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Craft of Comedy
     

Craft of Comedy

by Athene Seyler, Robert Barton
 

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ISBN-10: 0878300392

ISBN-13: 9780878300396

Pub. Date: 05/24/1990

Publisher: Taylor & Francis

Described by The Oxford Companion to Theatre as "essential for all aspiring actors," The Craft of Comedy is witty and exceptionally astute. In a series of letters written to a young man eager to learn from her wealth of experience, Seyler draws on her performances in Restoration Comedy, Shakespeare, Wilde, Maugham, Shaw, and Rattigan. The result is a classic work

Overview

Described by The Oxford Companion to Theatre as "essential for all aspiring actors," The Craft of Comedy is witty and exceptionally astute. In a series of letters written to a young man eager to learn from her wealth of experience, Seyler draws on her performances in Restoration Comedy, Shakespeare, Wilde, Maugham, Shaw, and Rattigan. The result is a classic work on the art and craft of comedy, as important in its own way as works by Stanislavski, Chekhov, or Gordon Craig.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780878300396
Publisher:
Taylor & Francis
Publication date:
05/24/1990
Edition description:
3d ed
Pages:
112
Product dimensions:
8.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 2.00(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Table of Contents

List of plates viii

Acknowledgments x

Introduction 1

Cultural contexts 3

Athene Seyler 7

Stephen Haggard 16

How the book evolved 20

1 Distorted truth 23

Stephen to Athene, June 8, 1939 23

Reply, June 10 24

Summary 27

Concepts: revue comedy, non-comic acting, comic foundation, comic spirit, distorted truth, comic state of mind 27

Exercises: Comic perspective, Adding delight 28

2 Tight-rope walking 31

Stephen to Athene, June 17, 1939 31

Reply, June 30 34

Summary 39

Concepts: comedy through situation, comedy through character, comedy of being out of character, lack of balance, distortion, tight-rope walking, over-statement, over-emphasis, understatement, shared secret, spiritual comprehension, personality, technique 39

Exercises: Personal tendencies, All out of proportion, Both sides now 40

3 Just do it 43

Stephen to Athene, July 20, 1939 43

Reply, July 21 46

Summary 53

Concepts: comedy essentials, national humor, farce, high comedy, comedy vein 53

Exercises: Delicate to broad, Sitting in fear, Bubbling with pleasure 54

4 Trust and confidence 57

Stephen to Athene, November 19, 1939 57

Reply, December 9 61

Summary 65

Concepts: confidence, taking the audience in, topping 66

Exercises: Assurance and creativity, Tricks of the trade 66

5 Rhythm 69

Stephen to Athene, January 15, 1940 69

Reply, January 22 74

Summary 84

Concepts: double take, breaking, rhythm, emphasis, business, breaking up the scene 84

Exercises: Scarfing, Opposition, Max and Anatol 85

6 Comedy of manners 87

Stephen to Athene, February 10, 1940 87

Reply, March 29 90

Summary 94

Concepts: leading up to a laugh, trodding on a laugh, antimodal comedy, three kinds of dramatic expression (poetic drama, straight drama or comedy, artificial or high comedy), leveling of emotion 94

Exercises: Period physical lives, Walk the walks 95

7 Delicate decadence 97

Stephen to Athene, April 18, 1940 97

Reply, April 20 98

Summary 110

Concepts: interest, manners without morals, line delivery, types 110

Exercises: Character distinctions, Relish and detail 111

8 The acting profession 113

Stephen to Athene, May 6, 1940 113

Reply, May 16 115

Stephen to Athene, May 31, 1940 117

Summary 119

Concepts: professional prerequisites, pursuing stardom, career pitfalls, career compensations 120

Exercise: Self-analysis 120

Appendices

A Seyler's second thoughts 121

Summary 123

Concepts: spiritual antiseptic, two kinds of comedy, power of an audience, final enunciation, feed line 123

Exercises: Line or character?, Endings, Post mortem 124

B Fans, trains and stays 127

Applications: training, rehearsal, homework 133

C Plays referenced and scenes for practice 135

D Video clips 137

Athene Seyler 137

Stephen Haggard 138

E Tribute by Prunella Scales 139

F Additional sources - comedy books 143

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