Continuum Companion to Twentieth Century Theatre
Continuum International Publishing Group, Limited, May 14, 2006 - Social Science - 896 pages
International in scope, this book is designed to be the pre-eminent reference work on the English-speaking theatre in the twentieth century. Arranged alphabetically, it consists of some 2500 entries written by 280 contributors from 20 countries which include not only top-level experts, but, uniquely, leading professionals from the world of theatre. A fascinating resource for anyone interested in theatre, it includes:
- Overviews of major concepts, topics and issues;
- Surveys of theatre institutions, countries, and genres;
- Biographical entries on key performers, playwrights, directors, designers, choreographers and composers;
- Articles by leading professionals on crafts, skills and disciplines including acting, design, directing, lighting, sound and voice.
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The continuum companion to twentieth century theatreUser Review - Book Verdict
Chambers, former literary manager of the Royal Shakespeare Company and now at De Montfort Univ., Leicester, U.K., has brought together over 2500 entries that range widely over theater in the last century. The text serves well as a jumping off point, giving satisfactory information to readers seeking short answers (e.g., "What was the Hedgerow Theatre?"). In addition, topics are covered here that might otherwise prove elusive, as in the informative entry "Portuguese-Speaking African Theatre," found by first looking up Mozambique. However, even at its steep retail price, this book lacks illustrations, and given its vast scope and its limitations as a single volume, shortcomings are inevitable. For example, there is no entry for "Palestinian Theatre"; only upon looking up "Arab Theatre" can one find the appropriate article on "Middle East and North Africa" among the subheadings. Ngaio Marsh, an outstanding New Zealand theatrical figure, receives no mention, but one can learn about Jamaican playwright Una Marson. The entry on Noel Coward is significantly shorter than that on Federico Garcia Lorca, though both are major figures. The bibliographies attached to many articles are very brief (author, title, year published) and are not meant to be comprehensive; one can find as much or more while browsing any university online catalog. On the plus side, a particular highlight is the collection of articles throughout written by practicing theater professionals: Arnold Wesker on playwrighting, Ben Kingsley on preparing a part, Daniel Massey on performing Shaw, etc. All in all, as with so many one-volume encyclopedic works, this is a valuable but uneven work. Recommended for public and smaller academic libraries. Susan L. Peters, Univ. of Texas, Galveston ...