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Secret Life of Plays. The [Paperback]

Steve Waters
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
RRP: £12.99
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Book Description

16 Sep 2010
Drawing on a wide range of plays, both historical and modern, The Secret Life of Plays examines the continuities, conventions and trade secrets that govern their writing. Waters takes the reader through the key elements of dramatic writing, scenes, acts, time, space, characters, language and images to show how plays are more than the sum of their parts, with as much inner vitality as a living organism. Deeply personal, but with the authority of an experienced teacher and practitioner, The Secret Life of Plays is an essential book for aspiring playwrights and a fascinating guide for other theatre practitioners and students of drama. As Convenor of the Playwriting Studies MPhil at Birmingham University the oldest and most respected course of its kind in the UK and a playwright whose work has been seen in the West End and beyond, Steve Waters is an ideal guide to the hidden workings of plays.

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Secret Life of Plays. The + How Plays Work (Nick Hern Books) + The Crafty Art of Playmaking
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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Nick Hern Books; Reprint edition (16 Sep 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848420005
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848420007
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 13.9 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 54,496 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


Steve Waters' book is like his plays: clear, elegant and stimulating throughout --David Edgar

About the Author

STEVE WATERS is the Convenor of the Playwriting Studies MPhil at Birmingham University. His plays have been staged at the Donmar Warehouse (World Music), Sheffield Crucible (The Unthinkable), Hampstead Theatre (Fast Labour) and, most recently, the Bush Theatre (The Contingency Plan). All are published by NHB.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where has this book been all my life? 27 Nov 2011
By Jules
For years, I've been going to playwriting workshops, devouring scripts, seeing as many shows as I could afford, writing like a maniac, and trying to understand the strange mix of people, time, space and stuff that is a play. If you don't train in theatre, you don't have that frame of reference - concepts of space, symbols, negotiation, status, exposition, time, subtext, audience engagement, disruption, gesture, ritual etc. These areas are rarely explored in writing workshops, yet they are essential for an understanding of the medium.

Fiction and film writers are well served with thoughtful overviews, but I searched high and low for a playwright's equivalent of John Mullan's 'How Novels Work' and Alexander McKendrick's 'On Film-Making'. Edgar's 'How Plays Work' was a great start, and Steve Waters is even better. I particularly love that he gives context and examples not just from plays, but also from film, poetry, fiction and music, so we see universal concepts at work. And - oh my! - he also gets specific about language, e.g. the effect of past tense, which most other playwriting books overlook.

This isn't a 'how-to' - it's a highly readable discussion of the structural bones underpinning drama, aimed at the drama and literature student, playwright and lover of theatre. Rewarding, inspiring and generous.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Steve Waters takes over where David Edgar left off. Loaded with brilliant ideas for ground-breaking writing. I've read many books about writing plays but this is the best!Good background, easy to read,thought-provoking. Whether you're just starting to write plays or have been, this book is highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good little read 5 Nov 2013
By Chazabo
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Steve Waters explains elegantly and straight-forwardly different components that make up the construction of a play. Exploring such things as the conception of ideas, characterization, time, the importance of acts, dialogue and different ways of approaching drama (as journalist, as poet, as iconoclast, as sociologist...etc). There are about a dozen useful insights and tips which would stop you from making amateur mistakes and enable you to enrich your script a bit more. It's not extremely in depth but you'll have to browse lots of books on the subject anyway. It's better than Lajos Elegri's art of writing drama, which for me was a little simplistic.
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