Our latest Project Gutenberg eBook release, produced with the help of Distributed Proofreaders, is another how-to manual from Frank Tousey‘s series of Ten Cent Hand Books. Designed to help with the production of amateur “drawing-room theatricals,” How to Become an Actor touches on such important subjects as set and costume design, make-up, conveying emotions and (crucial at the time) fire safety. It also includes a selection of short sample plays, all of which rely on broad ethnic stereotypes, and most of which end in a general melee between the actors. It is difficult for the modern reader to imagine how anyone would want to put on such productions for their friends and family in the comfort of their own home (or anywhere else), but the book serves as an interesting cultural artifact, revealing just how much some things have changed since the late 19th century.
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