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.


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