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Theatre and Performance Guidebooks - Directing and Stagecraft

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Commedia Plays
$31.81 ex GST
$34.99 inc GST

Commedia Plays

Scenarios, Scripts, Lazzi

Barry Grantham

A unique collection of performance pieces and improvisation exercises in the Commedia style by the UK's leading practioner. A sequel to the best-selling Playing Commedia .

Commedia Plays contains eight plays each with a detailed introduction, illustrating the different periods and styles of Commedia dell'Arte. Suitable for performance on stage, the plays can also be used in the classroom and workshop as the basis for improvisation.

Also included is a compilation of 'Lazzi' - the pieces of 'business' that form the basis of Commedia's comic action. These range from the Double Takes and The Surprise Embrace to whole scenes such as Cross Dressing and The Unwanted Proposal.

The book as a whole serves as a practical illustration of the development of Commedia over some four hundred years.

Nick Hern Books | 978-1-85459-871-4 | Sales rights: Australia/NZ | PB
Complete Brecht Toolkit, The
$27.27 ex GST
$29.99 inc GST

Complete Brecht Toolkit, The

Stephen Unwin

A practical, hands-on guide - for actors, directors, teachers and students - to Brecht's theory and practice of theatre, with a full set of exercises to help put theory into practice.

The Complete Brecht Toolkit examines, one by one, Brecht's many, sometimes contradictory ideas about theatre - and how he put them into practice. Here are explanations of all the famous key terms, such as Alienation Effect, Epic Theatre and Gestus, as well as many others which go to make up what we think of as 'Brechtian theatre'.

The book also explores the practical application of these theories in Acting, Language, Music, Design and Direction.

Also included are fifty exercises contributed by Julian Jones, to help student actors investigate Brecht's ideas for themselves, becoming thoroughly familiar with the tools in the Brecht toolkit.

Nick Hern Books, UK | 978-1-85459-550-8 | Sales Rights: Australia/NZ only  | PB
Different Every Night
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$34.99 inc GST

Different Every Night

Rehearsal and Performance Techniques for Actors and Directors

Mike Alfreds

A top-ranking director sets out his rehearsal techniques in this invaluable handbook for actors and directors
Mike Alfreds has been directing plays for 35 years. He founded Shared Experience—still going very strong—in the 1970s and ran the Cambridge Theatre Company in the 1990s, also working extensively at the National Theatre and abroad. He is hugely respected within the profession.

Now he has done what no other director has dared to do since Stanislavsky—he has committed his methodology to print.

So, in Different Every Night, we are taken into the rehearsal room to work principally on Chekhov. He shows how to break down the text into units and individual beats—and offers techniques for the actor to bring the text to life. And to keep it alive through many repetitions not only in rehearsal but also in performance. In doing so he offers a vital masterclass for actors and directors.

Different Every Night is the culmination of a lifetime working in the theatre. It is intensely hands-on and full of practical advice for both directors and actors. No director should ever again not know how to conduct rehearsals and bring them to successful fruition!

Nick Hern Books | 978-1-85459-967-4 | Sales rights: Australia/NZ | PB
Don’t Tell Me, Show Me: Directors Talk About Acting
$18.17 ex GST
$19.99 inc GST

Don’t Tell Me, Show Me: Directors Talk About Acting

Adam Macaulay


A collection of ‘informal’ interviews with Australian directors of stage, film and TV about actors and acting. An intelligent and enlightening commentary on acting in Australia today, which strips away the layers of mythology surrounding the industry, revealing the energy, passion, humour and vision within.

The directors are: John Bell, Bruce Beresford, Di Drew, Gale Edwards, Michael Gow, Michael Jenkins and Nico Lathouris, Ros Horin, Barrie Kosky, Aubrey Mellor, Simon Phillips and Kate Woods.

Currency Press | 978-0-86819-669-5 | Sales rights: Australia/NZ | PB
Hamlet in Pieces
$38.17 ex GST
$41.99 inc GST

Hamlet in Pieces

Shakespeare reworked by Peter Brook, Robert Lepage and Robert Wilson

Andy Lavender

Three extraordinary productions of Hamlet by three giants of modern theatre.

Peter Brook, Robert Lepage and Robert Wilson have all attempted radical reworkings of Hamlet. This book examines their very different approaches.

Brook's Qui Est La - his 'variation' on Hamlet - was first seen in Paris in 1995, incorporating the writings of Artaud, Brecht, Craig, Meyerhold, Stanislavsky and Zeami Motikoyo into edited scenes from Shakespeare's play. He has since tackled the full play in a spare and definitive production which provides the subject of the epilogue to this volume.

Lepage's Elsinore is a technically complex tour de force - a multimedia drama on a moving set, with Lepage playing all the characters.

Wilson's Hamlet: a monologue, directed, designed and performed by Wilson himself, is a one-man show - but one that needs twenty backstage staff to bring it to life.

Vividly reconstructing each of the three productions, the author offers a dyamic combination of casebook and critique, complete with 16 pages of production photos.

Nick Hern Books | 978-1-85459-618-5 | Sales rights: Australia/NZ | PB
Hamlet:  A User’s Guide
$27.26 ex GST
$29.99 inc GST

Hamlet: A User’s Guide

Michael Pennington

An intensely practical account of the way Hamlet actually works on stage. 

Writing with the benefit of inside experience of many productions, actor and director Michael Pennington takes us through Hamlet scene by scene, and character by character. He also gives a personal account of his own encounters with the play, and of its staging through the ages.

Nick Hern Books | 978-1-85459-284-2 | Sales rights: Australia/NZ | PB
How Musicals Work
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$29.99 inc GST

How Musicals Work

Julian Woolford

The history of musical theatre is as littered with disaster as it is with triumph. For every Sound of Music ringing up the tills, there’s a Twang! going thud at the box office. For every Sweeney Todd slicing his way to glory, there’s a Carrie lying bleeding in the wings. Picking your way through this nightmare with your own little Orphan Annie or Oliver can be daunting but help is at hand to ensure your Broadway Baby grows up to Razzle Dazzle ’em.

Julian Woolford’s How Musicals Work is an informative history of musical theatre exploring how and why some shows work brilliantly and why others – despite strenuous attempts to make it happen – never have. If you’ve always wanted to write your own musical show it’s also a brilliant practical guide to getting it right, from an experienced and successful director and writer of musicals. Full of great examples, smart ideas and exercises to help make your show a success, How Musicals Work is the ultimate guide to what to do and what not to do while getting your show together before taking it on the road.

Nick Hern Books, UK | 978-1-84842-175-2 | Sales rights: Australia/NZ | PB
Improvisation in Rehearsal
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$25.99 inc GST

Improvisation in Rehearsal

John Abbott

How to use improvisation to enrich and enliven the rehearsal process Actors in rehearsal often feel they’ve reached a dead end in trying to build their character. Improvising around the situation – ‘what would your character do if…?’ – helps the actor truly inhabit the role and liberates their creativity. This book brilliantly illustrates how improvisation can be used as a rehearsal technique in a wide variety of contexts.

John Abbott is the author of The Improvisation Book, which was aimed at drama teachers wanting to conduct successful improvisation sessions. Now he turns his attention to directors who want to incorporate improvisation into their rehearsals.

Also by John Abbott - The Improvisation Book

Nick Hern Books | 978-1-85459-523-2 | Sales rights: Australia/NZ | PB
Inventing the Truth: Devising and Directing for the Theatre
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$25.99 inc GST

Inventing the Truth: Devising and Directing for the Theatre

Mike Bradwell

An invaluable guide to the difficult arts of devising plays and directing texts, by one of the UK’s leading theatre directors.

Throughout a lifetime of experience – as an actor for Mike Leigh, founder of Hull Truck, Artistic Director of the Bush Theatre, and subsequently as a freelance director – Mike Bradwell has forged a reputation as a theatrical innovator and risk-taker.

This book begins by exploring the process of devising a play by working intensively through character and improvisation with a group of actors. Using   A Bed of Roses   as an example, a play that he himself devised, Bradwell shows how the actors set about inventing their characters, whether within a pre-determined framework or with no strictures whatsoever. He explores how actors can then ‘grow’ their character, both through solo work and through interaction with the other characters. He also examines the role of the director in moulding and shaping the individual scenes, the overall action of the play, and the development of the characters within it.

The second half of the book describes in detail how the nuanced work involved in devising characters from scratch can be applied to a pre-existing text. Bradwell explains the techniques by which he encourages the actor to take possession of his or her character by investigating or inventing their whole history up to the moment the action begins. Taking as his template Jack Thorne’s play  When You Cure Me , which Bradwell directed at the Bush, he demonstrates the meticulous work on the text that is needed to keep the characters alive and truthful in every moment of the action.

All together,  Inventing the Truth  offers practitioners a unique account of the techniques involved in devising or directing plays to the highest standard. Mike Bradwell’s previous book The Reluctant Escapologist  won the Theatre Book Prize in 2011.

‘There is a special sense of care about a Mike Bradwell production, in dramas that penetrate deeply into the secret corners of the human heart’  Daily Telegraph

Also included in the book, to aid the reader’s understanding of the process, are the full texts of both  A Bed of Roses  (‘Hilariously funny, extremely moving and physically frightening... a small masterpiece’  Time Out ) and Jack Thorne’s  When You Cure Me  (‘Painstakingly honest... acutely observant of the petty rivalries and jealousies that sickness provokes’ Guardian).


Nick Hern Books, UK | 978-1-84842-153-0 | Sales rights: Australia & NZ | PB
Jessica Swale's Blue Stockings
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$23.99 inc GST

Jessica Swale's Blue Stockings

A Guide to studying and staging the play

Jessica Swale/Lois Jeary

Jessica Swale's Blue Stockings is the empowering and surprising story of four young women fighting for their right to a university education in a world that assumed women belonged at home. First produced professionally at Shakespeare's Globe in 2013, and a sell-out success, it is now regularly performed by theatre groups in the UK and beyond, and widely studied by GCSE Drama students.

This Page to Stage guide, written by the playwright, who also directed the first production at RADA, along with her assistant director Lois Jeary, is packed with contextual information, scene-by-scene and character breakdowns, and personal insights into the world of the play and the real lives that inspired it.

An invaluable resource for those studying and staging the play, it takes you through the entire production process, considering each of the elements in turn, from sound and music to design and rehearsals. You'll also find notes from the original rehearsal process, extracts from working diaries, and interviews with key members of the creative team. Throughout, there are hints and tips on staging, and helpful games and exercises to bring the play to life on the stage and in the classroom.

Highly accessible and uniquely authoritative, it is the indispensible guide for anyone studying, teaching or performing the play.

Nick Hern Books | 978-1-84842-623-8 | Sales rights: Australia/NZ only | PB