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Southern Illinois University Press
Backwards and Forwards: A Technical Manual for Reading Plays / Edition 2

Backwards and Forwards: A Technical Manual for Reading Plays / Edition 2

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The best-selling script analysis book for thirty-five years

Considered an essential text since its publication thirty-five years ago, this guide for students and practitioners of both theater and literature complements, rather than contradicts or repeats, traditional methods of literary analysis of scripts.

Ball developed his method during his work as literary director at the Guthrie Theater, building his guide on the crafts playwrights of every period and style use to make their plays stageworthy. The text is full of tools for students and practitioners to use as they investigate plot, character, theme, exposition, imagery, conflict, theatricality, and the other crucial parts of the superstructure of a play. Also included are guides for discovering what the playwright considers a play’ s most important elements, thus permitting interpretation based on the foundation of the play rather than its details.

Using Shakespeare’s Hamlet as illustration, Ball assures a familiar base for clarifying script-reading techniques as well as exemplifying the kinds of misinterpretation readers can fall prey to by ignoring the craft of the playwright. Of immense utility to those who want to put plays on the stage (actors, directors, designers, production specialists) Backwards & Forwards is also a fine playwriting manual because the structures it describes are the primary tools of the playwright.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780809311101
Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press
Publication date: 07/01/1983
Edition description: 1st Edition
Pages: 112
Sales rank: 77,098
Product dimensions: 5.37(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.60(d)
Lexile: 1010L (what's this?)

About the Author

David Ball was one of the nation’s first theater literary directors when he served under Michael Langham at Minneapolis’s Guthrie Theater. He later taught acting, directing, and script analysis at Lawrence, Carnegie Mellon, and Duke Universities. He was the artistic director of Pittsburgh’s renowned Metro Theater and the literary director of the Pittsburgh Public Theater. David Ball’s plays and adaptations have been frequently staged at professional repertory theaters throughout the United States and in Europe, including most recently his landmark adaptations of Moliere’s Tartuffe, The Miser, and The Imaginary Invalid. His former theater and film students hold Oscars, Obies, Tonys, and Emmys, and his own work has been supported by the Ford, McKnight, and Shubert Foundations, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Table of Contents

 Foreword to the 2017 Edition
Foreword to the 1983 Edition

Part One: Shape 7
1. What Happens That Makes Something Else Happen?
2. And What Happens Next?
3. But Do It Backwards
4. Stasis and Intrusion
5. Obstacle, Conflict
6. Ignorance Is Bliss
7. Things Theatrical

Part Two: Methods
8. Exposition
9. Forwards: Hungry for Next
10. Missing Persons (Character)
11. Image
12. Theme

Part Three: Tricks of the Trade
13. Background Information
14. Trusting the Playwright
15. Families
16. Generalities: Mood, Atmosphere
17. The Unique Factor
18. Changing Eras
19. Climax
20. Beginnings/Endings
21. Rereading
22. What Next?


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