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Books on Directing

Inigomontoya
Stand-by
joined:6/24/07
Books on Directing
Posted: 10/7/12 at 08:14pm
Is there a book on directing for the stage that you could recomend for me? I remember seeing in the drama book shop a book with a black cover that someone recommend as a must read for new directors but I can't remember the name of the book.

Also, is there any good book you'd recomend about stage design?

THEATRICAL100
Featured Actor
joined:9/12/10
Books on Directing
Posted: 10/7/12 at 08:18pm
Most definitely Stage Craft by John Caird.
Marla: I have to go sing about a life I never led.
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xxdrewboy85xx
Broadway Star
joined:5/17/07
Books on Directing
Posted: 10/7/12 at 09:06pm
Notes on Directing- Frank Hauser
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luvtheEmcee
Broadway Legend
joined:12/9/03
Books on Directing
Posted: 10/7/12 at 11:40pm
From your description, this isn't the book you have in mind, but my favorite is A Sense of Direction by William Ball. It was recommended by an actor I really admire, and I found it useful.
A work of art is an invitation to love.
Musicaldudepeter
Broadway Star
joined:3/18/10
Books on Directing
Posted: 10/8/12 at 05:57am
Read 'Mainly on Directing' by Arthur Laurents... It'll really "inspire" you...
Inigomontoya
Stand-by
joined:6/24/07
Books on Directing
Posted: 10/8/12 at 06:59am
Thanks guys, do you have any good books on interesting stage design as well?
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aaronb
Broadway Star
joined:6/3/12
Books on Directing
Posted: 10/8/12 at 10:22am
I think anything written by Mamet about the stage should be really useful--even if it's not explicitly about directing.
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xxdrewboy85xx
Broadway Star
joined:5/17/07
Books on Directing
Posted: 10/8/12 at 02:25pm
"I think anything written by Mamet about the stage should be really useful--even if it's not explicitly about directing."

Unless you're one of the many directors/ acting teachers/ etc., that disagree with everything Mamet.
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lotiloti
Leading Actor
joined:1/23/06
Books on Directing
Posted: 10/9/12 at 02:00pm
If there are, could someone send it to the director of 'Finding Neverland' Because he is frankly, clueless.
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luvtheEmcee
Broadway Legend
joined:12/9/03
Books on Directing
Posted: 10/9/12 at 02:56pm
"I think anything written by Mamet about the stage should be really useful--even if it's not explicitly about directing."

Unless you're one of the many directors/ acting teachers/ etc., that disagree with everything Mamet.


I don't know, I think it can be useful to read things you disagree with, since it can be equally important to know what you don't like and why as to know what you do. Always good to know another point of view; it'll help strengthen yours.
A work of art is an invitation to love.
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SondheimFan5
Broadway Legend
joined:6/20/10
Books on Directing
Posted: 10/9/12 at 03:04pm
I second Arthur Laurents' "Mainly on Directing." While it primarily focuses on his direction of the revivals of Gypsy and West Side, he also talks about La Cage, Anyone Can Whistle, and other shows. It's good to be familiar with the shows (or at least Gypsy and West Side) prior to reading it.

A great read, and he has an interesting perspective, as he was both a director and playwrite.
Musicaldudepeter
Broadway Star
joined:3/18/10
Books on Directing
Posted: 10/9/12 at 03:06pm
*playwright

I was joking re Laurents' book, because it's basically a big attack on poor Sam Mendes. That book would scare any director away who wanted to try something 'different' with a classic show...lol. But I have to agree with you to a certain extent, it's a good read.
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Someone in a Tree2
Broadway Star
joined:10/9/12
Books on Directing
Posted: 10/9/12 at 03:42pm
Books on Design: 3 terrific books each devoted to one of the greats of Broadway design of the last century.

MIELZINER by Mary Henderson. Jo Mielziner dominated all Broadway design from the 30's to the 60's. Essential.

THE DESIGNS OF MING CHO LEE by Delbert Unruh. A skinny paperback holding some of the loveliest images created by the pioneer of post-Mielziner design who has influenced every designer to come after him.

and best of all--

THE THEATRE ART OF BORIS ARONSON by Frank Rich. (Yes THAT Frank Rich) Shows why the golden age of Prince/Sondheim musicals could have never been so golden without the brilliant stage sets that Aronson designed to house their masterworks. Pure glory.

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taboo123
Broadway Legend
joined:5/27/05
Books on Directing
Posted: 10/9/12 at 03:51pm
Great suggestions....

now I'm curious while on subject--

I know good directors have agents---
but are there any services or websites that show/offer jobs for directors?
how do directors found out where the work is--if any.

it must be a very tough totem pole to climb.
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EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
Books on Directing
Posted: 10/9/12 at 04:49pm
Great mention of those incredible design books--I actually didn't know about the Ming Cho Lee one, will have to track it down. The Mielziner books is great, although I wish some ofthe designs were shown clearer/larger. And the Boris Aronson book is simply essential--it's fantastic. I know it often goes for quite a bit now, but I found a copy at a library discard sale for $5, so they're out there.

I wish there were more books on design--there are many other designers I would love othave coffe table books of.

I'd also recommend The Performing Set: The Broadway Designs of William and Jean Eckart--two designers who are somewhat forgotten now, but (according to the book) helped usher in the era of "moving" or choreographed scenery. I found it particularly fascinating to see their designs for Anyone Can Whistle since most photos and books that discuss that original production say or show little of the design work.
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EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
Books on Directing
Posted: 10/9/12 at 04:58pm
Apparently in the same series Someone in a Tree mentioned re Ming Cho Lee, there are also two fantastic books about the process and work of two of the most important lighting designers, Jules Fisher and Tharon Musser.
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Someone in a Tree2
Broadway Star
joined:10/9/12
Books on Directing
Posted: 10/9/12 at 05:23pm
Agreed, Eric, about the Eckarts book being worthwhile too-- have that one, but harder to describe them as true pioneers of the art form. (Maybe competent masters with a well-defined personality of their own.)

Regarding the Mielziner book, the Henderson book is a beautiful modern edit with new photos and copy of Jo Mielziner's own monograph from 1965, called DESIGNING FOR THE THEATRE. Very few color images or production photos in Jo's own book, but his original is the more definitive collection of full-page sketches, along with his own discussion about each production. Both books complement each other.

CONTEMPORARY STAGE DESIGN U.S.A. came out in 1974, followed by AMERICAN SET DESIGN by Arnold Aronson in 1985. These two paperbacks start to explore the great designers whose work we still love today: John Lee Beatty, Eugene Lee, Santo Loquasto, David Mitchell, Douglas Schmidt and Robin Wagner. (Can't explain why Tony Walton is overlooked in both volumes!)

I know there is a fancy monograph out there on the hot-button designer George Tsypin (published long before his work on Spider-Man came along). But it seems long overdue for some smart guy to assemble a definitive collection of the great designers of the NEW century for our libraries. Wonder who out there will be considered the Mielziners and Lees of the Broadway stages of our time?
Inigomontoya
Stand-by
joined:6/24/07
Books on Directing
Posted: 10/9/12 at 08:28pm
Wow guys, thanks for all the suggestions, I'm tracking down all the books online and will probably buy most of them.

I'm directing a very dark cabaret that has original comic sketches and very dark and heavy songs. The entire feeling of it is like an old Bracht piece and I'm trying to think of an interesting stage design that will give his work a sort of homage and I'm a little stuck so I thought I'd go to seek help in some books :)
A Director
Broadway Star
joined:12/18/07
Books on Directing
Posted: 10/9/12 at 10:23pm
Inigo,

Is the cabaret you're directing a collection of scenes and songs by Brecht? If so, I suggest you look at the work of George Grosz and Otto Dix two leading early 20th Century German artists. Their work will give you a better feeling about the period than any contemporary book about designers. If the cabaret has contemporary pieces, look at artists who's work reflects, to you, the spirit of the cabaret.

A word of warning about any book by Mary Henderson, her books are filled with wonderful photographs and drawings, but they are also filled with mistakes. She gets dates, locations, authors and other basic facts wrong. I wonder if she ever worked with a proof reader.

Arthur Laurent's book on directing is little more that Laurent's being nasty and an SOB.

For books about directing, read any or all of these:
On Directing by Harold Clurman
A Sense of Director by William Ball
Thinking Like A Director by Michael Bloom
The Director's Companion by Mel Shapiro
Creating Life On Stage by Marshall W. Mason
Tips Ideas for Directors by Jon Jory

All will give you plenty to think about. On the other hand, the best way to learn to direct is to do it.

 
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