Tag Archives: Book Review

Book Review: ‘New Dramaturgy’

edited by Katalin Trencsenyi and Bernadette Cochrane

As a maker of and writer about theatre, I often find myself wanting different, often contradictory, things from literature on the subject. With my critic’s hat on, I’m interested in the way in which a particular subject can plug into the wider landscape, to give a better understanding of the form for the reader and open up discourse. As someone who makes the stuff, however, I find myself looking for technical insight and ideas which can help my own practice. Granted, these two things aren’t mutually exclusive, but it can be hard to find texts which satiate both appetites. Reading Richard Eyre’s National Service, for example, you get the feeling that anyone would find this fascinating, whilst Stephen Unwin’s The Complete Brecht Toolkit is clearly written for a far more niche audience. Continue reading Book Review: ‘New Dramaturgy’

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Book Review: ‘Passionate Amateurs’ by Nicholas Ridout

*Originally written for A Younger Theatre*

The subtitle of Nicholas Ridout’s Passionate Amateurs: Theatre, Communism and Love, and its central argument – “that theater in modern capitalism can help us think afresh about notions of work, time and freedom” – may betray an idea of the work as one of niche interest, useful only to the academic and the geek. But though Ridout’s study is intent on adding to the academic discourse surrounding labour and performance, it also holds wider resonance within present debates about pay and work in the theatrical landscape. By deconstructing notions of leisure, freedom, necessity and community, Passionate Amateurs interrogates liberal and centre-left theatrical ideologies, and in doing so reinvigorates a discussion which has become dormant within the structures of late capitalism.

This is a book about neither community theatre nor communist theatre, though as Ridout observes there are books with the same title to be written about both subjects. Continue reading Book Review: ‘Passionate Amateurs’ by Nicholas Ridout

“Credible Likeable Superstar Rolemodel”

at the Soho Theatre, Thursday 10th October 2013

*Originally written for Exeunt*

At the end of the new musical The Commitments, the audiences are almost aggressively told to stand up and dance along to the rendition of Mustang Sally taking place on stage. If we oblige, it’s only because there may be someone else stood in front blocking our view and it could be awkward to stay seated. But there’s something about it’s happy-clappy optimism which makes you feel empty and depressed. Just around the corner at the Soho Theatre, however, Bryony Kimmings’ Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model effortlessly manages to get a hundred adults to do an animal dance, and contrary to its heartbreaking, tear-inducing final note, leaves you optimistic that you can go out into the “real world” and change it.

Even those of us who didn’t see the show in Edinburgh have probably experienced Catherine Bennett in some way by now;
Continue reading “Credible Likeable Superstar Rolemodel”

Book Review: ‘Theatre Making’ by Duška Radosavljević

*Originally written for A Younger Theatre*

The title of Duška Radosavljević’s Theatre-making would, you’d expect, refer to professionals who actively do the making, creating works of art for others to experience. And it is, in a big way, about these people. Central to Radosavljević’s argument, however, is the idea that practitioners aren’t the only people who are making theatre. By focussing on work like Tim Crouch’s The Author, Ontroerend Goed’s Internal and Simon Stephens’ Three Kingdoms, Theatre-making presents the notion of audience as co-creators, so that by the end of this hugely readable study, the title takes on a whole new meaning; all of us are discovered to be theatre-makers, no matter what our relationship to the piece in question.

The subtitle to Radosavljević’s book is The Interplay Between Text and Performance in the 21st Century, Continue reading Book Review: ‘Theatre Making’ by Duška Radosavljević