Saturday, January 30, 2010

What's a good Intro to Drama Text?

A former creative writing classmate of mine emailed me to ask if I had any recommendations for a great text for a college Intro to Drama course. I didn't. So I asked Facebook. I've been doing a lot of asking Facebook recently and Facebook is very smart. And I want to remember this list. So I'm publishing it as a blog post so I can find it again.

Here were the comments (names removed)

Peter Nachtrieb anyone know of a good contemporary text on theater and drama that could be used for a college intro drama course? Could also be essayish or texty. Is there anything relatively new?


not sure I totally understand the question but Wellman's Essay "Theater of Good Intentions" and Mamet's "Three Uses of the Knife" are my two favorite contemporary pieces about dramatic writing.

oo yes. I love the Wellman essay too. A friend whose teaching a drama course was on the hunt of a textbook or critical book about drama that would be apropo for a class. these are good essay options

I actually stopped using survey texts because I hate them all. I lecture instead.

I think "Three Uses of the Knife" was pretty instructive for me when I was an undergrad, too.

For intro to lit stuff and analysis, David Ball's Backwards & Forwards is a great book. Short. Direct. Helpful. Published 1983.

Yeah-- B&F is a good one for lit only, but I wouldn't use it for a survey intro class. What's the focus? Is it a modern theatre intro, lit intro, western theatre, world theatre? I've taught about a zillion intro classes-- lol. Is it for majors, nonmajors?

"Backwards & Forwards" indeed. Right on Kathryn.

Turn 'em on to The Empty Space -- Peter Brook Ain't no text book but sure is instructive.

Peter, I use "Theatre" by Robert Cohen.(Mcgraw Hill) It serves as a basis for lectures and discussions for the"new to Theatre student" There is a new edition yearly.....I expect your plays will be in it. He is pretty extensive and covers all aspects from history, practitioners to criticism. I use "The Invisible Actor" by Yoshi Oida as a platform to discuss the actor's art.

These are all good books, but until we know the focus of the survey course, its outcomes, and whether it's major or nonmajor, we can't make practical suggestions, IMO. I've used Empty Space for majors, but I wouldn't use it for freshmen non-majors in a world theatre survey course or in their very first intro to theatre, for example. Most kids in nonmajor intro have never seen a play apart from a Broadway-type musical, church musical, or school play. You only have so many weeks and philosophical treatments sometimes have to take a back seat to jamming in all the countries and/or plays and/or background info you're supposed to be teaching..

I used to use the Cohen! If you want to use a text for a nonmajor intro, the Cohen is a good one.

great responses.

the anne bogart books are pretty fab too

The Oscar Brockett Theater History textbook is good, and Great Reckonings in Little Rooms by Bert States breaks down theater phenomenologically (but it's very readable). I like the Mamet, but also, y'know, there's always the Poetics.

Monday, January 11, 2010

New play feedback meter

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

What Hank for Dinner

The latest Hank Huckle Video

Monday, January 04, 2010

Bob gets a reading in the Bay Area!

Yes it does!

A Reading of a New Play (in progress)
Directed by Sean Daniels
with Bob- Arwen Anderson, Lance Gardner, Delia McDougall Danny Scheie and Danny Wolohan

Monday, January 11, 7:30pm at Stanford University

Contact David Goldman for more information at
Tuesday, January 12, 7pm at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Rehearsal Room A
Contact Jill MacLean for more information and to reserve a space at

About the Play
Bob traces the highly unusual life of Bob. From his modest beginnings, born and abandoned in the bathroom of a White Castle Restaurant, found by a waitress convinced by a fortune cookie that she will one day be mother to a great man, to his childhood on the road in a Chevy Malibu, Bob grows up to be a man on the outskirts of America, living large on its discarded treasures. But Bob, as confused as he is, must one day fulfill his destiny. Will America embrace him, or will they take him down? A side-splitting social satire that roasts the American dream, and celebrates its detritus.

More info here

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Upcoming Productions in January - Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, Dallas and San Diego!

YES 2K10 I welcome you!

There are a bunch of productions of m'shows going up this month. Three west coast productions and one in the DFW! Check 'em out!

Hunter Gatherers @ Washington Ensemble Theatre Seattle, WA

boom @ Theatre Vertigo, Portland, OR

Directed by JoAnn Johnson
Jan 8 - Feb 6

boom @ San Diego Rep, San Diego CA

Directed by Sam Woodhouse
January 9 - 31, 2010
Opening Night: Friday, January 15 at 8pm

boom @ B Street Theatre Sacramento, CA

Hunter Gatherers @ Second Thought Theatre, Dallas TX