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).
‘Anyone, particularly perhaps secondary school drama teachers for whom it might be a daunting prospect, wanting practical help with devising theatre should have a look at Mike Bradwell’s Inventing The Truth. Not only does this former actor, Hull Truck Founder and Artistic Director of Bush Theatre, demystify all the frightening aspects of allowing people to stand up and make things up, but he is very entertaining to read.’
— The Stage
‘This book is undoubtedly both informative and educational… fascinating’
— British Theatre Guide
‘Refreshing, straightforward… a precise, unpretentious how-to’
— Teaching Drama Magazine