Theatre Makers


The Art of Rehearsal

Bloomsbury Publishing

What are the key elements that go into creating a work of art for the stage? Which are the most productive conditions and methods of rehearsal? In this collection of interviews, 18 international artists share their experience and offer practical advice on the creation of performance work. Their answers provide a goldmine of tried and tested approaches as they discuss the common problems and difficulties of creative work, their turning-point experiences, and ways in which they have challenged performers and themselves to go beyond conditioned reflexes to create groundbreaking new work.

Among the contemporary directors, choreographers, performers, and actors to share their insights are: Annabel Arden (Complicite), Richard Lowdom (Forced Entertainment), Richard Foreman (Ontological-Hysteric Theatre), Maxine Doyle (Punchdrunk), Eugenio barba (Odin Teatret), Jan Fabre, and Helgard Haug (Rimini Protokoll). The interviews spring from the research project Rehearsal Matters, co-created by Barbara Simonsen, Isabelle Reynaud and Deborah Vlaeymans. Videos of several of the interviews can be found here.

Edward Bond: The Playwright Speaks

Bloomsbury Publishing

Over 50 years after his first appearance on the theatre scene, Edward Bond remains a hugely significant figure in the history of modern British playwriting. His plays are the subject of much debate and frequent misinterpretation, with his extensive use of allegory and metaphor to comment on the state of society and humanity in general leading to many academics, theatre practitioners and students trying - and often failing - to make sense of his plays over the years.

In this unique collection, David Tuaillon puts these pressing questions and mysteries to Edward Bond himself, provoking answers to some of his most elusive dramatic material, and covering an extraordinary range of plays and subjects with real clarity. With a particular focus on Bond's later plays, about which much less has been written, this book draws together very many questions and issues within a thematic structure, while observing chronology within that.

Edward Bond: The Playwright Speaks is potentially the most comprehensive, precise and clear account of the playwright's work and time in the theatre to date, distilling years and schools of thought into one single volume.

Published to mark the 50th anniversary of the first performance of Edward Bond's Saved at the Royal Court Theatre in 1965.

'Tuaillon has compiled a remarkable collection that includes some of the greatest writing on theatre practice I've ever read … This new collection is seminal … It will prove a vital resource for anyone working in contemporary theatre.' Times Literary Supplement

Granville Barker on Theatre

Bloomsbury Publishing

Granville Barker on Theatre brings together some of the most important critical theatrical writings of Harley Granville Barker, a major figure of 20th-century British theatre.

Known as a pioneer of the National Theatre and Repertory Movement, and remembered mainly for his Prefaces to Shakespeare, from the 1900s to his death in the 1940s Granville Barker commented enthusiastically in newspaper items, introductions to plays, articles, essays, articles, and published lectures on a range of topics: the nature of theatre as an art form and as a social medium, the need for ensemble playing in a repertory system, the relationship between the three chief constituents of theatre – the actor, the playwright and the audience.

Granville Barker on Theatre makes available again these writings in which Barker dissects the state of theatre as he saw it, with coruscating critiques of the commercial system, the long run and censorship, the vitality of theatre outside Britain, and what he saw as the welcome renaissance of theatre in non-professional groups liberated from the profit motive.

These writings show a master practitioner concerned with, above all, promoting a new type of drama; vital not only for its own sake but for the sake of the health of society at large.

Joan's Book

Bloomsbury Publishing

'Once upon a time, the London theatre was a charming mirror held up to cosiness. Then came Joan Littlewood, smashing the glass, blasting the walls, letting the wind of life blow in a rough, but ready, world. Today, we remember this irresistible force with love and gratitude.' (Peter Brook)

Along with Peter Brook, Joan Littlewood, affectionately termed 'The Mother of Modern Theatre', has come to be known as the most galvanising director of mid-twentieth-century Britain, as well as a founder of so many of the practices of contemporary theatre. The best-known work of Littlewood's company, Theatre Workshop, included the development and premieres of Shelagh Delaney's A Taste of Honey, Brendan Behan's The Hostage and The Quare Fellow, and the seminal Oh What A Lovely War.

This autobiography, originally published in 1994, offers an unparalleled first-hand account of Littlewood's extraordinary life and career, from illegitimate child in south-east London to one of the most influential directors and practitioners of our times. It is published along with an introduction by Philip Hedley CBE, previously Artistic Director of Theatre Royal Stratford East and Assistant Director to Joan Littlewood.

Julius Caesar and Me

Bloomsbury Publishing

'Julius Caesar is, simply, Shakespeare's African play' John Kani

In 2012, actor Paterson Joseph played the role of Brutus in the Royal Shakespeare Company's acclaimed production of Julius Caesar - Gregory Doran's last play before becoming Artistic Director for the RSC. It is a play, Joseph is quick to acknowledge, that is widely misunderstood - even dreaded - when it comes to study and performance.

Alongside offering fascinating insights into Julius Caesar and Shakespeare's writing, Joseph serves up details of the rehearsal process; his key collaborations during an eclectic career; as well as his experience of working with a majority black cast. He considers the positioning of ethnic minority actors in Shakespeare productions in general, and female actors tackling so seemingly masculine a play in particular. Audience reactions are also investigated by Joseph, citing numerous conversations he has had with psychologists, counsellors and neurologists on the subject of what happens between performer and spectator.

For Paterson Joseph, his experience of playing Brutus in Julius Caesar with the RSC was a defining point in his career, and a transformative experience. For any actor or practitioner working on Shakespeare - or for any reader interested in his plays - this is a fascinating and informative read, which unlocks so much about making and understanding theatre from the inside.

'A fascinating inside look at the evolution of a play, as it brings an entirely new perspective to something we thought we knew. As it moves through readings, productions, and locations, the play shifts and changes, as do the relationships of the performers. By the end of Joseph's book, we forget that the African setting and interpretation can be anything other than the way Shakespeare originally imagined it.' Gretchen Gerzina, author and Dean of Commonwealth Honors College, University of Massachusetts, USA

'This is a lively, eloquent and exceptionally well-written and well-informed book. I read it in three sittings.' Russell Jackson, University of Birmingham, Department of Drama and Theatre Arts

'I found the proposed book to be very compelling and engaging, and I think it could appeal to a wide range of readers: RSC fans, drama students, and Shakespeareans. I really appreciated how honest and revealing PJ's thoughts were about the complicated process of staging the RSC's African Julius Caesar. He truly provides an insider's view, and I was especially pleased that he addressed the issue of casting and race in frank and complex terms.' Ayanna Thompson, George Washington University

'Joseph provides an insightful examination of the process of theatrical creation, in so doing giving the reader an inside look at one actor's approach to how to construct a performance. More than that, this memoir chronicles a widely successful effort, by a historically white theater company, to expand its consideration of Shakespeare's plays and engage with a demographic that is underrepresented in the theater. Written in friendly, accessible prose, the book is suitable-in part or in whole-both for aficionados of the theater and for those studying theater and performance. The book will make an excellent resource for discussion of Julius Caesar as a living piece of theater. Summing Up: Recommended.' CHOICE

'More than the story of an outstanding production, Julius Caesar and Me describes how a working-class, Afro-Carribean boy from Willesden, acutely aware of his racial and linguistic difference, comes to claim Shakespeare as "our greatest British export" ... he provides valuable insights for all.' Times Literary Supplement

'Having played Brutus myself in an all-female production set in a female prison, I was fascinated to read Paterson's analysis and anecdotes about the rehearsal and the building of a character in such a different context from the one I worked in. He tells a great story. His own journey in the RSC and the places to which that led him make this book unique and an inspiration for aspiring black actors everywhere.' Dame Harriet Walter, stage and screen actress

'Through his illuminating narrative and reflections, Joseph demonstrates an enduring passion for Shakespeare's plays and a belief that they still have the power to change perceptions and throw light on life and politics today. 4*'

Meyerhold on Theatre

Bloomsbury Publishing

Meyerhold on Theatre brings together in one volume Vsevolod Meyerhold's most significant writings and utterances, and covers his entire career as a director from 1902 to 1939. It contains a comprehensive selection from all published material, unabridged and translated from the original Russian, updated and supplemented with a critical commentary relating Meyerhold to his period and eye-witness accounts describing all his productions. The book is illustrated with photographs of Meyerhold's designs and productions.

Within this diverse collection of sometimes dense, sometimes lyrical, and always fascinating writings, Meyerhold emerges from this book as a forerunner of such directors as Brecht, Piscator, Planchon and Brook, a relentless enemy of naturalism and a supreme exponent of total theatre whose influence continues to be felt throughout the theatre of today.

This fourth edition features a new introduction by Prof. Jonathan Pitches, which helps to demystify some of the terminology Meyerhold and his associates used, and indicates the fundamental connection between culture and politics represented in his life and art.

'Meyerhold on Theatre is an important, many-faceted book. Meyerhold was a great director - the greatest in my experience as a playgoer . . . Braun has rendered the field of theatre knowledge an invaluable service.' The Nation

'It is rare that books can capture the spirit in which productions happen, but Edward Braun's anthology . . . does transmit not only the swiftly changing contexts in which Meyerhold worked, but the still-relevant impulses which his work embodied, and which have sown the seeds of so much that the modern theatre still grapples with.' Times Literary Supplement

Simon Stephens: A Working Diary

Bloomsbury Publishing

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.

'[A]n illuminating chronicle ... Stephens's diary is not so much about what he did today as about how he thought today, and it is this rigorous thinking that makes it such a pleasure to read ... Those seeking an insight into the working practices of some of the foremost theatre practitioners of our day, and an optimistic interrogation of why art continues to matter in these uncertain times, will be delighted.' Times Literary Supplement

'If I had a theatre book of the month award to give, this would be a runaway winner. There are insights on every page. We see thoughts come and go, we ponder his reflections and we begin to understand how a man like Stephens works.' The Stage

Steppenwolf Theatre Company of Chicago

Bloomsbury Publishing

In 1974, a group of determined, young high school actors started doing plays under the name of Steppenwolf Theatre Company, eventually taking residence in the basement of a church in Highland Park, a suburb of Chicago. Thus began their unlikely journey to become one of the most prominent theatre companies in the world. Steppenwolf Theatre Company has changed the face of American Theatre with its innovative approach that blends dynamic ensemble performance, honest, straightforward acting, and bold, thought-provoking stories to create compelling theatre.

This is the first book to chronicle this iconic theatre company, offering an account of its early years and development, its work, and the methodologies that have made it one of the most influential ensemble theatres today. Through extensive, in-depth interviews conducted by the author with ensemble members, this book reveals the story of Steppenwolf's miraculous rise from basement to Broadway and beyond. Interviewees include co-founders Jeff Perry, Gary Sinise and Terry Kinney, along a myriad of ensemble, staff, board members and others.

'If you love theatre, and particularly ensemble theatre, John Mayer is about to take you on a 'first-time-ever VIP tour' into everything Steppenwolf. Jeff Perry [Mayer] includes extracts from interviews with literally dozens of those that have helped the company to become one of the best and best-known in the world today. Reading about a theatre company that started out in school then conquered the world ... is fascinating. It should persuade readers to do their damnedest to find a Steppenwolf production on stage or screen in the near future and also prove an inspiration to any youngsters considering starting out on the road to a career as an actor, director [or] writer.' British Theatre Guide

Methuen Drama’s Theatre Makers Series celebrates and draws together the work of many of the most seminal theatre makers. Titles within the series comprise of diaries, letters, essays, and first-hand accounts by, as well as interviews with, the most influential theatre practitioners throughout history, past and present. Together, they provide an unprecedented insight into the philosophies and methods of the practitioners that have shaped – and continue to define – what theatre is today.