Keith Johnstone entered the Royal Court Theatre as a new playwright in 1956: a decade later he emerged as a groundbreaking director and teacher of improvisation. His decisive book Impro (1979), described Johnstone's unique system of training: weaving together theories and techniques to encourage spontaneous, collaborative creation using the intuition and imagination of the actors. Johnstone has since become world-renowned, inspiring theatre greats and beginners alike; and his work continues to influence practice within and beyond the traditional theatre.
Theresa Robbins Dudeck is the first author to rigorously examine Johnstone's life and career using a combination of archival documents – many from Johnstone's personal collection – participant observation, and interviews with Johnstone, his colleagues and former students.
Keith Johnstone: A Critical Biography is a fascinating journey through the physical spaces that have served as Johnstone's transformative classrooms, and into the conceptual spaces which inform his radical pedagogy and approach to artistic work.
'The book succeeds as an illuminating companion to Johnstone's writing and for anyone who wants to add to their understanding of how to improvise ... This is a living history and one which is required reading for anyone who has ever improvised and wants to know the pedagogical philosophy and principles ... An invaluable and inspiring insight into the influences and experiences that have shaped an unsung genius of twentieth-century theatre.' New Theatre Quarterly
'[Dudeck's] aim of balancing scholarship with accessibility is ably achieved in this unsentimental critical biography that greatly enriches our understanding of the system, and its enigmatic creator and, crucially, the pedagogic principles that drive both.' Theatre Notebook