■What instructions does the written text give the actor?
■What can play text tell us about theatrical space?
■What is the difference between an illocutionary act and a perlocutionary act?
■How is the function of the writer being re-negotiated in twenty-first century theatre?
This third edition of Mick Wallis and Simon Shepherd's well-established and well-loved introduction to understanding plays discusses these questions and many more. The book examines and explains the key elements of drama by reference to a selection of judiciously chosen plays, both classic and contemporary, including Shakespeare's King Lear, Isben's A Doll's House and Timberlake Wertenbaker's Our Country's Good.
Studying Plays is a unique text in its ability to talk equally to students of literature and of drama. Its analyses of all aspects of the written play will also be of value to actors and other makers of theatre. Throughout the book, the authors stress the relationship between drama and performance. They show how to read a play text; they look at how to interpret stage directions; they examine character, dialogue, plot and action; they look at the body, space and theatre semiotics and they discuss culture and interpretation. All the major critical approaches to drama are introduced. The book is punctuated with exercises designed to allow students to refine their own analytical and creative abilities.
This third edition has been updated to take account of recent developments in drama including the design-led and post-dramatic text.
Mick Wallis is Pro-Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Performance, Visual Arts and Communications and Professor of Performance and Culture at the University of Leeds.
Simon Shepherd is Deputy Principal (Academic)and Professor of Theatre at Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London.
Chapter 1 Getting started
Reading the play
Chapter 2 Characters and persons
Expectations about character
Three aspects of dramatic character
Developing the aspects of dramatic character
Further aspects of dramatic character
Character at work
Chapter 3 Dialogue
The workings of dialogue
The workings of conversation
The stylistics of theatrical prose and verse
Dialogue, speaking position and the choices of reading
Chapter 4 Plot and action
Plot, action and situation
Story, plot and narration
Character and scenes
Chapter 5 The actor's body
Limits and margins
Chapter 6 Spaces
Space and A Doll's House
A systematic approach to space
Models and maps of theatrical space
Chapter 7 Culture and interpretation
Words in bold are in the Glossary, along with other useful words.