Suggested Reading List
A History of the Theatre
Author: Glynne Wickham
Description: A fully illustrated survey of 3000 years of theatrical history, including opera, ballet and spectacle.
A Sense of Direction
Author: William Ball
Description: William Ball's productions at in the 1960s and 1970s were considered landmark interpretations of classic theatre texts. "Tartuffe", "Cyrano de Bergerac" and "Taming of the Shrew" all demonstrated a fineness of detail, a clarity of presentation, and perhaps most of all, a thunderingly imaginative theatricality which few directors can match. This book brilliantly details his approaches, and is particularly good on directors relations with actors.
Being an Actor
Author: Simon Callow
Description: Few actors are more eloquent, honest or entertaining about their life and their profession than Simon Callow. Being an Actor traces his stage journey from the letter he wrote to Laurence Olivier that led him to his first job, to his triumph as Mozart in the original production of Amadeus. This new edition continues to tell the story of his past two decades onstage. Callow discusses his occasionally ambivalent yet always passionate feelings about both film and theatre, conflicting sentiments partially resolved by his acclaimed return to the stage with his solo performances in The Importance of Being Oscar and The Mystery of Charles Dickens, seen in the West End.
Greek Theatre in Performance
Author: David Wiles
Description: In this fascinating and accessible book, David Wiles introduces ancient Greek theatre to students and enthusiasts interested in knowing how the plays were performed. Theatre was a ceremony bound up with fundamental activities in ancient Athenian life and Wiles explores those elements which created the theatre of the time. Actors rather than writers are the book's main concern and Wiles examines how the actor used the resources of story-telling, dance, mask, song and visual action to create a large-scale event that would shape the life of the citizen community. The book assumes no prior knowledge of the ancient world, and is written to answer the questions of those who want to know how the plays were performed, what they meant in their original social context, what they might mean in a modern performance and what can be learned from and achieved by performances of Greek plays today.
In Search of Shakespeare
Author: Michael Wood
Description: There can be few more appropriate writers and TV presenters to go In Search of Shakespeare than Michael Wood. Having already gone In Search of England and pursued the history of the Conquistadors in his recent acclaimed series, Wood has now taken on The Bard in the book to accompany his latest TV series. This is well-trodden ground, but Wood tells the story with relish and an historian's eye for detail, dismissing Bardolatry in favour of a "tale of one man's life, lived through a time of revolution--a time when not only England, but the larger world beyond, would go through momentous changes."
London - The Biography
Author: Peter Ackroyd
Description: Probably there is no one better placed than Ackroyd--the author of mammoth lives of Dickens and Blake, and novels such as Hawksmoor and Dan Leno and the Lime House Golem which set singular characters against the backdrop of a city constantly shifting in time--to write such a rich, sinewy account of "Infinite London".
Ackroyd's London is no mere chronology. Its chapters take on such varied themes as drinking, sex, childhood, poverty, crime and punishment, sewage, food, pestilence and fire, immigration, maps, theatre and war. We learn that gin was "the demon of London for half a century", and that "it has been estimated that in the 1740s and 1750s there were 17,000 'gin-houses'." Fleet Street was an area known for its "violent delights" where "a 14-year-old boy, only 18 inches high, was to be seen in 1702 at a grocer's shop called the Eagle and Child by Shoe Lane." By the mid 19th century "London had become known as the greatest city on earth." By 1939 "one in five of the British population had become a Londoner."
Modern Drama in Theory and Practice
Author: J.C. Styan
Description: Volume 1: This volume begins with the naturalistic revolt in France against traditional styles of theatre. As realism becomes a European movement the account moves from Paris to the Meiningen company and Ibsen's work as producer and play-wright in Oslo, Chekhov's in Moscow, Shaw's in London, Synge's in Dublin. Among the producers are Antoine, Brahm, Grein, Granville-Baker, Nemirovich-Danchenko and Stanislavsky. The early days of the Irish Dramatic Movement and the chief realistic directors and critics in the USA after Belasco are considered; the tradition is shown to persist in the work of Williams and Miller in the USA and Osborne and Bond in England.
Volume 2: he theories of Wagner and Nietzsche provide the basic principles for this volume, disseminated by the work of Appia and Craig, and affecting the later plays of Ibsen, Maeterlinck, and Lugné-Poe's Théatre de Le'Oeuvre. Jarry is seen as the precursor of surrealism; later symbolist elements are found in the plays of Claudel, Giraudoux, Yeats, Eliot, Lorca and Pirandello. Artaud's theatre of cruelty is related to the work of Peter Brook. The theatre of the absurd is illustrated in Sartre, Beckett, Pinter and Ionesco. Recent avant-garde theatre in America and Britain also reveals elements of symbolism.
Shakespeare and Co.
Author: Stanley Wells
Description: "With the passing of the years Shakespeare has too often been isolated from his fellows. He is the greatest of them, but he would not have been what he is without them." -- so says Stanley Wells at the conclusion of what is a wonderfully readable look at the theatrical scene of Shakespeare's day. Concentrating on the Bard's contemporaries rather than the man himself (more than adequately covered elsewhere), Shakespeare & Co is accessible rather than academic (though by no means lightweight), and an excellent introduction to those figures who hover on the edges of Shakespeare's biography, all too undeservingly like like bit-players in somebody else's drama. Individual chapters cover the theatrical scene (how plays were put together and presented, how they fit into the political mood of the time, and so on), and a brief look at some of the well-known actors of the day, before we get to the playwrights: Marlowe, Thomas Dekker, Ben Jonson, Thomas Middleton, John Fletcher & Francis Beaumont and John Webster.
The Director and the Stage: From Naturalism to Grotowski
Author: Edward Braun
Description: Beginning with the triple impulses of Naturalism, symbolism and the grotesque, the bulk of the book concentrates on the most famous directors of this century - Stanislavski, Reinhardt, Graig, Meyerhold, Piscator, Brecht, Artuaud and Grotowski. Braun's guide is more practical than theoretical, delineating how each director changed the tradition that came before him.
The Life of the Drama
Author: Eric Bentley
Description: Discusses the various aspects of a drama, from the plot and character to dialogue, thought and enactment. In addition, Eric Bentley describes different types of plays such as melodrama, farce, tragedy, comedy and tragi-comedy
The Medieval Theatre
Author: Glynne Wickham
Description: Glynne Wickham's important history of the development of dramatic art in Christian Europe. Professor Wickham surveys the foundations on which this dramatic art was built: the architecture, costumes and ceremonial of the imperial court at Byzantium, the liturgies of countires in the Eastern and Western Empires and the triumph of the Roman rite and the Romanesque style in Western art. Within this context Professor Wickham describes three major influences upon the drama: religion, recreation and commerce.
The State of the Nation
Author: Michael Billington
Description: Michael Billington's new book looks at post-war Britain from a theatrical perspective. It examines the constant interplay between theatre and society from the resurgent optimism of the Attlee years to the satire boom of the Sixties and the growth of political theatre under Tony Blair in the post-Iraq period. Written by Britain's longest-serving theatre critic, the book also offers a passionate defence of the dramatist as the medium's key creative figure. Controversial, witty and informed, State of the Nation offers a fresh and challenging look at the vast upheavals that have taken place in Britain and its theatre in the course of sixty turbulent years.
The Year of the King
Author: Anthony Sher
Description: "'One of the finest books I have ever read on the process of acting' Time Out; 'This is a most wonderfully authentic account of the experience of creating a performance' Sunday Times; 'A brilliant compulsive account' Michael Billington, Guardian
Will In the World
Author: Stephen Greenblatt
Description: With something of the vigour of the Bard’s writing, Greenblatt takes us through the bawdy, teeming Bankside district (centuries before it became a tourist destination), and the Machiavellian, dangerous world of the court--in fact, all the splendour and misery of the Elizabethan age--and at the centre of it all, its greatest artist.