The Drama Handbook: A Guide to Reading Plays

Author(s): John Lennard


This book is a compact guide to reading plays, and to the art and techniques of drama. Ranging from classical Greece to modern Drama and performance, but with particular emphasis on the playwrights (including Shakespeare) who are most widely taught and performed, the Handbook covers the whole range of literary, aesthetic, and political questions attending drama, from theatre designs and acting styles to audience composition and editing printed texts. Looking closely at both text and performance, successive sections give clear and detailed information about the conventions of playtexts, the histories of genre, performance spaces, and theatre personnel, as well as current theatre practices. Each chapter also provides an appropriate technical and critical vocabulary, conveniently gathered in a full, indexed glossary. A final section, dealing with drama essays and exams, includes sample student essays, and the bibliography includes targeted further reading as well as extensive guides to playwrights in print and plays on film. Lucid, practical, and thorough, this book is an invaluable resource for anyone who reads plays.


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Could be read with profit and pleasure by any theatregoer. Steven Poole, The Guardian A good basic introduction for first year students to problems of reading plays as performance texts, i.e. reading theatrically. Professor R. A. Cave, Royal Holloway

Introduction; I. PERFORMANCE, NOTATION, TEXT; 1. Performance: process and the ephemeral; 2. Notation: documentation, layout, and the preserved; 3. Text I: editing and reception; 4. Text II: the process of reading; II. READING STRUCTURES; 5. What is genre?; 6. Classical genres: tragedy, comedy, satyr-playes, epic; 7. Religious genres: the liturgy, Mysteries, Moralities; 8. Renaissance genres: Commedia dell'arte, tragicomedy, masque, opera; 9. Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century genres: burlesque, sentimental & gothic drama, pantomime, melodrama, music-hall, farce, well-made plays; 10. Social genres: political theatre, agit-prop, documentary and epic drama; 11. The impact of technology: light, sound, radio- & television-plays, film-genres; III. DEFINING ARCHITECTURES; 12. The study; 13. Rehearsal and administrative space; 14. The stage and auditorium; 15. The scriptorium, printshop, publishing house, bookshop, and library; IV. PERSONNEL IN PROCESS; 16. Playwrights; 17. Directors; 18. Actors; 19. Dramaturgs and literary managers; 20. Designers; 21. Production staff, stage-crew, and front-of-house; 22. Censors; 23. Audiences; 24. Critics; 25. Editors; 26. Teachers and readers; V. THEATRE TODAY; 27. The playtext since the 1950s; 28. Challenges to the playtext; 29. Alternatives to the playtext; VI. EXAM CONDITIONS; 30. Practical criticism; 31. Period and special papers; 32. Sample answers; GLOSSARY; INDEX OF PERSONS; INDEX OF PLAYS; BIBLIOGRAPHY AND FURTHER READING

General Fields

  • : 9780198700708
  • : Oxford University Press
  • : Oxford University Press
  • : 0.538
  • : January 2002
  • : 216mm X 138mm X 22mm
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : John Lennard
  • : Paperback
  • : English
  • : 432
  • : 8 line drawings