Putting In a Good Word

by Stephen Peithman

Directing Plays, Directing People
Directing Plays, Directing People
New books for performers and directors

Directing Plays, Directing People is a thoroughly engaging look at the collaborative art of directing for the theatre. Author Mary B. Robinson’s admittedly “personal and highly subjective point of view” is tempered by input from more than 30 theatre artists who share with her their own perspectives on the collaborative process. Topics include choosing a play, creating an artistic team, working with actors and sharing the results with an audience. Fledgling and experienced directors alike will find much of value here. [$17.95, Smith and Kraus]

 

 

 

 

 

To Be or Wanna Be
To Be or Wanna Be

Why do some talented actors succeed and others fail? In To Be or Wanna Be, author Sean Pratt boils the answer down to 10 essential differences between “The Successful Actor” and “The Starving Artist,” and explains the path to take (and pitfalls to avoid) in order to end up in the first camp. Some of the 10 points may be obvious, but others—like “A Successful Actor has a personal brand. A Starving Artist hasn’t a clue”—effectively zero in on what sets an actor apart from another. Pratt’s book provides a strong perceptual framework that might well help actors challenge assumptions that might otherwise hold them back. [$19.99, CreateSpace.com]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do You Dream in Color?
Do You Dream in Color?

It’s no secret that careers in the performing arts are highly competitive, but it’s especially for those with disabilities. “I had to be one step ahead of the game at all times,” writes mezzo-soprano Laurie Rubin in Do You Dream in Color? “I couldn’t be normal, or good, or great. I had to be superwoman.” Her book’s subtitle is “Insights from a Girl Without Sight,” which is exactly what she delivers. And while the expected trials and tribulations are all there, hers is essentially an upbeat story about the performance world told from a unique viewpoint that puts into perspective a basic truth, well stated by Rubin: “Everyone in the world wants to feel needed, and to understand their purpose. Mine is to be an artist.” [$18.95, Seven Bridges Press]

 

 

 

 

 

There’s Money Where Your Mouth Is
There’s Money Where Your Mouth Is

The third edition of There’s Money Where Your Mouth Is, by Elaine A. Clark, is an updated overview of finding voiceover work in commercials and cartoons, corporate narration, animation, video games and toys. Chapters include how to get started, vocal exercises, script-reading strategies, believing what you say and creating commercial and stylized characters. Sample commercials and script copy are included, as well as practical career advice, such as getting an agent. [$24.95, Allworth Press]

 

It may be a reflection on the attention spans of modern audiences, but the interest in shorter plays continues unabated for both actors and directors. The Best 10-Minute Plays for 2011 is populated mostly by the work of up-and-coming playwrights, grouped for two actors and for three or more actors. [$24.99, Smith and Kraus] Best American Short Plays 2010-11 brings together 21 recent short works, centered on the theme of love (however one chooses to define it), often as a learning experience. This is a strong showing by a wide range of playwrights, with such works as “The Coyote Stratagem” by G. Flores, Kimberly La Force’s “A Marriage Proposal,” and “Creatures” by Janet Allard. Production histories and brief biographies of each playwright are included. [$18.99, Applause Books]

 

 

New Playwrights: The Best Plays
New Playwrights: The Best Plays

Recent works of longer duration can be found in New Playwrights: The Best Plays, including Bachelorette by Leslye Headland, Be a Good Little Widow by Bekah Brunstetter, A Bright New Boise by Samuel D. Hunter, Now Circa Then by Carly Mensch, Thinner Than Water by Melissa Ross, The Whipping Man by Matthew Lopez, and Wittenberg by David Davalos. There is a remarkable diversity of subject matter and style here, and all have won plaudits from the New York and regional press. [$24.99, Smith and Kraus]

 

Actors and teachers will be interested in the 2011 editions of The Best Men’s Stage Monologues and Scenes and The Best Women’s Stage Monologues and Scenes [$14.99 each, Smith and Kraus]. The men’s edition includes excerpts from Lauren Yee’s Ching Chong Chinaman, A.R. Gurney’s Office Hours, and several from Don Nigro. The women’s edition includes excerpts from Neil LaBute’s The Break of Noon, Lascivious Something by Sheila Callaghan, Marina Carr’s Marble, and more excerpts from the prolific Don Nigro.