Backwards and Forwards: A Technical Manual for Reading Plays

Edition: 1st
Format: Paperback
Pub. Date: 1983-07-07
Publisher(s): UCP
List Price: $23.47

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This guide to playreading for students and practitioners of both theater and literature complements, rather then contradicts or repeats, traditional methods of literary analysis of scripts. Ball developed his method during his work as Literary Director at the Guthrie Theater, building his guide on the crafts playwrights of every period and style use to make their plays stageworthy. The text is full of tools for students and practitioners to use as they investigate plot, character, theme, exposition, imagery, motivation/obstacle/conflict, theatricality, and the other crucial parts of the superstructure of a play. He includes guides for discovering what the playwright considers the play's most important elements, thus permitting interpretation based on the foundation of the play rather than its details. UsingHamletas illustration, Ball assures a familiar base for illustrating script-reading techniques as well as examples of the kinds of misinterpretation readers can fall prey to by ignoring the craft of the playwright. Of immense utility to those who want to put plays on the stage (actors, directors, designers, production specialists)Backwards and Forwardsis also a fine playwriting manual because the structures it describes are the primary tools of the playwright.

Author Biography

David Ball is Professor of playwriting, acting, theater history, and literature at Carnegie-Mellon University and Artistic Director, Pittsburgh Metropolitan Stage Company. He has published two plays, Assassin! and an adaptation of Woyzeck, and has written and directed more than one hundred plays in professional, academic, and community theaters.

Table of Contents

Foreword vii
Introduction 3(4)
Part One: Shape 7(30)
1. What Happens That Makes Something Else Happen?
2. And What Happens Next?
3. But Do It Backwards
4. Stasis and Intrusion
5. Obstacle, Conflict
6. Ignorance Is Bliss
7. Things Theatrical
Part Two: Methods 37(42)
8. Exposition
9. Forwards: Hungry for Next
10. Missing Persons (Character)
11. Image
12. Theme
Part Three: Tricks of the Trade 79
13. Background Information
14. Trusting the Playwright
15. Families
16. Generalities: Mood, Atmosphere
17. The Unique Factor
18. Changing Eras
19. Climax
20. Beginnings/Endings
21. Rereading
22. What Next?

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