Three new practical how-to books have landed on my desk along with one rather more academic title.
Whether you’re auditioning for a part in a show, for drama school or for entry to an organisation like National Youth Theatre it can be very difficult – given inexperience and, maybe, lack of informed up-to-date advice – to find exactly the right piece. You need something well written, probably gender and age appropriate which enables you to show the very best that you can do.
In National Youth Theatre Monologues (Nick Hern Books) experienced director Michael Bryher, himself a former NYT member who went on to train at LAMDA, has identified seventy five interesting possibilities some of which audition panels won’t have heard hundreds of times before. One powerful speech by Freddie and one by Diane, for example, from Evan Placey’s Consensual the current NYT revival and I’m pleased to see the inclusion of a piece from Dan Reballato’s 2005 play Outright Terror Bold and Brilliant about the London bombings too. It’s a pretty eclectic selection and a useful book for anyone at the start of his or her journey towards an acting career
As always the advice is that the auditionee should always have read the rest of the play and that’s partly why each monologue is preceded by three pages of support information including where you can find the full text, a section about the playwright and the production history of the piece. The “Things to Think About” box will help some auditionees to marshal their thoughts and the basic facts about the sex, age, accent and so on of the character along with a scene summary are all a good starting point.
Victoria Deiorio’s The Art of Theatrical Sound Design (Methuen Drama) is strong on the science of sound and how the ear receives it as well as providing advice and lessons in how to apply artistic ideas to the stage through the medium of sound. Deirorio is a respected sound designer for theatre and film as well as Head of Sound Design for the Theatre School at DePaul University, Chicago.
Nearer home, practising lighting designer Nick Moran leads the lighting courses at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and it’s good to see a new edition of his Performance Lighting Design (Methuen Drama). It takes the reader from first principles – how light works and the tools at the designer’s disposal all the way to tips on how to build a career in lighting once you’ve grasped techniques such as using a lighting score or a ground plan. And it’s all supported with very practical diagrams and examples from productions.
And finally to Ecologies of Precarity in Twenty First Century Theatre (Methuen Drama) by Marissia Fragkou who teaches performing arts at Canterbury Christ Church University. Her interest is in ways in which political issues are addressed in contemporary theatre and she mostly uses a feminist template as she considers the work of playwrights such as Simon Stephens, Carol Churchill, Mike Bartlett and debbie tucker green.