The author of 64 plays, Ayckbourn has garnered international acclaim as a writer-director and remains one of the most widely performed living playwrights. Now he throws a spotlight on his stagecraft secrets and insights in this slim but valuable handbook on how to write and direct plays. It's designed to chronologically carry readers from a play's inspiration and creation to auditions, read-throughs, rehearsals, previews and press night. Ayckbourn covers "obvious rules" such as "Never start a play without an idea" and "The best comedy springs from the utterly serious" and explicates his dicta with brief, occasionally humorous essays. For instance, his rule that "People in general are reluctant to reveal themselves" cues a three-page explanation: "We are most of us by nature secretive creatures... In making characters reveal themselves they must be given a cause, a motive. The classic, slight corny one is to get them drunk. Otherwise, they probably open up through desperation, or anger, or deliberately to hurt each other." The pages on directors and directing cover such areas as casting, lighting, costume and sound design, choreographers, tech rehearsals and dealing with producers and stars. In addition to inserting amusing anecdotes, Ayckbourn also shares relevant passages from his own plays, including Relatively Speaking, Just Between Ourselves, Taking Steps and Season's Greetings. Rather than taking an academic approach, Ayckbourn's stylish writing conveys a feeling that readers have been invited into a near-empty auditorium to witness a private rehearsal. This book, a polished gem of theater lore, concludes with an appendix listing Ayckbourn's plays.
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan