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How Plays Work (Nick Hern Books) Paperback – 2 Jun 2009


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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Nick Hern Books; Reprint edition (2 Jun. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1854593714
  • ISBN-13: 978-1854593719
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 13.7 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,258 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

A fascinating read and there is little doubt that budding playwrights will learn much that will stand them in good stead as they get down to the task of writing and then perfecting their Magnum Opus. --British Theatre Guide

Erudite and entertaining...lively without being lightweight...convincingly argues that knowing how plays work liberates rather than hampers creativity, and that every playwright should learn about these structural elements if for no other reason than they carry the weight of audience expectation, which can be met or disappointed, but never ignored. --Exeunt

Lucid, deeply intelligent... combines theoretical acumen with the assured know-how of a working dramatist. --Times Literary Supplement


Erudite and entertaining...lively without being lightweight...convincingly argues that knowing how plays work liberates rather than hampers creativity, and that every playwright should learn about these structural elements if for no other reason than they carry the weight of audience expectation, which can be met or disappointed, but never ignored. --Exeunt

Lucid, deeply intelligent... combines theoretical acumen with the assured know-how of a working dramatist. --Times Literary Supplement

About the Author

David Edgar pioneered the teaching of playwriting in the UK, founding the Playwriting Studies course at Birmingham University in 1989. He is also a leading playwright, best known for his political plays amongst them Pentecost, The Prisoner s Dilemma and The Shape of the Table and for his adaptation of Nicholas Nickelby for the RSC

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Rachel on 8 May 2012
Format: Paperback
This is the best book of its kind that I have read. Rather than being a dry list of rules or confused (but fiercely defended) theories, it gives a very interesting and insightful description of how many techniques are used in different plays. Reading books about writing often leaves me feeling faintly depressed; this one left me feeling inspired.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Arachne202 on 18 Nov. 2014
Format: Paperback
This is deeply interesting for anyone with a passion for theatre, whether they are involved in putting theatre on, being in the audience, or studying it academically.

David Edgar has read and seen an exhausting amount of plays in his life, and happily jumps from reference to reference to make his various points, leaving me with an extensive list of plays that I want to read and see myself. Most of them are British, with some others from the Western Canon thrown in, and sometimes he has to reference a novel or film or television series instead to get the storytelling point across that he is describing.

He works his way backwards, beginning with big things like the audience and the genre, working down to scenes and characters, and finishing with the small things in a chapter on devices. But at times he will get carried away on a particular passion of his own, and as his tastes are very similar to mine, that was wonderful. I especially enjoyed the big section on the history of comedy, the section on how different playwrights have messed about with the use of time and time travel, and the section on how ghosts have been staged: - apparently there are eighteen ghosts in Shakespeare's plays, and he was the first playwright to have ghosts that could be seen by some of the characters on the stage, but not others. (Now I know.)

Detective plays, bodice-rippers, gay plays, ethnic plays, female playwrights: - he leaps around all over the place, and it's a very satisfying and stimulating read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Donald A. Mcintyre on 11 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a thoughtful and comprehensive analysis of the playwriter's art; it's not about acting or direction. It is very helpful reading for theatregoers and novice playwights. Unlke many screenwriting texts, it's not a prescriptive how to do it manual.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. Das on 21 Aug. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very thought provoking read. Great to analyse the great writers' styles and I now have a long reading list of texts that were referenced.

I agree with the premise made in the book that there is a formula to writing plays; there should be a protagonist, an antagonist, an event that changes the behaviour of either or both etc.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dawny on 29 Mar. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is very informative and really worth buying. It gives lots of great information and advice about how plays work.
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