Gr 4-6Budding thespians will find a wealth of good ideas in this clear and concise step-by-step guide. Similar to the authors' Young Producer's Video Book (Millbrook, 1995), this title divides the process of putting on a play into six steps, covering everything from brainstorming an idea to the final performance. Mime, improvisation, skits, monodramas, reader's theater, adaptations; and radio, puppet, one-act, full-length, and musical plays are all introduced and defined, with suggestions for creating original scripts. While a few details of directing and performing are included, the bulk of the text is spent on the specifics of scriptwriting, discussing concepts such as theme, conflict, characters, setting, dialogue, and plot structure. The colored-pencil cartoon drawings offer a good mix of ethnic diversity, and both genders are well represented; however, the owls (used to point out bits of wisdom) might seem a bit childish compared to the rest of the work. Terms are defined in context and clarified by abundant examples. While the excerpts from five sample scripts are geared to younger children, the writing is neither trite nor condescending; rather, the scripts are interesting, well-structured models. Although the scriptwriting process is clearly explained, the directing aspects are covered in a more superficial manner, making this part of the process seem rather simplistic. Nevertheless, this is a well-constructed guide with much child appeal. Pair with the authors' earlier title and Carol Adorjan and Yuri Rasovsky's WKID: Easy Radio Plays (Albert Whitman, 1988) for the start of an enticing performing arts collection.Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI
The collaborators behind The Young Producer's Video Book (1995, not reviewed) cast this book, subtitled "The Young Playwright's Guide to Scripting, Directing, and Performing," in the same format: an easy-to-read how-to-do-it guide, with a welcome emphasis on the structure and content of the drama rather than on the technicalities of acting and production. The authors cover various types of plays (pantomime, improvisation, skits, etc.); steps to writing plays (character, setting, dialogue, action, conflict, plot, and theme); and stages in production (responsibilities of the various crew members, auditions and rehearsals, and the rudiments of acting and directing). Excerpts from five sample scripts, each from a different type of drama, bring the book to a close.
An admirably lucid and concise presentation of the essentials of stagecraft, with plenty of encouragement for aspiring thespians.