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Writing about Theaterby Christopher Thaiss
Synopses & Reviews
In Hamlet, when the melancholy prince kills Polonius, the dramatic tension is enhanced by the audience's knowledge that Polonius lurks behind the curtain, and that Hamlet will mistake him for his detested stepfather. Though this tension is understood and appreciated by readers of the play, its dynamics of raw intensity are perhaps best understood by the interplay between performers and audience members. By addressing both enthusiasts of theater and enthusiasts of dramatic literature, Thaiss and Davis demonstrate how one's understanding of drama is enriched by critical attention to both performance and text. It specifically addresses the writing needs of a novice playwright, not in conjunction with "writing about literature," but about the play as subject in its own right. This book provides critical analysis of play texts, as well as performance reviews, theater history research, and other examples that enliven understanding and promote versatility. In its sequence of chapters, it addresses projects of increasing sophistication, from performance reviews and play analyses to theater history research and dramatic theory papers. As a general guide to good writing, this book also promotes learning and critical/creative thought. Introductory chapters cover the principles of good writing and offer strategies to help readers overcome writer's block, organize effectively and avoid common usage and style pitfalls. Anyone interested in drama and/or literature.
Table of Contents
1.Distinctive Challenges in Writing about Theater.
Our Sense of the Reader.
The Two Modes of the Play.
Criticism and Reviewing: Capturing the Evanescence of Performance.
Play Analysis and the Performing Text.
Dramatic Theory and the Theatrical Essay.
Summary: The Five Major Kinds of Writing about Theater.
2.Writing Techniques to Increase Learning.
A Question of Attitude: Writing for Yourself.
Writing and Memory: Taking Good Notes.
Writing to Improve Reading: Marginalia and other Annotations.
Writing to Improve Reading: Keeping the Reading Response Log.
Writing to Improve Observation.
Writing to Experiment with Style and Format.
Going Public: From Writing for Yourself to Writing for others.
3.The Writing Process: Predrafting, Drafting, Revising, Editing.
General Principles but No Single Formula.
Predrafting and Data Collection.
Drafting: A Change in Attitude.
Planning the Draft: The Three Keys.
Editing the Revised Draft.
4.The Theater Review and Dramatic Criticism.
Reviewers and Critics.
The Shape of a Review.
Suiting the Review to the Audience: The Three Elements.
“Critical Mass”: Achieving Effective Argument in the Review.
The Practical Critic: A Few Hints.
Connecting the Stage and the Study.
The Text as Blueprint for Production.
Literary Analysis and Functional Analysis.
The Audience, Real and Imaginary.
The Special Characteristics of Plays.
Structure and World View.
Writing the Play Analysis: A Checklist.
A Final Word on Final Words: Crafting a Strong Conclusion.
The Theatrical Lens.
Types of Theater History.
Researching and Writing the Theater History Paper.
Summary: The Three Main Principles.
Sample Theater History Paper.
7.Dramatic Theory and the Theatrical Essay.
Theory or Essay? A Case Study.
Practicing Theory: The Framing Questions.
The Theatrical Essay.
8.Sources for Research in Theater and How to Cite Them.
Rules for Citation of Sources.
MLA “Works Cited” Guide.
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