectations. This book should be handed out to every aspiring teenager who sees all the glittering lights and want s to be an actor. It will completely dispel the myth of overnight success and show you the hard work and time required to have a chance at your dream. More than that, it clearly demonstrates the amount of love you must have to every aspect of your profession. John Lithgow was a stage rat since he was a little boy working on his father’s productions. He grew up working backstage, building sets, making costumes, and being an all around dog’s body. Then as he grew up he began with nonspeaking parts and eventually having a few lines. Lithgow delights with a series of stories from his life that lead you through his progression as an actor. He covers both the proud and the shameful with equal honesty. From his Tony award to his infidelity, in the end you come away liking him all the more. What sticks with me is the new respect I have for any successful actor and who manages to stay a nice person. Acting is a profession and it is hard work. It sort of justifies my dislike for reality stars who try to skip all the education (as Lithgow puts it) and just be famous for nothing; or failing that, a sex tape. What you won’t find in this book is gossip and lurid tales of all the people Lithgow has met or worked with. This is definitely not a glorified tabloid.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Glee

    I have always been intrigued by John Lithgow, but I truly was amazed at his versatility when I heard some of his performances of children's songs that he wrote. I grew up in a small town with one big celebrity - Pete Seeger, who is a master musical storyteller. John Lithgow can match him stride for stride with the songs he has performed/written for children. Anyway, I was curious when I saw this at the library, and I had been sort of casting about for something on CD to play in the car and I saw I have always been intrigued by John Lithgow, but I truly was amazed at his versatility when I heard some of his performances of children's songs that he wrote. I grew up in a small town with one big celebrity - Pete Seeger, who is a master musical storyteller. John Lithgow can match him stride for stride with the songs he has performed/written for children. Anyway, I was curious when I saw this at the library, and I had been sort of casting about for something on CD to play in the car and I saw this. Well, I cried during the introduction. One of the most touching "bits" I've ever heard. I'm not a real theater person, but I have seen my share of plays and musicals (and wallowed in Rogers and Hammerstein stuff as a kid with my four sisters - prancing and dancing around in the living room to my dad's occaisional bellow "this ain't a goddamn gymnasium"). And I've been impressed with Lithgow since I saw him as Roberta Muldoon in "The World According to Garp" in the early 80's. This is just a marvelous telling of a remarkable life and how that life was shaped by many things, but most importantly, his father, Arthur Lithgow. I really recommend listening to this (it is probably a good read, also, but I can't imagine it being any better than as read by the author). You won't be sorry.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Patty

    John Lithgow's telling of his life as he grew to be the actor we recognize was, at times poignant, very funny, and a surprise, but entertaining and interesting throughout. I'm not a big movie buff and have only seen a few of his movies, as well as the very funny TV series, but what I have seen was enough to know what a good actor he is—enough that seeing the audiobook at the library piqued my interest. He has led a long and venerable career that began on stage long before most of the world had t John Lithgow's telling of his life as he grew to be the actor we recognize was, at times poignant, very funny, and a surprise, but entertaining and interesting throughout. I'm not a big movie buff and have only seen a few of his movies, as well as the very funny TV series, but what I have seen was enough to know what a good actor he is—enough that seeing the audiobook at the library piqued my interest. He has led a long and venerable career that began on stage long before most of the world had the opportunity to see him. The story of his life revolves around his family, the people he met at Harvard, and the actors he worked with on stage and in movies and tell of how those events and dealings helped shaped him as a person and an actor. He name drops, but almost offhandedly, and he is circumspect enough to protect those for whom he did not have the most flattering story (though, if pressed, it's not to hard to figure them out.) The book is well-written and, in the case of the audiobook, well-read. He is self-deprecating at times, proud in others, but the love of his profession is clear and the love of his family is paramount. I learned a lot about the actor and the man and my respect for him is greater for the knowledge.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    This is a partial autobiography of John Lithgow. The first thing I remember him in was 'Twilight Zone: the Movie." And I've been a fan ever since. He is funny and kind. His humor is clean. What's not to like? I liked the latter half of this more than the first half. He talked a lot about Shakespeare's plays, his childhood and his father. I found it interesting how he just kind of fell into acting as a career, even with growing up in the arts. The best part of this was that John Lithgow narrated h This is a partial autobiography of John Lithgow. The first thing I remember him in was 'Twilight Zone: the Movie." And I've been a fan ever since. He is funny and kind. His humor is clean. What's not to like? I liked the latter half of this more than the first half. He talked a lot about Shakespeare's plays, his childhood and his father. I found it interesting how he just kind of fell into acting as a career, even with growing up in the arts. The best part of this was that John Lithgow narrated his own audio. This felt honest, well written, and informative. But with all that, the beginning was slow and a lot of this was a little on the superficial side. So 3 stars.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    Upon picking up Lithgow’s memoir, I was surprised to find him, not only charming, but kind-hearted and caring. In the forward, Lithgow describes the difficulties of moving in with his parents after his father undergoes a difficult surgery, yet refuses to move to a retirement community. Finding the task of caring for his parents far more difficult than anticipated and with his father in a deep depression, Lithgow brings out the stories that his father had read to him as a child. And thus opens th Upon picking up Lithgow’s memoir, I was surprised to find him, not only charming, but kind-hearted and caring. In the forward, Lithgow describes the difficulties of moving in with his parents after his father undergoes a difficult surgery, yet refuses to move to a retirement community. Finding the task of caring for his parents far more difficult than anticipated and with his father in a deep depression, Lithgow brings out the stories that his father had read to him as a child. And thus opens the door to long-forgotten, but fond memories. If you’ve read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers (or about the 10,000 hours of practice it takes to successfully master a skill) Drama will certainly drive the point home. The child of a Shakespearian actor, Lithgow was immersed in theatre, although he didn’t claim it as a profession until adulthood. The strength of the book lies in Lithgow’s memories of his nomadic childhood and loses steam during his early career while he recounts the plays and projects he worked on and the directors and actors he with whom he worked. Because most of these names are unknown to me, the narrative lost its impact here, but I suspect those well-versed in theatre will appreciate the relationships. As Lithgow brings his memoir to a close, he describes his tribute to his father: Stories by Heart, a one-man act of PG Wodehouse’ Uncle Fred Flits By, the fondly remembered story Lithgow read to his father as his father had done for him.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Joy H.

    _Drama: An Actor's Education_ (2011)by John Lithgow Added 9/30/11 I first heard about this book from the New York Times Books Update, 9/30/11. The NY Times review is at: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/02/boo... It says: "_Drama_ is a buoyant, heartwarming account of coming into one’s own." It also says: "Lithgow ... is relentlessly likable." I agree. I'm looking forward to reading this book. Edit 1/22/13 : I am currently listening to an audio version of this book, read by the author himself! WONDERFUL _Drama: An Actor's Education_ (2011)by John Lithgow Added 9/30/11 I first heard about this book from the New York Times Books Update, 9/30/11. The NY Times review is at: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/02/boo... It says: "_Drama_ is a buoyant, heartwarming account of coming into one’s own." It also says: "Lithgow ... is relentlessly likable." I agree. I'm looking forward to reading this book. Edit 1/22/13 : I am currently listening to an audio version of this book, read by the author himself! WONDERFUL! Lithgow is gifted with words! I had tried to read the book back in November, 2011, when it was new, but it was due back at the library. So I couldn't finish it. That was a good thing because now, as a solution, I'm enjoying the audio-version so much more than I would have the book, because I'm listening to Lithgow himself. "Sweet are the uses of adversity." (Lithgow refers to this Shakespeare quote in his book. So true!) Edit 2/19/13 : I finished listening to this audio-book a few weeks ago. It was great! Lithgow's writing is wonderful. He's a great wordsmith. He writes with great style and has a lot of interesting things to say about his life and about the performance-world. His charismatic personality shines through the entire book. He's sort of self-deprecating, being honest about his downs as well as his ups.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Audio version is the way to experience this book. His wonderful voice and clever writing expresses more than I ever understood about acting, family, storytelling and the fragile experience of being human. I never was a fan of John Lithgow, in fact I hated Third Rock from the Sun enough that I still can't shake that annoyance. But after having read his experiences with theater and acting I admire him greatly. Anyone who appreciates Shakespeare will love John for his father's legacy and who he emb Audio version is the way to experience this book. His wonderful voice and clever writing expresses more than I ever understood about acting, family, storytelling and the fragile experience of being human. I never was a fan of John Lithgow, in fact I hated Third Rock from the Sun enough that I still can't shake that annoyance. But after having read his experiences with theater and acting I admire him greatly. Anyone who appreciates Shakespeare will love John for his father's legacy and who he embodied in his many forms as an actor.

  12. 4 out of 5

    N.N. Light

    I've been a fan of John Lithgow for quite awhile and I thought I knew him. But in this memoir, he reveals how his father influenced all facets of his life, including acting. Witty, honest and addictive to read, Drama: An Actor's Education is a must read! My Rating: 5 stars

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    John Lithgow was born in my city, Rochester, NY. His father ran various regional theaters throughout the Northeast as opportunities waxed and waned. His mother often worked as a teacher and was the real breadwinner of the family. John acted, danced and sang in multiple theatrical productions. He attended Harvard College and worked hard in the theater department. He says he didn’t do much work but his grades were good and graduated Summa cume laude. He married a local teacher 16 years older than John Lithgow was born in my city, Rochester, NY. His father ran various regional theaters throughout the Northeast as opportunities waxed and waned. His mother often worked as a teacher and was the real breadwinner of the family. John acted, danced and sang in multiple theatrical productions. He attended Harvard College and worked hard in the theater department. He says he didn’t do much work but his grades were good and graduated Summa cume laude. He married a local teacher 16 years older than he was and traveled around acting in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. They had two children, one died. After an affair with Liv Ullmann, the marriage broke up. A year later he married his current wife. The major focus of his book is his experience in acting so that is the story he tells. It’s very good and has some interesting and funny antidotes in it. I liked that he says that Terms of Endearment was a film that seemed a disaster to make and one that would barely see the light of day but turned out to be the best film he’s ever made. It’s one of my favorites too. Great book. Narrated by himself.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Barry Hammond

    In his first memoir actor/director and now writer John Lithgow, recalls his early life and the events which led him to becoming and thriving as an actor: his early experiences in his father's theater companies, his Fullbright grant to study acting in England and his early work in theatre and film. He also discusses his late-blooming adolescence, its resulting affair, and the disastrous effect it had on his first marriage. A well-written first-stage memoir. I look forward to another volume of him In his first memoir actor/director and now writer John Lithgow, recalls his early life and the events which led him to becoming and thriving as an actor: his early experiences in his father's theater companies, his Fullbright grant to study acting in England and his early work in theatre and film. He also discusses his late-blooming adolescence, its resulting affair, and the disastrous effect it had on his first marriage. A well-written first-stage memoir. I look forward to another volume of him discussing his mature work and life. - BH.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Doug

    I suppose one might compare this memoir to a fine cigar. You fire it up and you're not sure immediately where it's going flavor-wise. Eventually it settles down and hopefully gets mellow, not bitter. I enjoyed this (Lithgow's Drama: An Actor's Education) though I might have enjoyed it more if I were a psychiatrist and could have real insight into Lithgow's pathologies. Being of his generation (we might have even passed each other by on the Princeton campus, where I use to go to party with my bett I suppose one might compare this memoir to a fine cigar. You fire it up and you're not sure immediately where it's going flavor-wise. Eventually it settles down and hopefully gets mellow, not bitter. I enjoyed this (Lithgow's Drama: An Actor's Education) though I might have enjoyed it more if I were a psychiatrist and could have real insight into Lithgow's pathologies. Being of his generation (we might have even passed each other by on the Princeton campus, where I use to go to party with my betters in 1969), I've been aware of him and his work for a long time. But the thing is, I sort of avoided most of his stuff, because, in his early days (including early movies) he frankly gave me the creeps. Dressing in drag (Garp) or brutally murdering women (Blow Out) or just being stone cold brutal in a few flicks, his strangeness and coldbloodedness was just too...creepy. So, after I see he has a sense of humor (3rd Rock) and can play something other than strange or brutal it was with renewed interest that I rechecked his work and dove into Drama. The book (I got the audio version, because with an actor or comedian it adds a lot to hear the author read their own work) goes a long way toward giving a picture of a guy from a fairly elite background, privileged by dint of his father's somewhat exalted place in the theater world as he grew up, later acting in decidedly sophisticated works (Royal Shakespeare Company, et al), who starts scraping bottom (unemployed for a good stretch -- though still living in NYC's Upper West Side; yeah -- problems of the well-off), gets a bit anti-establishment (WBAI), and finally finds his niche in Hollywood. So good for him, and judging by his work, good for us -- Lithgow is a dependable and eminently watchable actor. Sure, he comes off a bit snobby, which he honestly admits to; he may be over-analytical here and there; and he could have easily infused his story with more humor. But he also comes off as very genuine, thoughtful and kind, though reading between the lines -- or listening between the words -- he seems to dole the kindness out rather conservatively. He is also unafraid to look back at his mistakes and face the realities of temporary failures (the draft dodging...occasionally treating others a bit shabbily...his fecklessness during his first marriage...cluelessness re finances), while also examining the nature of his relationship with his father, which for writers and actors has always been and will always be one of the great themes. Needless to say, Olivier never did a sitcom on the order of Third Rock, nor offered a soliloquy from Harry and the Hendersons. And his Twilight Zone appearance? Pure pulp. So how did this snobby Shakespearean wind up doing such lowbrow stuff? Sure, it was a paycheck. But otherwise there's no real answer here. For this reason, Lithgow, who puts so much on the line and reveals himself unabashedly in Drama comes off as an enigma. And the thing about enigmas -- they're always interesting; at least to me. But I wonder what Lithgow's father would have thought of some of the "entertainments" his boy found himself in.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Donald

    I had the good luck of seeing John Lithgow give a reading from his memoir, Drama: An Actor's Education, at Book Expo 2011. Lithgow is a likable, popular performer, and the event was packed. He gave a great reading that I really enjoyed. I didn't stick around afterward to get a signed copy of the book (and regretted it later). When it showed up on my Amazon Vine list (Amazon's invitation-only review program) I grabbed it right away. I'm glad I did. Lithgow's writing is clean, revealing, honest, an I had the good luck of seeing John Lithgow give a reading from his memoir, Drama: An Actor's Education, at Book Expo 2011. Lithgow is a likable, popular performer, and the event was packed. He gave a great reading that I really enjoyed. I didn't stick around afterward to get a signed copy of the book (and regretted it later). When it showed up on my Amazon Vine list (Amazon's invitation-only review program) I grabbed it right away. I'm glad I did. Lithgow's writing is clean, revealing, honest, and engaging. The bulk of this book covers his early years as a student of theater (his father was a theater director). It's a wonder Lithgow decided to become an actor after witnessing firsthand the hardships his father had to endure--the constant uprooting, insecurity, money concerns--but really, he had no other choice; this was the life he was born into. Lithgow spends a lot of time chronicling these early days of his childhood, the plays that he helped out on (mostly as a stagehand, then slowly but surely easing in as an actor), and his relationship with his father, Arthur. Lithgow's father was an eccentric character, and the (literal) cast of characters that made up Arthur's repertory theater gave me a peek into a world I'd never known. At times Litgow's early life reads like a John Irving novel, which is fitting since Irving actually wrote a blurb for the book. The second half of the book deals with Lithgow striking out on his own, away from the warm embrace of his father's theater group (and the sure work John would've gotten there). Instead he and his first wife head to New York, and the competitive Broadway and commercial scene that awaits them. Here, despite his experience, it is hard to find work, and the young couple struggle to make ends meet. Of course the reader knows it all works out in the end, but it is fascinating to see all the steps along the way, as told to us by Lithgow's funny, friendly voice. Drama: An Actor's Education covers up to 1980, when Lithgow successfully made the transition from Broadway stage actor to Hollywood TV and film star. There is just a quick summation of what came after, which opens the door to (hopefully) a second memoir. I look forward to reading it!

  17. 5 out of 5

    JG (Introverted Reader)

    In this memoir, Lithgow writes of how his early years shaped him as an actor, from his childhood, to his time at Harvard, to his studies in the UK as a Fulbright scholar, and on to his breakthrough on Broadway and film. I truly enjoyed listening to Lithgow narrate his own personal history. I don't know how much of his work I've actually seen, but I do like his voice. He took my thoughts and feelings exactly where he wanted them to go. I was quiet and pensive as he spoke about the power of story i In this memoir, Lithgow writes of how his early years shaped him as an actor, from his childhood, to his time at Harvard, to his studies in the UK as a Fulbright scholar, and on to his breakthrough on Broadway and film. I truly enjoyed listening to Lithgow narrate his own personal history. I don't know how much of his work I've actually seen, but I do like his voice. He took my thoughts and feelings exactly where he wanted them to go. I was quiet and pensive as he spoke about the power of story in his father's last days, I was howling with laughter alone in my car as he wrote about his father telling off a decidedly unpassionate Romeo, and I was interested enough not to notice as I listened and worked my way through yet another week of the Couch to 5K training program. You could probably accuse Lithgow of name-dropping, but when he's speaking of his work, it's impossible not to name-drop. I was very interested to learn that he was at Harvard with Tommy Lee Jones and that he saw some of Meryl Streep's earliest Broadway auditions. He doesn't hold much, if anything, back. His first marriage was rocky and he acknowledges his role in that. He writes honestly about his great love and respect for his father, how confused he felt to sort of surpass his work, and how determined he became to disassociate himself from his father's influence. If you like memoirs at all, I do recommend this as audio. It's wonderfully narrated by a fascinating man. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in a contest I won during Audiobook Week at Devourer of Books.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Randa

    I truly enjoyed this audio book. John Lithgow is a wonderful orator, and a poetic writer. His stories and recollections of his family are particularly poignant and visual. I really looked forward to my long commute to work so that I could be lulled by this evocative storyteller. I knew nothing about him beyond enjoying his roles in 3rd Rock from the Sun and various movies, so it was fascinating to learn of his theatrical background and his family history of the same. It was also curiously intere I truly enjoyed this audio book. John Lithgow is a wonderful orator, and a poetic writer. His stories and recollections of his family are particularly poignant and visual. I really looked forward to my long commute to work so that I could be lulled by this evocative storyteller. I knew nothing about him beyond enjoying his roles in 3rd Rock from the Sun and various movies, so it was fascinating to learn of his theatrical background and his family history of the same. It was also curiously interesting to learn of his self doubt, oblivious nature, and fretfulness. He is exceedingly honest and frank about his weaknesses. It was actually soothing to listen to him so honestly share where he felt he fell down in life and why; it reminded me that we are all human, and all have personal struggles and things to learn. The only reason I didn't give it five stars is I tire of the long lists of shows performed and actors I don't know, which is seemingly typical of these comedic and actor memoirs to which I am drawn. While I love learning of these worlds, I get bored when they go on at length about who was involved and what the technical details are about a production. For readers who know and care about this sort of thing, I'm sure it's a delight. A captivating novel and one which I would highly recommend. His love and respect for his family - and his father in particular - is so touching and powerful. At the very least this book makes you think about what contributions others have made in your life - especially during your formative years - and how those contributions shape where you end up in life.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Paula

    Since I have been a long-time fan, I was excited to find this title while--of course!--looking for something else. I'm so glad I was on a search that day, because I found treasure! At the heart of his biographical journey to stardom is Lithgow's deep and abiding love for the father he idolized but didn't entirely understand. Like many of us, he found the mystery of his parents' lives uninteresting and not worthy of exploration until he reached adulthood. Like many of us, the questions that occurr Since I have been a long-time fan, I was excited to find this title while--of course!--looking for something else. I'm so glad I was on a search that day, because I found treasure! At the heart of his biographical journey to stardom is Lithgow's deep and abiding love for the father he idolized but didn't entirely understand. Like many of us, he found the mystery of his parents' lives uninteresting and not worthy of exploration until he reached adulthood. Like many of us, the questions that occurred to him didn't come to mind until it was too late to ask them. He reached that point in life when one looks back and asks, "How did I miss that?" It's refreshing to read a biography by someone who is as honest about his failings as he is about his triumphs, and there were plenty of both to share. Lithgow was generous in his praise of the many people who interacted with him throughout the years. Endearingly, to me at least, when he couldn't offer praise, he graciously changed the names of those he'd found less than perfect, in order to spare them any discomfort. He was not as easy on himself; discomfort or not, he admitted to various occasions when he fell short of prefection, whether by accident or on purpose, and accepts responsibility for the outcomes. That's big. The hardships, the lucky breaks, the hard work and the many "right place, right time" stories found in this cleverly written tome makes it well worth the read. The obvious love for family is sweet, sweet icing on the cake. Grab a copy. Enjoy.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Anthony

    The John Lithgow we meet in DRAMA is pretty much the person I expected to meet. He comes across as experienced, proud of what he's accomplished, but not an egotist. He is honest about his own faults (especially as a husband during the first height of his career as a stage actor, and about how he didn't really understand the film industry at that point). He's open about his struggles as a child and teen (constantly being the new kid in town thanks to his father's various producing and directing a The John Lithgow we meet in DRAMA is pretty much the person I expected to meet. He comes across as experienced, proud of what he's accomplished, but not an egotist. He is honest about his own faults (especially as a husband during the first height of his career as a stage actor, and about how he didn't really understand the film industry at that point). He's open about his struggles as a child and teen (constantly being the new kid in town thanks to his father's various producing and directing adventures). The chapters stick basically to chronological order, and each one is short and to a point. Lithgow doesn't aimlessly wander across his own landscape and he doesn't pad the text needlessly. We get the details (physical and emotional) that we need to understand his journey, but we don't get more than we need. And for all the talk that he "kisses and tells," really he only discusses in detail one of the extra-marital affairs (out of the many he had) and that one is only discussed because it's the one that finally ended his first marriage. What he does share a lot of are joyous (and some not-so-joyous) stories of learning his craft everywhere from Princeton NJ to Harvard to London to Broadway. The book ends after Lithgow's second marriage is firmly established. He glosses over most of the second act of his career, so there's the possibility of another memoir down the road. I'll gladly read it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    I have not read many memoirs by actors. Now that I've read "Drama: An Actor's Education" by John Lithgow, I'm wondering why not? I love theater and admire people who do it well; and now, I can also say I admire people who write well about their theatrical lives. The Harvard-educated Lithgow is a smart person, but he uses a straightforward writing style so that flowery sentences don't get in the way of good stories. And he has lots of those. Can you imagine being a young student actor in England I have not read many memoirs by actors. Now that I've read "Drama: An Actor's Education" by John Lithgow, I'm wondering why not? I love theater and admire people who do it well; and now, I can also say I admire people who write well about their theatrical lives. The Harvard-educated Lithgow is a smart person, but he uses a straightforward writing style so that flowery sentences don't get in the way of good stories. And he has lots of those. Can you imagine being a young student actor in England in the fall of 1967, seeing plays at the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company, presented by the likes of Derek Jacobi, Anthony Hopkins, Patrick Stewart, Helen Mirren? Lithgow spent two years in England; oh, how I loved living those years vicariously through his words. This memoir, which concentrates on Lithgow's formative years on stage and in movies, has plenty of interesting tales about well-known people. But it's not a litany of "then I met so-and-so, who was fabulous; then I met this other person, who was also fabulous." It starts with a very touching, extremely personal story about caring for his elderly father in his last days. I think that tells readers what Lithgow intended with this book: that it would be real, and personal. He succeeded. This is the intimate story of one actor's education, both professional and personal: How Lithgow grew up to be a working actor and a loving son, husband and father, and what it took to get him there.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    I would give this a *3.5* this is a memoir by John Lithgow. He talks a lot about his childhood growing up with a dad in the theater business. his father Arthur Lithgow arranged and put Plays on In Ohio and on the East Coast. Mostly Shakespeare. Mr. Lithgow moved a lot during his childhood because of his dad's line of work. It could be very difficult for him starting school in new towns. He also grew up watching his dad act and taking roles in his father's plays. He goes to Harvard, and even earn I would give this a *3.5* this is a memoir by John Lithgow. He talks a lot about his childhood growing up with a dad in the theater business. his father Arthur Lithgow arranged and put Plays on In Ohio and on the East Coast. Mostly Shakespeare. Mr. Lithgow moved a lot during his childhood because of his dad's line of work. It could be very difficult for him starting school in new towns. He also grew up watching his dad act and taking roles in his father's plays. He goes to Harvard, and even earns a scholarship for acting in England{ pretty impressive. parts of the book were more interesting than others. I liked reading about the Broadway plays he was in during the 1970s. He shared a bit about some of the directors, writers, and actors he worked with but Only a bit. He also wrote briefly about his work in movies and Television. what i found very disappointing is he spoke very little about those movies and tv shows.I did not expect any mudslinging or tell all. but i would have liked to read more about being on those movie and tv sets. this was a fairly good read. I like memoirs just wished he shared more about his experiences working with some of those actors and actresses,directors etc. Nothing mean spirited just more facts.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ana Sanchez

    As an actor, I deeply appreciated his honesty and vulnerability about his life story and the craft of acting.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Margy

    Having read the memoirs of several respected actors whose books usually rate a 3.5 on a scale of 5, I was not expecting a lot from this memoir. However, I read a few reviews that made me give this one a try. It did not disappoint! I have cried( in the prologue, no less) and laughed, and hung on his stories with tension and dread and supreme interest. I listened to Lithgow read it to me, and I highly recommend this way of reading this particular book. I was not particularly a fan of his, but I am Having read the memoirs of several respected actors whose books usually rate a 3.5 on a scale of 5, I was not expecting a lot from this memoir. However, I read a few reviews that made me give this one a try. It did not disappoint! I have cried( in the prologue, no less) and laughed, and hung on his stories with tension and dread and supreme interest. I listened to Lithgow read it to me, and I highly recommend this way of reading this particular book. I was not particularly a fan of his, but I am now. I liked his giving a pseudonym to a person whom he was going to diss, so as not to be mean. That way you get the true story without the embarrassing revelation of who he is talking about. True confession: i was curious who a particular actor was that Lithgow was describing as such a pain. He mentioned the name of the film they were in together and I knew what approximate year he was talking about. So I went on IMDB.com and looked it up to find the real name to satisfy my curiosity. The quality of his introspection and reflection is what adds to the value of this book and makes it of value to me.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Leah K

    Drama: An Actor's Education by John Lithgow ★ ★ ★ In many memoirs I read, one of my gripes is how little detail there is. Many seem to just skim through their lives. The opposite can be said about John Lithgow. Within the first 300 pages of his 316 pages book, he discusses the first 30 years of his 66 year life. He almost goes into too much detail. Last last 16 pages of sort of a skim of his more “recent years” - those being from 1980-now. So while interesting, I became bored with every tiny step Drama: An Actor's Education by John Lithgow ★ ★ ★ In many memoirs I read, one of my gripes is how little detail there is. Many seem to just skim through their lives. The opposite can be said about John Lithgow. Within the first 300 pages of his 316 pages book, he discusses the first 30 years of his 66 year life. He almost goes into too much detail. Last last 16 pages of sort of a skim of his more “recent years” - those being from 1980-now. So while interesting, I became bored with every tiny step of his life. But I give him credit. He is honest. He doesn't skip over the bad and he isn't overly fond of the “look at me!” syndrome so many actors have. His love and adoration for his dad shines through from beginning to end. He delves mostly into his theatrical work here so if you are into theater or a huge Lithgow fan, this might be a good book to read. For me, personally, I found it somewhat boring at points. But he is a great writer and I do admire John Lithgow's work as an actor.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Marie Segares

    Drama: An Actor's Education is John Lithgow's memoir of the first (third?) of his life, as well as a kind of celebration of his father. Lithgow shares memories from his childhood up until his success playing Roberta Muldoon in the World According to Garp. Although he shares many stories about his work and other actors, this isn't a "tell all" type of book. Instead, it is a thoughtful look at the power of storytelling, the role of acting and drama in our lives, and the mark left on him by his fat Drama: An Actor's Education is John Lithgow's memoir of the first (third?) of his life, as well as a kind of celebration of his father. Lithgow shares memories from his childhood up until his success playing Roberta Muldoon in the World According to Garp. Although he shares many stories about his work and other actors, this isn't a "tell all" type of book. Instead, it is a thoughtful look at the power of storytelling, the role of acting and drama in our lives, and the mark left on him by his father, a pioneer of American repertory theater. I benefited greatly by reading this book on the Kindle Fire, where I could make frequent use of the dictionary. Lithgow has a vast vocabulary (not surprising, considering his educational and cultural background) but it isn't pretentious. Lithgow's presentation seems sincere and honest, and (like good theater) is alternately funny, tragic, and compelling. I would recommend this book to readers who like coming of age stories, memoirs, or stories about coming to terms with the good, bad, or indifferent of your parents as an adult.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lynn Meinders

    Clearly I am a fan of actor/comedian autobiography self-narrated audiobooks. I always go to this type of book after I have finished something that was challenging to me in some way. I chose this book because I had recently seen John Lithgow as Winston Churchill in "The Crown," so he was on my radar. I always have an interest in the personal back story of someone who has become successful in their field. This book gives a great description of an unsettled childhood with many family moves and a lo Clearly I am a fan of actor/comedian autobiography self-narrated audiobooks. I always go to this type of book after I have finished something that was challenging to me in some way. I chose this book because I had recently seen John Lithgow as Winston Churchill in "The Crown," so he was on my radar. I always have an interest in the personal back story of someone who has become successful in their field. This book gives a great description of an unsettled childhood with many family moves and a lot of encouragement and experience in the arts. John Lithgow is an excellent narrator if his own story and it goes without saying that he is also an excellent writer and storyteller. He tells a lot of stories about his mistakes and bad choices as well as about his lucky breaks and his successes. He is a very talented actor and artist and the best parts of this book were when he described how he parlayed these talents into one man shows and got his work in front of people who needed to see it. His description of reading a bedtime story to his frail, elderly dad is very special.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    John Lithgow is just so damn likable. That would be reason for listening to this audiobook alone-- his bombastic reading style is delightful and by the end of the autobiography it's difficult not to feel that he's your best friend. But beyond that, he has such poignant and well-spoken insights on the acting profession and the arts. Any actor will feel understood, inspired, and left with a fond and bittersweet look at the glorious and zany life of playing parts. I think non-actors will enjoy this John Lithgow is just so damn likable. That would be reason for listening to this audiobook alone-- his bombastic reading style is delightful and by the end of the autobiography it's difficult not to feel that he's your best friend. But beyond that, he has such poignant and well-spoken insights on the acting profession and the arts. Any actor will feel understood, inspired, and left with a fond and bittersweet look at the glorious and zany life of playing parts. I think non-actors will enjoy this book as well; Lithgow is a masterful storyteller, and his descriptions of personal anecdotes and relationships, as well as stories of well-known industry players are constantly engaging. A great read indeed, but I would definitely suggest the audiobook to enjoy the unrestrained drama of the actor's voice.

  29. 4 out of 5

    W. Whalin

    John Lithgow planned to be an artist and not an actor with his life during his early years. At eleven his family was temporarily living in Stockbridge, Mass and Lithgow discovered his childhood idol, Norman Rockwell was painting nearby. With courage, he marched over and knocked on the artist’s door and got his signature on a prized copy of Norman Rockwell, Illustrated. Yet his father Arthur directed plays and eventually Lithgow was pulled from art to the theater. DRAMA provides readers the detai John Lithgow planned to be an artist and not an actor with his life during his early years. At eleven his family was temporarily living in Stockbridge, Mass and Lithgow discovered his childhood idol, Norman Rockwell was painting nearby. With courage, he marched over and knocked on the artist’s door and got his signature on a prized copy of Norman Rockwell, Illustrated. Yet his father Arthur directed plays and eventually Lithgow was pulled from art to the theater. DRAMA provides readers the details of his growing up years and his studying drama at Harvard then eventually two years in England. I found the insights in DRAMA interesting how Lithgow told about the ups and downs of a career in the arts. It is not a simple or easy journey for anyone including Lithgow, who has won his share of awards and honors. I heard this book cover to cover and enjoyed it.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Diana Long

    Rarely is a person so forthcoming with personal information when it comes to writing an autobiography but in this work the author has done just that. Even being born into a family with a theatrical background, John had his share of casting calls and years of feast or famine, disappoints and great success. I found this book must have been a cathartic bit of writing as some of the topics he discussed had to have been painful admissions. Choosing this profession for a career is not for everyone, th Rarely is a person so forthcoming with personal information when it comes to writing an autobiography but in this work the author has done just that. Even being born into a family with a theatrical background, John had his share of casting calls and years of feast or famine, disappoints and great success. I found this book must have been a cathartic bit of writing as some of the topics he discussed had to have been painful admissions. Choosing this profession for a career is not for everyone, that's clear in the body of this work. John has paid his dues and gives us an intimate look into the life of a talented and much loved human being.

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