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William Gaskill began directing at the Royal Court in 1957. He directed a handful of groundbreaking plays there, including Edward Bond's Saved with its controversial baby-stoning scene. In 1963 he directed the young Maggie Smith at Laurence Olivier's new National Theatre. In 1974 he co-founded Joint Stock Theatre with Max Stafford-Clark, going on to stage some of the most significant work of the 70s and 80s. In a wide-ranging freelance career he has directed many productions of Brecht, Beckett and Shakespeare, and most of his recent work has been at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

Words Into Action: Finding the Life of the Play
$23.63 ex GST
$25.99 inc GST

Words Into Action: Finding the Life of the Play

William Gaskill

Packed with insights from a lifetime of directing theatre, Words into Action is a fascinating read and a vital masterclass for actors and directors.

Renowned theatre director William Gaskill was one of the founders of the Royal Court, whose ethos, as Christopher Hampton says in his Foreword, 'this book goes a long way towards defining'.

Gaskill's acclaimed work as a director always begins with the words of the playwright, and here, starting with a chapter on 'Trusting the Writer', he takes the actor through the vital steps needed to find the life of the play and then to articulate it on stage.

Drawing instances from his own work in the theatre and from teaching at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, he looks at action and intention, stillness and movement, sentences and rhetoric, punctuation and pauses. He pays detailed attention to staging Shakespeare's plays, and there are also chapters on masks, on language as character, and on verse and prose. Gaskill is, says Maggie Smith, ‘the best teacher in the world.'

If you want to know what a director - a good theatre director, that is - actually does, read William Gaskill's marvellous new book, Words into Action... Gaskill is a great director, and a great teacher... Essential stuff -   Michael Coveney,

Nick Hern Books, UK | 978-1-84842-100-4 | Sales rights: Australia/NZ | PB