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Extended Audio Sample Drama: An Actor’s Education, by John Lithgow Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (593 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: John Lithgow Narrator: John Lithgo Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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In this riveting and surprising personal history, John Lithgow shares a backstage view of his own struggle, crisis, and discovery, revealing the early life and career that took place out of the public eye.

Above all, Lithgow’s memoir is a tribute to his most important influence: his father, Arthur Lithgow, who, as an actor, director, producer, and great lover of Shakespeare, brought theater to John’s boyhood. From bedtime stories to Arthur’s illustrious productions, performance and storytelling were constant and cherished parts of family life. Drama details with poignancy and sharp recollection the moments that introduced a budding young actor to the undeniable power of theater.

Before Lithgow gained fame with films like The World According to Garp and television shows like 3rd Rock from the Sun, his early years were full of scenes both hilarious and bittersweet. His ruminations on the nature of theater, film acting, and storytelling cut to the heart of why actors are driven to perform—and why people are driven to watch them do it.

Lithgow chronicles the harrowing moments of his past, reflecting with moving candor on friends made and lost, mistakes large and small, and the powerful love of a father who set him on the road to a life onstage. Illuminating, funny, affecting, and thoroughly engrossing, Drama raises the curtain on the making of one of our most beloved actors.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A memoir as finely crafted as one of Lithgow’s performances. Lithgow tells of transgressions, indiscretions, and a tabloid-worthy affair that my PR people could only have wished for. An exciting and revealing book, and what’s more, it’s about acting!”

    Steve Martin

  • “Warm and generous...Lithgow is relentlessly likable...A brisk book, packed with funny stories...A buoyant, heartwarming account of coming into one’s own.” 

    New York Times Book Review

  • “At its unflinching, self-deprecating, wry, sensitive, and generous best, the book owes its charm to its openhearted tone...[Lithgow is a] master storyteller.”

    Washington Post

  • “Lithgow rises to the occasion with courageous honesty and fairness...There’s something breath-catchingly poignant in the simple, hard-won wisdom he imparts before taking his final bow: ‘Acting is pretty great. But it isn’t everything.’”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “Anyone interested in an actor’s life—especially backstage—will find this book enlightening.”

    USA Today

  • “John Lithgow’s memoir, Drama, reminded me that the world is indeed all a stage and that professionals have some great ideas about how to perform on it.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • Drama is a cut above—touching, self-aware, and beautifully written.”


  • “John Lithgow’s memoir is more than an insider’s view of his craft. 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

  • “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] clever and heartfelt memoir...With understated wit, Lithgow delivers insight into the difference between stage and screen acting.” 

    Publishers Weekly

  • “John Lithgow’s appealing and insightful memoir begins with an evocative tune that hints of the pleasures that lie ahead. The story of Lithgow’s peripatetic childhood and early acting career is full of human interest, hard-won truths, laugh-out-loud asides, and just enough gossip to satisfy without being prurient. The author narrates with all the skill and charm that one expects of the talented actor, wielding his vocal tool kit beautifully. He offers helpful pacing that matches the action, a smile in his voice when the anecdote is funny...and enough differentiation in voices that conversations remain clear. He’s also a pro with subtle tonal variation. There is not a flat note anywhere.”


  • “More than [a] run-of-the-mill...actor’s autobiography, this is both a memoir full of emotion and a cautionary tale...Lithgow shows that theater—the heightened form of storytelling—is an emotional exercise shared by the actor and the audience...A necessary gift for theater students.”

    Library Journal

  • Recipient of the 2011Publishers Weekly Listen-Up Award for Best Audiobook Read by the Author
  • A 2012Audie Award Finalist

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Sherry | 2/18/2014

    " I adore John Lithgow as a performer, and I'm sure if I listened to a reading of this book from the man himself, I'd enjoy his story. But without his voice, this book is too dry and boring. I didn't make it past 70 pages. Don't hate me, Johnny! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Jenny | 2/15/2014

    " Thoroughly entertaining with a whopper of a surprise at the end...totally unexpected information. Plus, I learned that his father was an artist-in-residence at USF. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Jesse | 2/11/2014

    " John Lithgow is a charming truth-teller in Drama: An Actor's Education, his own memoirs. Lithgow takes us through the constant stress he faced when he became "the new kid" time and time again as his family traveled to the next job cite. Lithgow introduces us to his father who directed him in his first stage production, gave him his first legitimate theatre oriented job, and watched his son grow into the spotlight. Through descriptions of Lithgow's relationships with his father, with directors, with actors, and with romantic partners, we can see the development of an actor who has played all of the parts. Then we see that transferred in the countless productions Lithgow has immersed himself in whether it be "The Changing Room," the first production to earn Lithgow a Tony Award, or the long-standing t.v. comedy, "3rd Rock from the Sun." What really makes this book shine is the charming truth-teller admitting to mistake after mistake without shame, but rather with gratitude because those mistakes have led him to discover a wife, two children, and an exceptional career, not to mention some great material to write a book! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Dennis Baker | 1/26/2014

    " One of the best memoirs I have read by an actor. "

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About the Author
Author John Lithgow

John Lithgow is an award-winning actor who has starred on stage and in film and television. His credits include 3rd Rock from the Sun and the films Dreamgirls, Kinsey, Shrek, and Footloose, among many others. A New York Times bestselling author of several books for children, he lives in New York and Los Angeles.