Books on acting and theatre theory.

The Theatre and its Double, Antonin Artaud

A collection of manifestos originally published in 1938, The Theater and Its Double is the fullest statement of the ideas of Antonin Artaud. We cannot go on prostituting the idea of the theater, the only value of which is in its excruciating, magical relation to reality and danger,” he wrote. He fought vigorously against an encroaching conventionalism he found anathema to the very concept of theater. He sought to use theater to transcend writing, to break through the language in order to touch life.”

The Empty Space, Peter Brook

From director and cofounder of the Royal Shakespeare Company Peter Brook, The Empty Space is a timeless analysis of theatre from the most influential stage director of the twentieth century.

As relevant as when it was first published in 1968, groundbreaking director and cofounder of the Royal Shakespeare Company Peter Brook draws on a life in love with the stage to explore the issues facing a theatrical performance—of any scale. He describes important developments in theatre from the last century, as well as smaller scale events, from productions by Stanislavsky to the rise of Method Acting, from Brecht’s revolutionary alienation technique to the free form happenings of the 1960s, and from the different styles of such great Shakespearean actors as John Gielgud and Paul Scofield to a joyous impromptu performance in the burnt-out shell of the Hamburg Opera just after the war.

Passionate, unconventional, and fascinating, this book shows how theatre defies rules, builds and shatters illusions, and creates lasting memories for its audiences.

The Open Door, Peter Brook

From King Lear to the Tragedy of Carmen, from Marat/Sade to the epic Mahabharata, Peter Brook has reinvented modern theatre, not once but again and again. In The Open Door the visionary director and theorist offers a lucid, comprehensive exposition of the philosophy that underlies his work.

It is a philosophy of paradoxes: We come to the theatre to find life, but that life must be different from the life we find outside. Actors have to prepare painstakingly yet be willing to sacrifice the results of their preparation. The director’s most reliable tool may be his capacity to be bored. Brook illustrates these principles with anecdotes that span his entire career and that demonstrate his familiarity with Shakespeare, Chekhov, and the indigenous theatres of India and Iran. The result is an unparalleled look at what happens both onstage and behind the scenes, fresh in its insights and elegant in its prose.

Theatre of the Oppressed, Augusto Boal

"Boal and his work are marvelous examples of the post-modern situation-its problems and its opportunities. Twice exiled, Boal is 'at home' now wherever he finds himself to be. He makes a skeptical, comic, inquisitive and finally optimistic theatre involving spectators and performers in the search for community and integrity. This is a good book to be used even more than to be read." - Richard Schechner

"Augusto Boal's achievement is so remarkable, so original and so groundbreaking that I have no hesitation in describing the book as the most important theoretical work in the theatre in modern times - a statement I make with having suffered any memory lapse with respect to Stanislavsky, Artaud or Grotowski." - Goerge E. Wellwarth

Originally basing himself at the Arena Stage in Sao Paolo, Brazil, Augusto Boal developed a series of imaginative theatre exercises which promote awareness of one's social situation and its limitations, individual attitudes, and even how our bodies are bound by tradition. Boal is continued his explorations in Paris, where he directed Le CEDITADE (Centre d'Etude et de Diffusion des Techniques Actives d'Expression - Methode Boal), in addition to traveling and lecturing extensively in other countries. On May 2, 2009, Boal died at age 78 in Rio de Janeiro.