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Distinguished playwright David Edgar examines the mechanisms and techniques which dramatists throughout the ages have employed to structure their plays and to express their meaning. Written for playwrights and playgoers alike, Edgar’s analysis starts with the building blocks of whole plays – plot, character creation, genre and structure – and moves on to scenes and devices. He shows how plays share a common architecture without which the uniqueness of their authors’ vision would be invisible. What does King Lear have in common with Cinderella? What does Jaws owe to Ibsen? From Aeschylus to Alan Ayckbourn, from Chekhov to Caryl Churchill, are there common principles by which all plays work? How Plays Work is a masterclass for playwrights and playmakers and a fascinating guide to the anatomy of drama. 'lucid, deeply intelligent... combines theoretical acumen with the assured know-how of a working dramatist' Terry Eagleton, TLS 'Fascinating... Read it. You will learn a lot' The Stage
"Meisel begins with a look at matters often taken for granted in coding and convention, and then - under 'Beginnings' - at what is entailed in establishing and entering the invented world of the play. Each succeeding chapter is a gesture at enlarging the scope. The final chapters explore ways in which both the drive for significant understanding and the appetite for wonder can and do find satisfaction and delight." "Cultivated in tone and jargon-free, How Plays Work is illuminated by dozens of judiciously chosen examples from western drama - from classical Greek dramatists to contemporary playwrights, both canonical and relatively obscure. It will appeal as much to the serious student of the theatre as to the playgoer who likes to read a play before seeing it performed."--BOOK JACKET.
2014 was a spectacular year for playwright Simon Stephens, who has been described by the Independent as 'a brilliant writer of immense imagination' and by the Financial Times as having 'emerged in this millennium as an outstanding playwright'. 2014 was a year for Simon Stephens which featured a high number of world premiere plays including one for the theatre of his birthplace, Manchester's Royal Exchange, a major new play for the Downstairs space at London's Royal Court, and a Chekhov translation for London's Young Vic; a transfer of his West End hit The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time to Broadway; and projects in Germany, a country which has seen Stephens lauded, in which he has worked extensively, and which has shaped much of his dramaturgy. In addition to these major projects, Stephens continued his role as a mentor of young writers, actors and directors, and continued to be one of the most frequent, outspoken and fiercely intelligent voices of the playwriting scene. In an exceptionally honest account, Simon Stephens opens up to us, through daily diary entries, his working practices, his inner-most thoughts, his philosophy on theatre, the arts and politics, and his feelings and reactions to specific projects he has worked on. Through this, we are given unprecedented access to the mind of one of the most important playwrights of the twenty-first century.
Within the study of drama, the question of how to relate text and performance—and what interpretive tools are best suited to analyzing them—is a longstanding and contentious one. Most scholars agree that reading a printed play is a means of dramatic realization absolutely unlike live performance, but everything else beyond this premise is contestable: how much authority to assign to playwrights, the extent to which texts and readings determine performance, and the capability of printed plays to communicate the possibilities of performance. Without denying that printed plays distort and fragment performance practice, this book negotiates an intractable debate by shifting attention to the ways in which these inevitable distortions can nevertheless enrich a reader's awareness of a play's performance potentialities. As author J. Gavin Paul demonstrates, printed plays can be more meaningfully engaged with actual performance than is typically assumed, via specific editorial principles and strategies. Focusing on the long history of Shakespearean editing, he develops the concept of the performancescape: a textual representation of performance potential that gives relative shape and stability to what is dynamic and multifarious.
Catalogue accompanying 'A Working Script in Shorthand', an exhibition held at Screen Space (Melbourne, Australia).
Terry McCabe, himself an accomplished stage director and teacher of theatre arts, here attacks what he calls the growing decadence that plagues contemporary stage directing. He argues for a radical reorganization of the director's view of his role. It has become an article of faith in the theatre, Mr. McCabe observes, that a play is about what the director chooses to have it be about. But what right does a director have to treat a play as a found object, to be reshaped to express the director's concerns? None whatsoever, Mr. McCabe replies. He examines anecdotally a range of work by different directors by way of offering a substantial critique of today's leading theory of stage directing, and he offers an alternate approach. He challenges the notion that a play is the director's vehicle for self-expression, arguing that the idea of the director as centerpiece of the theatre tends to distort plays and oppress actors. He explores what it means to direct a play when directing is properly understood as a process of self-effacement. Mis-directing the Play examines the role of the director as collaborator with actors, designers, dramaturges, and playwrights. Throughout, the book's focus is on shedding the counterproductive myth of the director as creative auteur and urging in its place a return to first principles: the idea of the director as the interpretive artist in charge of putting the playwright's play onstage.
Text & Presentation is an annual anthology of essays devoted to all aspects of theatre and performance scholarship. This new volume represents a selection of the best research presented at the 35th international, interdisciplinary Comparative Drama Conference in Los Angeles. The essays include innovative detective work on Aristophanes’s and Aeschylus’s plays and discussions of topics including Joe Orton’s plays as social protest against the power of psychiatry and the asylum, George Eliot’s controversial description of the burlesque spirit as “fodder for degraded appetites,” and psychological depictions of young women entering into sexual experience in Liz Lochhead’s Dracula, among others.

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