I am frequently astonished by the imaginative range of performing arts titles which continue to flow from specialist publishers.
Take learning how to read play scripts imaginatively and intelligently. Robert Knopf’s Script Analysis for Theatre (Bloomsbury) has masses of advice for theatre students and professionals in the early stages of their careers. With exemplar focus on plays such as Twelfth Night, The Importance of Being Earnest and Hedda Gabler the advice is detailed, practical and readily transferrable.
Making successful immersive theatre is another aspect of performing arts which takes specialist skills as companies such as Punchdrunk, OneOhOne and Hobo Theatre ably demonstrate by putting the audience at the centre of their work. Creating Worlds: How To Make Immersive Theatre by Jason Warren (NHB) offers a thorough step-by-step guide from working out what sort of show you want to make all the way through to tips and strategies for marketing it.
Then there are play texts – and anyone remotely interested in theatre and drama should be reading more plays. An interviewee, who told me last week that he abandoned a drama degree at Warwick after seven weeks because it was so dull, recalls just one good aspect – the weekly class which required students to read ten plays before each session. Contemporary Plays From Iraq translated and edited by A. Al-Azraki and James Al-Shamma (Bloomsbury) consists of nine plays, reading which will teach you a lot about life in Iraq and allows you to see war and occupation from a point of view which is probably different from your usual position.
Samuel French have recently sent me a pile of their latest published play scripts of which two of the most interesting are Treasure Island by Bryony Lavery and Hedda Gabler; This is not a love story in a new version by Anne and Karin Bamborough. The former manages to be both (a bit) swashbuckling and imaginatively sensitive. It would work well for amateurs because it needs seven women and sixteen men so there’s plenty for a large cast to do. The latter, which was co-produced by A Northern Stage and Greyscale in Newcastle earlier this year is an appealingly spare, incisive take on Ibsen’s play.