From Belasco to Brook

From Belasco to Brook : Representative Directors of the English-Speaking Stage

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This multifaceted study, the companion volume to Leiter's From Stanislavsky to Barrault: Representative Directors of the European Stage (Greenwood Press, 1991), provides exhaustively detailed, yet compact accounts of the careers and accomplishments of eight outstanding directors of the English-speaking stage as well as separate, thorough bibliographies and chronologies of each. Samuel L. Leiter selected directors David Belasco, Harley Granville-Barker, George Abbott, Sir Tyrone Guthrie, Margaret Webster, Elia Kazan, Joan Littlewood, and Peter Brook as exemplars of the broad spectrum of directorial art as it has developed in the twentieth century; his cogent introduction identifies salient aspects of that art and reveals the wide divergence of directorial styles and techniques employed by the group. From commercial to classic to avant garde, their stylistic attitudes toward production include Belasco's minutely detailed naturalism, Guthrie's whimsical interpretations of the classics, and Littlewood's improvisational, anti-establishment, left-wing stance. Their varied rehearsal methods show how these directorial greats transformed the nature of the theatre experience through their unique vision of what stage production could encompass. Innovations by these directors in both the shape and function of the performance space are highlighted as are their theatre writings, many of which form the foundation for Western theatrical thought in our times.

Following the introduction, each of the eight chapters is organized into subsections that discuss the individual director's career, concept of theatre art and directing, and actual working methods. Each director is thoroughly assessed in terms of repertory, major productions, theoretical concerns, casting methods, rehearsal processes, and techniques of working with actors, playwrights, designers, and composers. Separate chronologies and a select bibliography complete the work, which will have significant appeal to a diverse group of readers, from stage directing students and their teachers to active professionals in the field and those general readers seeking a broader understanding of twentieth century theatre and stage direction. An excellent choice for text or supplementary reading for classes in stage directing.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 163.58 x 243.08 x 29.72mm | 689.46g
  • Praeger Publishers Inc
  • Westport, United States
  • English
  • 0313276625
  • 9780313276620

Table of contents

Preface Introduction David Belasco, 1853-1931 Harley Granville-Barker, 1877-1946 George Abbott, 1887- Sir Tyrone Guthrie, 1900-1971 Margaret Webster, 1905-1971 Elia Kazan, 1909- Joan Littlewood, 1915- Peter Brook, 1925- Select Bibliography Index
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Review quote

"If the work of theater actors is evanescent, the work of theater directors is not only difficult to remember, it is notoriously difficult to identify even as one sees a production. But directors have been crucial in shaping 20th-century theater so it is a joyous occasion when the work of a number of leading directors of 20th-century, English-speaking theater is analyzed with such care, research, and insight into the vicissitudes of the theater process as is the case in Leiter's book. A companion volume by Leiter on European directors, From Stanislavsky to Barrault, has just been issued by the same publisher. Just as directors must adapt to the demands of particular productions, Leiter adapts each chapter to the requirements presented by its subject; but in all, attention is paid to work with actors, work with designers, work with scripts, rehearsal process, funding, and audiences. By the time one has finished the book, the reader has confronted not only the work of outstanding directors (Belasco, Granville-Barker, Abbott, Guthrie, Webster, Kazan, Littlewood, and Brook) but 20th-century theater itself. Excellent notes, chronologies, and index. Strongly recommended for all theater collections in both public and academic libraries."-Choice
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About Samuel Leiter

SAMUEL L. LEITER is Professor of Theatre at Brooklyn College, City University of New York. His previously published books include Kabuki Encyclopedia

n Seasons: New York Theatre in the Seventies

The Encyclopedia of the New York Stage, 1920-1930 and The Encyclopedia of the New York Stage 1930-1940 (Greenwood Press, 1979, 1986, 1985, and 1989). He also edited Shakespeare Around the Globe: A Guide to Notable Postwar Revivals (Greenwood, 1986). Professor Leiter is editor of the Asian Theatre Journal.
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