If you’re coming to Chicago to be an actor, or you’re already here and looking for ways to kick-start your career, there are several ways you can spend your first $15:

  1. Lose it to the shady-looking guys on the train playing a shell game (TIP: DON’T!)
  2. Park your car. Anywhere. Between hungry meters and Mayor Daley’s relentless parking attendants, your wallet will have a nice echo at the end of the day. (TIP: Sell your car. You won’t need it here!)
  3. Drop whatever you’re doing right now, go to Act 1 Bookstore, and buy a little yellow book printed by local theatre trade paper PerformInk. (TIP: YES! DO IT! GO!)

In case you didn’t catch that, the correct answer is #3.

This 200-page paperback, simply titled The Book: An Actor’s Guide to Chicago, is considered by many (including myself) to be the holy bible of Chicago acting. I bought a copy in 2008 at the recommendation of a good friend, but for some reason I’ve chosen to let it sit on my bookshelf and collect dust for two years.

Dumb move, Joe. Dumb.

I picked it back up yesterday while getting to know my new PerformerTrack account, and I was surprised to see just exactly what I had been missing out on for the past two years!

The Book is packed with vital information for anyone pursuing a career in acting in Chicago:

  • Need to know how to get an agent? Not only does The Book tell you how to get an agent, it dedicates an entire chapter to listing names, addresses, phone numbers, and submission requirements for both union and non-union talent agencies throughout the city!
  • Wondering where to live? The Book gives you a breakdown of each of Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods, including the average cost of rent, crime rate, and major theaters in the area!
  • Looking for a class? Whether you’re looking to brush up on your acting chops, desperately seeking a dance class, or in search of good ear-prompter training, The Book gives you page after page of listings for major training centers and private instructors!

I could keep going, but you get the picture! If you’re really serious about becoming an actor in Chicago, you should definitely buy The Book. Like, now.

(Author’s Note: I know it sounds like PerformInk is paying me to tout their product, but I’m really just geeked about how helpful it has become in my acting pursuits. And yes, The Book and I do occasionally go on dates, but we always split the bill. Also, thanks to reader Aaron Bendele for inspiring this post!)

~JVB

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