Joan's Book: The Autobiography of Joan Littlewood

Joan's Book: The Autobiography of Joan Littlewood

by Joan Littlewood
     
 

Others write plays, direct them and act in them: [Joan Littlewood] alone "makes theatre" (Kenneth Tynan)

Alongside Peter Brook, Joan Littlewood has come to be known as the most galvanising director of mid-20th-century Britain, as well as a founder of so many of the practices of contemporary theatre, affectionately being termed "The Mother of Modern

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Overview

Others write plays, direct them and act in them: [Joan Littlewood] alone "makes theatre" (Kenneth Tynan)

Alongside Peter Brook, Joan Littlewood has come to be known as the most galvanising director of mid-20th-century Britain, as well as a founder of so many of the practices of contemporary theatre, affectionately being termed "The Mother of Modern Theatre".

Littlewood took her principles from the work of Stanislavski, Meyerhold, Brecht and Laban, and used them to influence her own methods of actor training. A fundamental trait of the company's methods under Littlewood's leadership was improvisation within rehearsal. The company's best-known work included the development and premieres of Shelagh Delaney's A Taste of Honey, Brendan Behan's The Hostage and The Quare Fellow, and the iconic Oh What A Lovely War.

This autobiography offers an unparalleled first-hand account of Littlewood's extraordinary life and career, from illegitimate child in south-east London to one of the most influential directors and practitioners of the twentieth century. It is published here in Methuen Drama's Theatre Makers series with a new introduction by Philip Hedley CBE, previously Artistic Director of Theatre Royal Stratford East and Assistant Director to Joan Littlewood.

'Joan [Littlewood] was a revolutionary and a visionary. She changed the course of British theatre. She opened the doors to a different breed of actor' Sheila Hancock

'Once upon a time the London theatre was a charming mirror held up to cosiness. Then came Joan Littlewood, smashing the glass, blasting the walls, letting the wind of life blow in a rough but ready world. Today, we remember this irresistible force with love and gratitude.' Peter Brook

The edition also features an updated foreword by Peter Rankin.

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Editorial Reviews

Guardian

[This book] is big: nearly eight hundred pages. But then so is her life. For Joan Littlewood's unorthodox autobiography is a noisy, rumbustious, compulsively readable account of her attempt to create, through Theatre Workshop, something unseen in Britain since Shakespeare's day: a high-quality popular theatre. What emerges is a graphic contradictory portrait of a brilliant, restless animateur: a romantic revolutionary with a strong streak of Cockney common sense. You put down this turbulent, often moving book reflecting that the greatest paradox of all is that, although this particular Pope Joan has no children, she has left her indelible imprint on British theatre and has bequeathed us countless heirs.
Daily Telegraph

This is not a tidy elegant memoir, but it is a rather wonderful one. [It's] funny, generous, warm-hearted, irreverent and bawdy . . . a memoir that ought to become a classic of the kind she admires - vital, energetic, full of hope and riotous laughter.
TLS

The tumult of [this book] is testimony to one of the great creative forces of our time. Like the Shakespearean character with whom she has most in common, she has, in her way, once again voiced her own unanswerable demands, betraying neither 'faith, truth nor womanhood' in the process.
Financial Times

You do not have to be even halfway interested in theatre to relish this welter of a book. It is compulsive, elusive and maddening. Read it.
Spectator

This is a book that anyone who works in the theatre, loves the theatre or hates the theatre, is under absolute obligation to buy. Joan Littlewood is the greatest theatre director of the present century, knocking possible rivals like Max Reinhardt and Jean-Louis Barrault into a cocked hat when it comes to intelligence, originality and the incalculable influence for good she has had on theatre all over the world.
Evening Standard

This exhilarating autobiography, abrasive, impudent, grossly opinionated, and like her best theatre work, a fine piece of popular entertainment.
Sir Peter Hall

It's as if she's talking to you, the reader - and she could certainly talk. All her prejudices and insecurities are here. But so is her extraordinary life-giving energy. She could touch genius.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780413773180
Publisher:
Bloomsbury Academic
Publication date:
09/01/2003
Series:
Biography and Autobiography Series
Pages:
832
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.40(d)

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