Theatre “How-to” Reading List by Elizabeth Heffron
“Got some pockets of time during the current pandemic? Here are five valuable ‘how-to’ books on theater that I keep coming back to…
1.) The Elements of Playwriting, by Louis E. Catron – a basic guide to writing plays that has been around a long time. There are a couple really excellent chapters, including one entitled ‘What Makes a Play?’ which is a succinct and insightful summation of the dramatic form.
2.) The Dramatist’s Toolkit, The Craft of the Working Playwright, by Jeffrey Sweet. Sweet is a working playwright with a craftsperson’s eye and way of explaining what fires the form. His sections on working with Objects and the power of Negotiations are incredibly helpful.
3.) Backwards & Forwards, A Technical Manual for Reading Plays, by David Ball. Although intended for directors and actors, the way Ball explains how conflict is built is gold for writers.
4.) and then, you act. making art in an unpredictable world, by Anne Bogart. This book is inspiring for all theater creators, especially when thinking about a work that might not follow a standard Western well-made play structure. Her section on ‘Magnetism’ and the elements that combine to generate powerful, must-be-watched performance I could read over and over.
5.) Letters to a Young Artist, by Anna Deveare Smith. This book is so human and useful to theater artists of any age. Deveare Smith is both an actor and a playwright, so she’s got really astute tips in here that see the work from a number of angles.”
Elizabeth Heffron’s Playwriting I & III classes, part of Freehold’s Spring 2020 Online offerings begin Sunday, April 12 and Tuesday, April 14. More information and registration HERE.