Author Topic: Essential Theatre Books  (Read 7188 times)

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ReyYaySM

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Essential Theatre Books
« on: Sep 11, 2006, 10:57 am »
I am always interested in expanding my theatrical vocabulary and knowledge and am curious about what others consider the essential, must read books about theatre.  Whether they be about acting, directing, stage craft, stage management, theatre history, etc, what books do you consider as fundamental reading about our craft? 

Thomas Kelly's Backstage Guide to Stage Management and Lawrence Stern's Stage Management top my list for SM books, and Uta Hagen's Respect for Acting is one of my favorite acting books. 

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Re: Essential Theatre Books
« Reply #1 on: Sep 11, 2006, 12:00 pm »
This was recommended to me by my stage management lecturer, and I finally tripped over a copy some years after graduating. I found it to be a great read and a wonderful insight into the mind and process of an actor and of a big institutional theatre company (RSC) -The book?  The Year of the King by Antony Sher. First published in the UK in 1985 by Methuen. Five Stars!
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Mac Calder

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Re: Essential Theatre Books
« Reply #2 on: Sep 11, 2006, 07:46 pm »
If you are after books to expand your skillset:

Lighting: "A Practical Guide to Stage Lighting" by Steven Louis Shelley is a good entry point

Set construction/...: "Stage Crafts" by Chris Hoggett is quite old, but still a very useful read.

Sound: "Theatre Sound" by John Leonard - JL is a very famouse british west end sound designer.

Rigging: "An Introduction to Rigging in the Entertainment Industry" by Chris Higgs is a good place to start.

As for stage management... Laurence Stern is the pot of gold as far as books go. I have not seen a better one.

hbelden

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Re: Essential Theatre Books
« Reply #3 on: Sep 12, 2006, 01:50 pm »
For Shakespeare:

Must-have reference books are "A Shakespeare Glossary" by C.T. Onions and "All the Words on Stage: A Complete Pronunciation Dictionary" by Louis Scheeder and Shane Ann Younts.

I always begin every Shakespeare production by reading the current Arden edition of the play (Arden is currently replacing their second series - published 30-40 years ago - with the third series, which is nonpareil for editing standards, and they're about halfway through the canon).

For acting books about Shakespeare, I recommend "Playing Shakespeare" by John Barton and "Freeing Shakespeare's Voice" by Kristin Linklater.

Somewhat unrelated but found useful by Marin Shakespeare Company is "Swashbuckling: a step-by-step guide to the art of stage combat and theatrical swordplay" by Richard Lane.  He's a great guy and the book is clear with lots of pictures.
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BalletPSM

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Re: Essential Theatre Books
« Reply #4 on: Sep 12, 2006, 04:12 pm »
I second "The Year of the King"

I also am a big fan of Ann Bogart's "A Director Prepares." 
Stage managing is getting to do everything your mom told you not to do - read in the dark, sit too close to the TV, and play with the light switches!

Balletdork

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Re: Essential Theatre Books
« Reply #5 on: Sep 13, 2006, 09:38 am »
In Search of Theater by Eric Bentley

The Director's Companion by Mel Shapiro

A Practical Handbook for the Actor by Melissa Bruder, Lee Michael Cohn, Madeleine Olnek, Nathaniel Pollack, Robert Previto, Scott Zigler

Backstage Handbook an illustrated almanac of technical information by Paul Carter

Designing with Light an introduction to stage lighting by J. Michael Gillette

The Stage Management Handbook by Daniel Ionazzi

The Dancer's Body Book by Allegra Kent

and

101 Stories of the Great Ballet's George Balanchine

These are all basic introduction type books- I still use them to teach from!


stagemonkey

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Re: Essential Theatre Books
« Reply #6 on: Sep 13, 2006, 11:40 am »
Not neccessarily a book to read but definately a good one to have around is "Pocket Reference Book" from the toolsforstagecraft.com website.  Has all kinds of useful knowledge, in the current show I'm working on now during rehearsal we were having discussion how big of a bed we needed and I was able to pull it out with a tape measure and show the director exactly how big each bed size would be.  Of course it has a lot of other useful facts that will even tell you the scale of how hot different chili peppers are.

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Re: Essential Theatre Books
« Reply #7 on: Sep 16, 2006, 02:09 pm »
Good general for all theatre types:

"Technical Theater for Nontechnical People"
By Drew Campbell
Philip LaDue
Shore Production Group LLC
IATSE Local #21 Newark, NJ

TechGal

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Re: Essential Theatre Books
« Reply #8 on: Sep 17, 2006, 05:41 pm »
Good general for all theatre types:

"Technical Theater for Nontechnical People"
By Drew Campbell

Does a good job of breaking down all the different departments.  I recommended it to a friend who was directing a high school show for the first time.  He had absolutely no tech background whatsoever and said that this book really helped him understand and put things in perspective. 

MarcieA

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Re: Essential Theatre Books
« Reply #9 on: Sep 17, 2006, 10:30 pm »
Has anyone used this book:   
 
Stage Management Forms and Formats: A Collection of over 100 Forms Ready to Use
by Barbara Dilker

An actor I'm working with asked if I had ever heard of it, but I haven't.
Companions whom I loved and still love, tell them my song.

fuzzy_7

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Re: Essential Theatre Books
« Reply #10 on: Sep 18, 2006, 12:13 am »
Stage Management Forms and Formats is a really helpful book for someone who doesn't have a routine down, but if you are more experienced I would suggest you stick with what you know.
Derek A. Fuzzell

Balletdork

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Re: Essential Theatre Books
« Reply #11 on: Sep 18, 2006, 09:34 am »
I think I remember the forms and formats book- but it is out of date- I don't know many SM's using the versions of paperwork discussed in that book... if it's the same book?  ???

Waghorn

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Re: Essential Theatre Books
« Reply #12 on: Sep 20, 2006, 01:08 pm »
In Canada we have a book called Stage Managing The Arts (S.M.Arts) in Canada by Winson Morgan. It is extremely helpful although I imagine it wouldn't be as useful for non- Canadians since it references our Theatre Agreement a fair bit.
 
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Mac Calder

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Re: Essential Theatre Books
« Reply #13 on: Sep 20, 2006, 04:49 pm »
I am not a fan of "Forms and Formats" - I like to customise my paperwork on a show by show basis, and feel that pre-made forms look tackey. It is a decent source of ideas I suppose, but I would not purchase it.

Jessie_K

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Re: Essential Theatre Books
« Reply #14 on: Oct 31, 2006, 02:56 pm »
A good one for those of us who tour internationally:

Theatre Words (available at http://www.theatrewords.com/)

It list all common backstage words in bunches of different languages and has diagrams w/ multi-lingual labels.

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