Posted: October 27th, 2022

art discussion 5

   

Since  the term “Fine Arts” includes subjects beyond those covered in our  principle textbook, these last two discussions over theater and music  will reference additional resources. Chapter 2 of the textbook

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Theatrical

Worlds

 provides a brief history of acting, emphasizing techniques that theater  actors use to make characters more natural or realistic. Give and  explain an example of a performance you’ve seen, either on stage or in a  movie, where an actor convincingly transforms into a character through  the use of technique.

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Theatrical Worlds

(27 reviews)

Charles Mitchell, University of Florida, Gainesville

Copyright Year:
2014

ISBN 13:
9781616101664

Publisher:

University Press of Florida

Language:
English

Formats Available

  • PDF

Conditions of Use

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs

CC BY-NC-ND

Reviews

Learn more about reviews.

Reviewed by Donna Sorbello, Associate Professor, Bunker Hill Community College on 12/27/20, updated 1/6/21

This is a terrific, easy-to-read overview of various, significant aspects of theatre. In many instances, it goes into more depth than one would expect from a book wanting to cover so many categories.

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Reviewed by Donna Sorbello, Associate Professor, Bunker Hill Community College on 12/27/20, updated 1/6/21

Comprehensiveness
rating:
5

see less

This is a terrific, easy-to-read overview of various, significant aspects of theatre. In many instances, it goes into more depth than one would expect from a book wanting to cover so many categories.

Content Accuracy
rating:
5

I found nothing contradictory in any of the information presented in the book, relative to other textbooks and in my own eperiences in years of theatre acting, wriing, teaching..

Relevance/Longevity
rating:
5

SInce many students now are imered in “pop culture,” with little history of past traditions, “Theatrical Worlds” is relevant in it’s delving into the origin of theatre, the various forms of acting traditions, and varied cultural differences in theatre, It is relevant in its offering of design and technical practices as well as offering practical information about being a participant in the theatre.

Clarity
rating:
5

Very accessible. Unlike some textbooks, there was a sense of the author(s) talking to you specifically in most instances. It is to its credit that the book is all of a piece, despite varied voices, as if, as a director would strive for in a play, he/ she managed to get everyone, with their different backgrounds, interpretations and training/styles, in the same play. (In this case, the authors capture a consistent tone in the book.)

Consistency
rating:
5

Yes. See above.

Modularity
rating:
5

This book makes for easy assignments via section.

Organization/Structure/Flow
rating:
5

I felt it flowed from one topic to the other in logical patterns. The personal aspect in the style helps one move from one area to the next.

Interface
rating:
5

Nothing confusing. Any images enhance the material. The colorful images of the world-wide cultural practices add excitement and visual explanation. In the technical sessions I found the dirawings, diagrams, etc. –succinct, useful.

Grammatical Errors
rating:
5

None that I saw.

Cultural Relevance
rating:
5

The additional coverage of the practices of various cultures, not just Western theatre, in “Theatrical Worlds,” covers many practices often overlooked, though, perhaps unknowingly, such practices often find their way into various enemble approaches.

Comments

I genuinely enjoyed reading this. I especially like that it poses an important question for students; Do I really want a life in the theatre? I lappreciated the insiders take on some of the general theatre practices, making being involved in the theatre world less intimidating for the reader. The colorful photos of the varied cultural theatre companies and practices captured the spirit of many of these forms. They added an excitement and a broadening to one’s concept of theatre. I like the authors’ abilities to opt for what are basic, practical pieces of information that would be helpful to a student, or anyone interested in theatre, and I also like the detail in areas like costumes or lighting design. A very useful book for any course in the overview of theatre and a good reference for individual theatre practices.

Reviewed by Cady Garey, Lecturer, University of Virginia on 10/30/20

Text covers major areas of study and practice within the world of Theatre artistry.

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Reviewed by Cady Garey, Lecturer, University of Virginia on 10/30/20

Comprehensiveness
rating:
5
see less

Text covers major areas of study and practice within the world of Theatre artistry.

Content Accuracy
rating:
5

I find it to be accurate and informational.

Relevance/Longevity
rating:
5

Text is includes mostly exploration of ideas and practices of Theatre artists in a general and historical perspective. Most topical and evolving information is contained in photos and brief blurbs about the work of producing organizations around the country and the globe. These could be easily updated to include changing and recent work.

Clarity
rating:
5

Very easy to read. Potentially unknown and new concepts and vocabulary are explained.

Consistency
rating:
5

Text is consistent in terms of terminology and overall structure and framework.

Modularity
rating:
3

Text is broken down into areas of Theatre work in the second half of the text, which provides a clear and focused read for students. The first half of the text would benefit from additional subdivision of ideas. There are long chunks of solid text that contain many ideas. Proves a bit hard to read, especially in a digital format. I can see that it will be somewhat challenging to direct students to specific areas to read.

Organization/Structure/Flow
rating:
5

Overall appropriate organization for an introductory book.

Interface
rating:
5

See notes under grammatical.

Grammatical Errors
rating:
4

While a quick and loosely focused read on my part did not reveal grammatical errors, there are numerous areas in need of editing. These areas, I believe, happened in the translation of the text to the digital format– replacement of words or letters with strange text or odd additions to photos. Not too bothersome and would likely be an easy fix.

Cultural Relevance
rating:
5

Inclusive of the work of many communities, peoples, and histories from around the world.

Comments

This resource includes all of the elements I am interested in for my introduction to theatre course, How Theatre Works. It examines the major areas of theatre artistry and work, ideas behind the human need to perform and participate, foundational and transformational thinking about theatre, and histories of the performing arts of communities from around the world. It provides a strong foundation of information for students new to the ideas, art, and practices of theatre.

Reviewed by Lilli Ann Linford-Foreman, Professor of Communication & Theatre, Central Oregon Community College on 6/23/20

This book is a decidedly mixed bag. It was published in 2014 as a ‘beta’ edition, so perhaps there were plans to edit and/or complete it, but as it stands it has no glossary and no index. The absence of those contents makes it much less user…
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Reviewed by Lilli Ann Linford-Foreman, Professor of Communication & Theatre, Central Oregon Community College on 6/23/20

Comprehensiveness
rating:
2
see less

This book is a decidedly mixed bag. It was published in 2014 as a ‘beta’ edition, so perhaps there were plans to edit and/or complete it, but as it stands it has no glossary and no index. The absence of those contents makes it much less user friendly than it could be. There is a general table of contents listing the main topic of each chapter. Discussion of playwrights is scattered throughout, rather than given its own section. Sections on Directing, Costume Design and Shakespeare are strong. The origins of western theatre are given short shrift. There are individual aspects of theatre that are covered well, but in total it is not comprehensive.

Content Accuracy
rating:
2

Information is accurate and unbiased. There is a formatting issue with the accessible : many dates, some illustration titles, and certain letters of the alphabet are scrambled into something entirely different from what was intended. For some reason the letters c and e have been exchanged in many words. As a result, some dates are completely illegible and some words are challenging to decipher. This isn’t “a few typos” as indicated by some other reviewers; fully a quarter of the pages have these formatting errors.

Relevance/Longevity
rating:
4

Material appears timely. With individual chapters written by different authors, updating the book is unlikely to be quick or easy, but the contents are likely to stand the test of time at least for the next few years.

Clarity
rating:
4

Because individual chapters are written by different authors, the lucidity and accessibility of the prose varies by article. It is satisfactory throughout, and several chapters are stand-outs.

Consistency
rating:
4

The text doesn’t appear to have an editorial through-line, but the terminology used throughout is satisfactorily consistent.

Modularity
rating:
5

I think this is where the book shines. Chapters are free-standing and will be useful to those who want to offer students information on specific sub-topics.

Organization/Structure/Flow
rating:
4

The opening section, titled “Mapping Reality: An Introduction to Theatre”, is a wide-ranging discourse on the nature of performance that is full of unexpected connections between ideas, but doesn’t provide the initial introduction to theatre that I would want for my undergrads. Most of the other chapters follow a logical progression.

Interface
rating:
3

Many, many formatting issues. I found the file slow and unwieldy.

Grammatical Errors
rating:
4

No grammatical errors — but many formatting problems, including switched letters and illustration descriptions replaced by illegible symbols.

Cultural Relevance
rating:
5

While a predominantly Western theatre text, there is a competent section on World Theatre.

Comments

I will use portions of this text in my Intro to Theatre course as a supplement.. As a stand-alone text, the introductory chapter is too quirky and the formatting issues too distracting for me to rely on it as a main text.

Reviewed by Robert St. Laurence, Adjunct Theatre Professor, Bunker Hill Community College on 6/23/20

The text touches on many subjects within the field of theatre, to the extent that it isn’t clear what purpose this book serves. Due to it’s broad range of subjects the depth is lacking, and the organization is at times questionable.

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Reviewed by Robert St. Laurence, Adjunct Theatre Professor, Bunker Hill Community College on 6/23/20

Comprehensiveness
rating:
4
see less

The text touches on many subjects within the field of theatre, to the extent that it isn’t clear what purpose this book serves. Due to it’s broad range of subjects the depth is lacking, and the organization is at times questionable.

Content Accuracy
rating:
5

As much as can be expected for an art form that inherently has some room for subjectivity, this text does a good job of not over stating any potentially controversial areas. Consequently, it can feel a little watered down at times.

Relevance/Longevity
rating:
4

Theatre technology and performance spaces change rapidly, so naturally the text isn’t as current as desired. Theatrical projection design has evolved into an independent design field for production teams and immersive spaces should be touched on more.

Clarity
rating:
5

The text is very digestible. At times, the writing is rather conversational (in a good way), which allows the reader to have space for reflection and personal opinions.

Consistency
rating:
5

The text maintains it’s accessible tone throughout. Some of the formatting (blue highlighted sections) of information was unclear, regarding how or why it was separate from the original thread.

Modularity
rating:
4

This text is probably most useful when divided for different courses’ purposes. That being said each individual section does not go indepth enough to be primary reading for a class unit. Excellent supplemental reading to anything a professor is already teaching.

Organization/Structure/Flow
rating:
2

The organization felt a bit like a wikipedia page at times. the content was engaging but it meandered from point to point, seeming without direction. The production half of the text doesn’t seem to flow with the history/literature half of the text.

Interface
rating:
3

Numbers were consistently altered to letters and symbols throughout. This meant all dates were impossible to know, which is very problematic. If this is a widespread problem, it needs addressing asap.

Grammatical Errors
rating:
5

The text wisely does not over complicate it’s language. Spelling is accurate and structure is sound.

Cultural Relevance
rating:
4

I was taken aback by some of the brief mentions of racial inequalities in the production world. I’m glad they were mentioned, as ignoring them does students and society a disservice, but I would have liked a little more attention given to the matters once brought up. It felt like the text was quick to move on from these sensitive topics.

Comments

I will likely find opportunities to incorporate some of this text into my classes, but mostly as additional reading for students who need more clarification or time to sit with topics addressed in classes.

Reviewed by Christin Rills, Adjunct Professor, Bridgewater State University on 6/23/20

This textbook is somewhat comprehensive. It does a decent job of introducing and providing general information several aspects of theater, acting, directing, costuming, but leaves out other important parts, such as playwriting and dramaturgy.

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Reviewed by Christin Rills, Adjunct Professor, Bridgewater State University on 6/23/20

Comprehensiveness
rating:
3
see less

This textbook is somewhat comprehensive. It does a decent job of introducing and providing general information several aspects of theater, acting, directing, costuming, but leaves out other important parts, such as playwriting and dramaturgy.

Content Accuracy
rating:
4

I only notices a few statements that were questionable, but without an index or citations it is difficulty to follow up on sources for information.

Relevance/Longevity
rating:
4

It’s mostly relevant, however a few paragraphs could easily be added to update it.

Clarity
rating:
3

Clarity varies from author to author. The clearest chapter, design, are also the ones that could also be in danger of using the most jargon. However they do an excellent job of defining technical terms including easy to read diagrams. The introductory portion, Mapping Reality, was the most difficult for me to read and seemed to meander. At one point it goes from theater etiquette to talking about “kindly ghosts” in theaters.

Consistency
rating:
2

The inconsistency of this book is what I liked the least. There are 9 contributors to this book, each, for the most part, taking a different chapter of the book. Of course with different writers the tone is going to be different, even the depth of knowledge. However, they could have at least agreed on a structure for each chapter, or edited them that way. Even something as simple as having a glossary with important terms and 3 discussion questions at the end of each chapter would help unify this book. As an instructor it makes developing a class routine around the reading assignments much more difficult not only for myself, but my students as well.

Modularity
rating:
4

For the most part the book can be divided into digestible chunks.

Organization/Structure/Flow
rating:
3

Part one I found difficult to read. It did not seem to have a logical order. Part two was well organized. Part three is pretty random, so it would be just as effective if the chapters were mixed up.

Interface
rating:
2

I read this on an ipad and made notes of what I assumed were interfacing issues and then re-oped on my laptop and had the same issues. Lots of instances of “c” appearing instead an an “e”, tons of dates were unreadable with different characters which is problematic. Some of the graphics with quotes were incorrect. “Han is the only animal that laughs….” by William Hazlitt is an example. I’m not sure if this is a typo or if some sort of character recognition software and it mis-read many of the characters.

Grammatical Errors
rating:
4

There were few grammatical errors. There is a problem with the style and the tone changing so much from chapter to chapter.

Cultural Relevance
rating:
3

It does a decent job of being inclusive but it could be better.

Comments

Overall this is a good starting point for an introductory text. I’ve never had the pleasure of using a textbook that I absolutely loved from cover to cover and this is no exception. However, the lack of citations, glossary and index is very troublesome. In an introductory text, students should be able to turn to the back of the book or click on a term that’s in bold.

The inconsistency in writing style and quality from chapter to chapter isn’t great, but if you like to cherry pick your readings there is some good stuff in here. From a teaching standpoint the inconsistency in the format from chapter to chapter would make it difficult to establish any sort of classroom routine around the readings.

Reviewed by Marisa Jones, Professor of Acting, Speech & World Theatre, Roxbury Community College on 6/16/20

“Theatrical Worlds” is the most comprehensive text available to professors interested in selecting an OER (Open Educational Resource) for their theatre courses. While the book offers a general overview of various topics, ranging from stage…
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Reviewed by Marisa Jones, Professor of Acting, Speech & World Theatre, Roxbury Community College on 6/16/20

Comprehensiveness
rating:
4
see less

“Theatrical Worlds” is the most comprehensive text available to professors interested in selecting an OER (Open Educational Resource) for their theatre courses. While the book offers a general overview of various topics, ranging from stage directions to the American Musical, no single topic is covered in significant depth. However, the text lends itself to use in a variety of introductory theatre courses and is, therefore, an extremely valuable contribution to the otherwise limited catalog.

Content Accuracy
rating:
4

“Theatrical Worlds” is largely a fair and accurate read based on widely-accepted knowledge within the arts discipline. In sections where opinions or high-level ideas are asserted, the authors lean towards the benign rather than the controversial. The text’s contributors are noted by short biographies at the end of the book which is helpful, however, citations throughout the text are rare and sporadic. For ease of reading, the lack of footnotes and citations are preferable, even if the overall documenting of the source material is insufficient.

Relevance/Longevity
rating:
4

The online version of “Theatrical Worlds” appears to have the copyright year of 2014, which is reflective of the topics covered. Given the tremendous cultural changes and historical moments of the last five years, “Theatrical Worlds” would benefit from revisions and updates, including a nod towards the #metoo movement and Black Lives Matter, the success of “Hamilton” and the Broadway shutdown of 2020. It appears that the authors attempted to produce a comprehensive overview of the theatre discipline in general, past to present, which will necessitate some updating as the theatre discipline pivots and evolves.

Clarity
rating:
3

The language used in “Theatrical Worlds” is easy to understand and accessible for most high school and nearly all college students.

Part Two: Theatrical Production

is extremely well-written, organized, and provides an easily digestible account of the “behind-the-scenes” work often left unexplored in other intro-to-theatre texts. In general, the various authors appear to be writing for students at the introductory level but occasionally a term or concept is introduced without context or further explanation – while this feature is not impossible to overcome, some students may need to look outside this text to fully understand all the topics and ideas comprised within it.

Consistency
rating:
4

Given the number of authors contributing to “Theatrical Worlds,” it is unsurprising that the text lacks a theme or overarching narrative. This fact does not, however, interrupt the perceived goal of creating a generalist’s textbook. Additionally, the multiple contributors do not necessarily create an internally inconsistent message (the number of contributions may actually insulate it from expressing a narrow viewpoint), but there are a few content overlaps and perhaps a few content gaps as each individual chapter is connected one to the next.

Modularity
rating:
4

“Theatrical Worlds” could be viewed as a compilation of many shorter texts which are outlined in the table of contents. An index would be helpful in order to navigate the wide range of topics but the division of each section is clear, coherent, and logical. The text is not self-referential and is easily divided for short readings. With the exception of a long (and slightly meandering) introduction, most chapters are straightforward and could be viewed as self-contained units, mostly readable in one sitting. The side-bars are interesting and could serve a number of different purposes in the classroom as they present specific examples highlighted in the surrounding chapters. The interview with Broadway producer Ken Davenport and the article 1833 article written by a German traveler (How to See a Play) stand out – great for insight and context and could possibly be used as a platform for a larger class discussion.

Organization/Structure/Flow
rating:
5

As each topic does not necessarily flow one to the next, the division of the textbook into three parts help to give it shape, dividing like ideas in a clear and logical fashion. “Theatrical Worlds” is arranged into three sections: Creating a World, Theatrical Production, & Special Topics. The first section of the book is largely narrative providing the theory behind theatre as a collaborative art form, one in which the possibilities are limitless. The tone shifts as the reader is brought into the practical and technological aspects of production followed by a look at notable playwrights and theatre genres (the chapter on Shakespeare stands out given its length and prominence in the text). While one could argue about what the authors chose to include (and what was notably left out), the topics that made their way into the book are discussed in an orderly fashion.

Interface
rating:
4

While a quick search of the OER catalog yields “Theatrical Worlds” as a text relevant to my discipline, the first few links were unusable. The Roxbury Community College librarian was able to provide a pdf through the University of Florida website which was extremely helpful. The beautiful production photos, costume renderings, and sidebars are readable and clear. There is no distortion of images, and scrolling through the text was seamless once the pdf was downloaded.

Grammatical Errors
rating:
4

Grammar usage is generally well-executed. Minor spelling and capitalization errors were infrequent. Production of newer edition would likely resolve any of the few editing issues currently in the text.

Cultural Relevance
rating:
4

As mentioned earlier, the world today is very different from the time in which “Theatrical Worlds” was published, and updates to the text would go a long way in solidifying its cultural relevance. However, it is in no way culturally insensitive or offensive and attempts to include BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and female voices, however limited those sections may be. It’s noteworthy that both Anna Deveare Smith (focused on her early work – please expand to include “The Pipeline Project”) and Augusto Boal are featured in the text, among others.

Comments

“Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one.” – Stella Adler (Part One: Creating the World)
As a professor of a number of introductory theatre classes, “Theatrical Worlds” will be the OER text I rely on next school year. My commitment to providing my students with materials that do not place an unnecessary financial burden on them is complicated by the limited number of resources available within my discipline. However, “Theatrical Worlds” covers a wide array of topics and will be useful in Acting I & II, World Theatre, Theatre Appreciation and Theatre Production courses. While I do not think this text would serve a purpose in a rigorous BFA or graduate studies program, I think it is quite relevant for my students at the community college level. I appreciate that the authors chose to add this text to the OER network.

Reviewed by Edward Eaton, Instructor, Massachusetts Bay Community College on 6/16/20

The book touches on a lot of areas. However, some are not covered well. There appears to be an attempt at making some of the subjects discussed more relevant in terms of today’s social and political movements at the expense of subjects that should…
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Reviewed by Edward Eaton, Instructor, Massachusetts Bay Community College on 6/16/20

Comprehensiveness
rating:
2
see less

The book touches on a lot of areas. However, some are not covered well. There appears to be an attempt at making some of the subjects discussed more relevant in terms of today’s social and political movements at the expense of subjects that should be covered or expanded on more fully.
The essays are inconsistent in the quality of the writing and of the research. Sometimes the choices made are sloppy. The whole volume needs to be edited and then proofread.
It seems inexplicable that in the section “Theatrical Production”, the playwright is left out. For an introductory book, the actual way a production is put together is not covered very well. The subsection “How to Read a Play” spends almost no time giving advice to students; instead, it goes into a rather casual and sloppy description of structure. There is also something of an obsession with the idea ‘theme’, which suggests that the writers are not familiar with Aristotle or other classical and traditional theorists.

Content Accuracy
rating:
3

In some places, the writers are simply wrong. In some places, they make decisions to highlight certain aspects of theatre without explaining why one specific area in lieu of another. Certainly, ‘Feminist’ theatre is important, but it does not necessarily make sense to include it so prominently to the exclusion of other more demonstrably influential genres.
Some of the essays are quite good. Jeremy Fiebig’s essay “The World of Shakespeare” may inexplicably criticize Shakespeare for being a white male and latches on to that old and questionable theory that boys played women on stage, however, for the most part, it covers the topic nicely. Margaret R. Butler’s “The American Musical” and Michelle Hayjord’s “World Theatre” are well-researched and well-crafted chapters that even students with more experience and education in theatre might learn much from. Others are not as strong.

Relevance/Longevity
rating:
3

The writers try hard to be relevant, which suggests that the book with not have any real staying power.

Clarity
rating:
3

For the most part, this book is clear and easy to understand. There is a great need for editing. It feels rushed–as if the writers were told to get their chapters in sooner than they thought. The introduction rambles a bit, as does the Shakespeare section. Perhaps it is a problem with the transfer, but the placement of the pictures and sidebars does not always make sense.

Consistency
rating:
2

This was written by several writers. They are stylistically and scholastically inconsistent. One thing they all have in common is that each section comes across as rushed and that the writers were more concerned with putting in their own areas of special interest instead of putting together a solid introduction to theatre.

Modularity
rating:
3

The book is essentially a series of essays by different teachers and scholars. Each essay more or less could stand on its own, even though there is a logic to the organization and to most of the general topic choices. There are some internal divisions, but these do not follow a specific organization.

Organization/Structure/Flow
rating:
5

The book’s structure, overall, is fine.

Interface
rating:
4

Navigation is generally fine. A couple of the images seem to be smudged. In one case, at least (the list of Shakespeare’s plays), a clean version of the image certainly could have been found or created.

Grammatical Errors
rating:
2

There are a lot of proofreading errors and even some fairly basic grammatical errors. Some of these (numbers and letters, for example) are seemingly the result of transferring data to the format. However, it comes across as sloppy.

Cultural Relevance
rating:
3

It covers the bases and makes sure it offends no one.

Comments

It is not very good. I would not use this for an introductory class. I did find it interesting, but that is because I am interested in the subject area–and have studied it extensively. No one without a background in theatre would find much use for this book.

Reviewed by Danielle Barry, Associate Adjunct Prof, Raritan Valley Community College on 4/13/20

See all comments in final comment.

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Reviewed by Danielle Barry, Associate Adjunct Prof, Raritan Valley Community College on 4/13/20

Comprehensiveness
rating:
4
see less

See all comments in final comment.

Content Accuracy
rating:
5

See all comments in final comment.

Relevance/Longevity
rating:
4

See all comments in final comment.

Clarity
rating:
3

See all comments in final comment.

Consistency
rating:
3

See all comments in final comment.

Modularity
rating:
4

Se all comments in final comment.

Organization/Structure/Flow
rating:
4

See all comments in final comment.

Interface
rating:
2

See all comments in final comments.

Grammatical Errors
rating:
4

See all comments in final comments.

Cultural Relevance
rating:
4

See all comments in final comments.

Comments

Review of Open Textbook – Theatrical Worlds – Mitchell
DATE: Submitted by email 4-13-20
TO: Open Textbook Network
FROM: Danielle Barry, Associate Adjunct Professor
Raritan Valley Community College
Branchburg, NJ 08876
Danielle.Barry@raritanval.edu
Per email reminder dated 4-6-20 and as suggested, I am completing my review on separate paper and will attach to email review form in the final additional comments box.
Elements to review:
(5 is high, 1 is low)
1. Comprehensiveness – 4 – As another reviewer noted, the fact that the “Writer” is not covered here is big lack. The writer is certainly equal in importance to actor and director./////I very much liked the treatment of “Actor”. The work on Stanislavski, DelSarte and Quintilian were rich and yet concise. Loved the pictures accompanying
2. Accuracy – 5 – Tho’ I am no expert I saw no facts that I felt deserved challenge.
3. Relevance – 4 – There were names used that were current to today as examples and I don’t see why they wouldn’t be useful for a reasonable amount of time before updating would b required.
4. Clarity – 3- I sometimes felt I would have lost the students, especially in the opening entitled “mapping reality”. Design Chapter made up for this.
5. Consistency – 3- I do sense that different people wrote the different chapters and I felt the loss. Not an awful thing to have many voices….. But I missed hearing one cohesive “voice” in this choppy approach. I miss getting to know one person, one theatrical expert, one approach. This not to say the writing was flawed in any way beyond what I may have cited.
6. Modularity – 4 – There were times that text was indeed in big blocks with little relief to the eye or brain. Origins of Theatre Page 36 . But the pieces can be easily utilized separately. I did like that.
7. Organization/Structure – 4- Fine
8. Interface- 2- I’m not sure if it was a fault in my own access to the book, but there was often wrong type/font gibberish both in text and in images: pg 8 specialness, and the “word cloud” was unintelligible; pg. 7 communicate; pg 10 20rr; pg. 15 ioi; pg. 17 rSqos, and many more…. The later chapters seemed to be more free of these “script” errors. Set design chart Pg. 96 had problems as well. The table of contents has same errors.
9. Grammatical – 4 – accessible
10. Cultural Inclusion – 4- I did notice the Global information. Perhaps a statement (in title or preface) could note that this text coverage goal is “Western Theatre”. That might cover it better then.

11. ADDITONAL COMMENTS: Design was very complete and patient with the reader, meaning comprehensive! Included other facts and info. not presented elsewhere. Nice balance between history and innovation. The lists of terms was good.

Reviewed by Jeanne Tiehen, Assistant Professor, Susquehanna University on 3/10/20

Theatrical Worlds covers the necessary material that can be found in comparable introduction to theatre textbooks. Having used a variety of texts before in Intro courses, Theatrical Worlds addresses key terms and ideas, provides appropriate…
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Reviewed by Jeanne Tiehen, Assistant Professor, Susquehanna University on 3/10/20

Comprehensiveness
rating:
5
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Theatrical Worlds covers the necessary material that can be found in comparable introduction to theatre textbooks. Having used a variety of texts before in Intro courses, Theatrical Worlds addresses key terms and ideas, provides appropriate historical context, and cites major names and their contributions. There are of course areas that could be given more time or attention, and an oversight here or there one might wish were included, but there was nothing left out that is substantial. There were also plenty of terms in bold in each chapter to give the student reader an easy grasp of the main ideas to draw out from each chapter to aid their knowledge.

Content Accuracy
rating:
5

Overall, Theatrical World does a nice job of balancing major ideas in theatre and also highlighting some interesting side topics that supplement these main ideas. It does skew more to European/Western history, but it does still fairly addresses practices in other parts of the world in one chapter and is inclusive in ways comparable to other major intro to theatre textbooks. Most of the information seems to give a fair look at the material at hand. In the beta- version I read, there were a couple minor errors that may be perhaps due to the formatting (a year with a letter in it, a typo here or there), but nothing appeared overtly biased or inaccurate.

Relevance/Longevity
rating:
5

Theatrical World is a fully comprehensive textbook that could be used for several years in most intro courses. Again, as many theatre instructors and professors debate the cost of using an intro textbook (especially for non-majors), any newer trends in the field could be easily addressed through supplemental readings given this has no expense. That being said, I thought the book nicely balanced history, application, and more recent trends and practices in the field, including interviews with professionals and talking about controversies or productions in the last 10 years. These examples also do not seem time sensitive and will not be outdated too soon. Most of the key terms in bold found in each design chapter, directing, etc. are so standard they also do not run much of a risk of becoming irrelevant any time soon.

Clarity
rating:
4

As each chapter is authored by someone different, there is some variety in the prose and the framework of the ideas. For an undergrad, I would say some chapters are more accessible and easy to read than others. A couple chapters now and then presume knowledge about theatre, and a few times in a chapter the analysis would get too deep on certain historical moments or terms. I did not find this an overarching issue with the textbook, however. I also think having different authored chapters can provide another perspective to reading, allowing students to see how people talk about these ideas uniquely. That being said, it was noticeable compared to other textbooks where one might not notice a difference in voice or style of writing.

Consistency
rating:
4

There are some distinct differences between the chapters. I felt the acting chapter was short and could’ve had a bit more information in it, especially compared to the following chapters about directing and design. The Shakespeare chapter was very intensive, and read a bit like an outlier due to its specificity that perhaps might not be a great fit for all Intro courses. Still, most chapters had a good blend of history and practice with a variety of key terms.

Modularity
rating:
4

Most chapters are an appropriate length and easily palatable for an undergrad (20-25 pages or so). The first chapter is an Introduction to the book and reads fairly long and dense. It would likely require a couple assignments to be feasible as an introduction to the course, although the material in the chapter would offer much for discussion and to consider as framing for the rest of the course.

Organization/Structure/Flow
rating:
5

The organization is very similar to other online and print copy textbooks. It covers some theoretical ideas of theatre in the first chapter, then jumps into production, covering topics through individual chapters on acting, directing, set design, costume design, and lighting design. The special topics sections has four chapters: genre, Shakespeare, the American musical and world theatre. The flow of the book makes sense as you get a good idea of some larger ideas in theatre, delve into practice, and conclude with specific and broader application. I do wish the Shakespeare chapter focused more generally on playwrights (play construction is dealt with in an earlier chapter), as certain instructors would wish to address a more broad idea of important playwrights in theatre more closer to their own interests or current practices.

Interface
rating:
4

There are some minor issues here and there with the Beta version including some minor text layout issues or typo numbers or letters. Overall, the images look great and help the chapter examples. The overall format is not quite as glossy or smooth as other online textbooks, but I did not find it to be a problem in reading.

Grammatical Errors
rating:
5

Only very minor grammar issues here and there.

Cultural Relevance
rating:
4

For an introduction textbook, it feels appropriately inclusive of practices in other countries. It addresses some issues of diversity in theatre like race, gender, and sexuality. It could still include more, and some using it might wish that it in fact did. I would say it still addresses these ideas and does not dismiss or ignore them, even if it primarily focuses on more basic ideas in theatre. Overall, many examples of theatre in the first chapter and in following chapters include important theatre groups and artists from other countries and outside of white/European history, so I found it to culturally aware and inclusive.

Comments

Theatrical Worlds offers a comprehensive option for those who want to avoid the costs of textbooks that can be prohibitive for many students. The content and format of the textbook is comparable to several other moderate/expensive textbooks currently used online and in print. The book utilizes a fair amount of images to aid in its information and has bold terms in each chapter that are helpful for students and instructors. It is pretty easy to read for an undergraduate level and gives a good foundation of history and ideas that an instructor can base many lectures/discussions/quizzes/tests from. The book covers a wide amount of topics relevant in theatre, including main ideas in practice, design, acting, and directing. It also addresses theoretical ideas that theatre scholars continue to debate, a broad understanding of theatre practices in other parts of the world, and interesting interviews with professionals in the field. The later chapters on genre, musical theatre, world theatre, and Shakespeare are also engaging to see how the basics can be applied to more in-depth applications in theatre. Any issues with the book are more one of preference and less of a critique of the book itself, and I would recommend this book for many who want the foundation of a textbook for their intro course without worrying that the price will deter students from using it.

Reviewed by Carrie Colton, Assistant Professor, Metropolitan State University of Denver on 3/3/20

Overall, good. I wish theatre history had been broken down differently. It jumped around a lot.

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Reviewed by Carrie Colton, Assistant Professor, Metropolitan State University of Denver on 3/3/20

Comprehensiveness
rating:
4
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Overall, good. I wish theatre history had been broken down differently. It jumped around a lot.

Content Accuracy
rating:
5

Info is good.

Relevance/Longevity
rating:
4

Yes and no. I appreciated the world theatre chapter but I wish the book had a section on American Theatre and the minority theatre here.

Clarity
rating:
5

A lot of text. More pics and play scenes would be better

Consistency
rating:
5

Yes. It jumps a little but the language is clear.

Modularity
rating:
3

Ya, no. Some of these chapters needed to be broken down differently.

Organization/Structure/Flow
rating:
4

Most of it.

Interface
rating:
5

Navigation was super simple.

Grammatical Errors
rating:
5

Perfect.

Cultural Relevance
rating:
5

I do think it covers the cultures that are included, very well.

Comments

It’s good! I think I am going to use it because it has a nice base and even though it’s missing some things, I think overall it will be a good jump off point.

Reviewed by Kelly Bremner, Associate Professor and Chair of Theatre, Emory and Henry College on 11/14/19

The topic is so vast…. but it does a solid job at covering the basics for an introductory student. I like how it is organized by profession. I am always looking for a book for this class that is organized this way, but find so few.

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Reviewed by Kelly Bremner, Associate Professor and Chair of Theatre, Emory and Henry College on 11/14/19

Comprehensiveness
rating:
4
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The topic is so vast…. but it does a solid job at covering the basics for an introductory student. I like how it is organized by profession. I am always looking for a book for this class that is organized this way, but find so few.

Content Accuracy
rating:
4

Theatre is too subjective to be “accurate” per se, but I found the terminology to be well defined and the images quite diverse.

Relevance/Longevity
rating:
5

The book seemed to capture the present state of the Theatre profession as a great window into the larger study of Theatre itself.

Clarity
rating:
4

I think it is always a struggle to find the balance between enough technical language to be important to an Introductory Theatre student, but not too specific for them. At times it is almost too detailed. That would be a lot of content to cover in a call, even though I don’t know exactly what I would want cut.

Consistency
rating:
5

Language is consistent and used well throughout.

Modularity
rating:
5

Loved the sectioning by jobs, and then the special sections related to special topics like Shakespeare, Musicals and Word Theatre.

Organization/Structure/Flow
rating:
5

Loved the sectioning by jobs, and then the special sections related to special topics like Shakespeare, Musicals and Word Theatre.

Interface
rating:
5

No problems. Easy to use,

Grammatical Errors
rating:
4

I caught a few typos….

Cultural Relevance
rating:
4

Great work with diverse content.

Reviewed by Carrie Winship, Assistant Professor, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania on 10/24/19

This text attempts to cover a wide range of topics at an introductory level. It succeeds in some areas of content: the introduction, as well as chapters on design, directing, and Shakespeare are particularly thorough. However, there are some…
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Reviewed by Carrie Winship, Assistant Professor, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania on 10/24/19

Comprehensiveness
rating:
3
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This text attempts to cover a wide range of topics at an introductory level. It succeeds in some areas of content: the introduction, as well as chapters on design, directing, and Shakespeare are particularly thorough. However, there are some notable omissions or areas that are given very little discussion: sound design, dramaturgy, and producing are but a few examples of content areas that need expansion. There is no index or glossary, but the text is searchable and does include terms in bold font throughout that may aid students in locating specific vocabulary terms.

Content Accuracy
rating:
2

The majority of the text appears accurate, but the text does not include a bibliography or in-text citations. This does not provide students the opportunity to further explore the information and claims the book articulates. Perhaps more significantly, the lack of this information suggests to students that there are not competing ideas about the practices, historical developments, and theatrical works that the book explores and engages. This is a substantial oversight.

Relevance/Longevity
rating:
3

Much of the content is relevant, particularly if using this text in an introductory and non-major focused course. However, the book is in need of updating within several sections, including musical theatre and world theatre. The design sections also need updating to reflect changes in technology and practice. While it is impossible to expect all textbooks to be addressing the newest developments, I think this text is in need of updating at this time.

Clarity
rating:
5

The text is very readable and defines specific jargon used in theatrical practice (which is part of its goal as an introductory text). The fact that the text is searchable also makes it accessible and reader friendly.

Consistency
rating:
4

The book features several authors as it is an edited collection, but it still remains fairly consistent in terms of reading level and overall voice. There are few places where the content feels repetitive or contradictory as a result of different authors. Furthermore, I appreciate that the book includes a array of authorial voices–I think this adds to the richness of the material.

Modularity
rating:
4

The text on the whole is very modular and easy to break up into smaller assigned readings. I find the interwoven interviews and highlighted content sections particularly useful for assigning smaller sections of content. There are a couple chapters where this is not the case, and these would be served by the incorporation of headings and subheadings.

Organization/Structure/Flow
rating:
4

Overall, the organization of the text is logical and supports the student reader. The text begins by exploring broader aspects of theatre, moves to more in-depth discussion of practice, and then ends with more intermediate-level explorations of specific topics. I would prefer that “World Theatre” be eliminated as a separate section and the book was more inclusive of non-western practices and history throughout the entire text.

Interface
rating:
5

I experienced no issues accessing, displaying, or navigating the text. I appreciated the quality of the images and amount of images included throughout the text.

Grammatical Errors
rating:
4

The book contains some grammatical errors, but few that are distracting or significantly impact its readability.

Cultural Relevance
rating:
2

The text does not include enough content overall that is outside of the dominant canon, and its brief and inadequate chapter on world theatre is disappointing. While it is an introductory text, it limits its use by focusing predominantly on western voices: Stanislavski, Shakespeare, etc. There is also a lack of representation of women, queer artists, and artists of color in the works it engages and explores. These oversights make the book feel dated and out of step with contemporary discourses in theatre practice and education. Instructors will need to incorporate additional readings and materials to supplement this text.

Comments

While I think the text is in need of updates and edits, I do think it has potential for use in non-major and introductory focused courses. I hope that the book will continue to be developed by the authorial team.

Reviewed by Jennifer Popple, Assistant Professor , Augustana College on 7/31/19

The book has a strong (albeit lengthy) introduction, including the types of theatre and staging practices, as well as solid chapters on (some) aspects of design, world theatre, and the origins of musical theatre. While it does not have a glossary…
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Reviewed by Jennifer Popple, Assistant Professor , Augustana College on 7/31/19

Comprehensiveness
rating:
3
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The book has a strong (albeit lengthy) introduction, including the types of theatre and staging practices, as well as solid chapters on (some) aspects of design, world theatre, and the origins of musical theatre. While it does not have a glossary or index, it is searchable, which is a plus. The different aspects of theatrical practice are strongest in the design and directing chapters. The acting chapter contains little aside from Stanislavski (whose “system” is covered well), there are no chapters on playwriting or dramaturgy, and no full chapter on script analysis (although the basics of the climactic plot structure are covered in the introduction).

Content Accuracy
rating:
4

It’s hard to judge this portion, as the book does not contain a works cited or bibliography list. There are up to date portions in many chapters, but without the sources to back up the information, it’s tough to help students see the evidence.

Relevance/Longevity
rating:
4

The musical theatre chapter is the most behind, as it is missing several groundbreaking productions from the past few years, but that can be supplemented – and it’s a problem in many theatre classes that great art keeps being produced that textbooks struggle to keep up with. The focus on immersive theatre in the staging portion is helpful, but is missing some of the more up-to-date productions, which would need to be supplemented as well. Generally, the book contains much that can be used for some time, with some supplementary materials on the part of the instructor.

Clarity
rating:
5

The writing is extremely clear and accessible, which is perfect for an introductory course.

Consistency
rating:
4

Shakespeare is given an entire huge chapter, which is a bit odd for an introductory textbook, and there is a tremendous amount put into the introductory chapter (some further division there would have been helpful). The remainder of the book is split well.

Modularity
rating:
4

Apart from the introductory chapter, which does have the benefit of subheadings for division of reading, the book has nice divisions within it. It would be very easy to divide it into assigned readings.

Organization/Structure/Flow
rating:
4

The Special Topics section feels a bit odd in its assigned divisions, and the spaces and types of theatre would have been better if they had come earlier in the book. Otherwise, the book is set up in a logical fashion, comparable to other introductory textbooks.

Interface
rating:
5

No problems with interface.

Grammatical Errors
rating:
4

There were some errors throughout that could have been caught easily with a solid editor.

Cultural Relevance
rating:
4

World theatre is given its own chapter, which is not where theatre studies are going right now (and is something that would need to be pushed back on in the class if the text was used), and aspects of theatre produced by other communities in the U.S. was not covered apart from a good focus in the genre portion on companies that have done political theatre.

Comments

While I don’t think I would use the entire book, I do think some of the chapters (on design in particular) are strong enough to be included in my class. I look forward to more open access Introduction to Theatre textbooks!

Reviewed by Gabriel Vanover, Assistant Professor of Theatre, Hanover College on 1/25/19

The book is very elementary in its coverage of theatrical practices, traditions, and technical processes, but also omits entire areas of the arts, including playwriting, dramaturgy and producing.

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Reviewed by Gabriel Vanover, Assistant Professor of Theatre, Hanover College on 1/25/19

Comprehensiveness
rating:
3
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The book is very elementary in its coverage of theatrical practices, traditions, and technical processes, but also omits entire areas of the arts, including playwriting, dramaturgy and producing.

Content Accuracy
rating:
3

The materials in the book seem credible and correct, but the lack of any glossary or work cited, as well as its lack of citations within the text cause it to loose credibility.

Relevance/Longevity
rating:
3

The materials in the first half of the book are up-to-date, but don’t cover new trends that will be the traditions and standards of the near future. The musical theatre chapter is already out-of-date, not covering recent or current productions of significance, including Hamilton.

Clarity
rating:
2

The book attempts to introduce students to terminology, but because it lacks any glossary or index, it sets students up for confusion.

Consistency
rating:
2

Because it is a collaboratively written text, it lacks a consistent voice and tone. The book could have been helped by a strong editor.

Modularity
rating:
4

The modularity of the book is one of its only strengths, primarily because it has a dedicated writer for each chapter. Some chapters and units are strong enough to use on there own, but many would need supplemental materials to provide a more in-depth course and to bring clarity.

Organization/Structure/Flow
rating:
3

Not certain why the last section of the textbook has been divorced from the first two-thirds. Most of those topics, including genre, seem like they could’ve been incorporated in early sections of the book.

Interface
rating:
4

The book does provide handsome images and charts, though more would be welcome, as well as captains explaining their significance.

Grammatical Errors
rating:
2

Multiple grammar and spelling errors throughout the text. A strong editor would have been beneficial for this text.

Cultural Relevance
rating:
3

Nothing is offensive, but the text is rather Eurocentric in its approach and could’ve been strengthened by including more references to non-traditional theatre, non-white theatre in the US and the role of the LGBT community in the world of theatre.

Reviewed by Christiana Molldrem Harkulich, Assistant Professor, Miami University of Ohio on 2/1/18

This text covers a wide range of subjects surrounding Theatre- acting, directing, design, and then Shakespeare, World Theatre, and Musical Theatre. It is a mix of Intro textbook and Theatre History textbook. The sections on Design (scenic,…
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Reviewed by Christiana Molldrem Harkulich, Assistant Professor, Miami University of Ohio on 2/1/18

Comprehensiveness
rating:
4
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This text covers a wide range of subjects surrounding Theatre- acting, directing, design, and then Shakespeare, World Theatre, and Musical Theatre. It is a mix of Intro textbook and Theatre History textbook. The sections on Design (scenic, lighting, and costume) is particularly useful and much better than several intro textbooks I have used previously. I especially enjoyed the interviews with designers, and I think that students will enjoy those. The major gap I see in this text is that If you’re looking for a text that will help break down how to read a play, thinking about beats and objectives or even Aristotelian linear plot structures this text does not do that. There is no index or glossary, although the text is searchable and they have bolded key words. Sound design is given very little space. The Shakespeare section is very long, and frankly somewhat unnecessary, although quite comprehensive.

Content Accuracy
rating:
4

Overall, the book maintains accuracy fairly well- especially in the sections Introductory and design sections. However, the history sections (which make up a large section of this book) are un-cited and do not have suggested further reading sections- so they present many ideas of the past and the rest of the world as fact when they are not, which would make me uncomfortable using this text in a theatre history class. I suppose, however, that a textbook needs to present a clear narrative.

Relevance/Longevity
rating:
4

I think the design sections will be useful for many years, although the sections on technology will need to be updated as that changes.The Musical Theatre and World Theatre sections will need to be updated as time passes. On the whole, the book’s structure and content will hold up.

Clarity
rating:
5

The text is VERY readable and accessible.

Consistency
rating:
4

The first and second sections of the book are quite consistent in what they write about and how they write about it, and I think would be quite easy to teach. The third section- Special Topics- which covers: Genre, Shakespeare, Musical Theatre, and World Theatre- is inconsistent in terms of space. While Shakespeare is a major aspect of theatre, it is interesting that so many more pages are given to Shakespeare than all of the rest of the world.

Modularity
rating:
5

The modularity is great. I love the block sections and subheadings. Potentially very useful in assigning shorter readings.

Organization/Structure/Flow
rating:
4

I wish genre came earlier in the textbook, since that is mostly where we get a framework for talking about different kinds of plays. Other than that I think the organizational flow is very good.

Interface
rating:
5

The text is easy to use and utilizes the form for LOTS of full-color production photos which is marvelous.

Grammatical Errors
rating:
5

The grammar in the book is good.

Cultural Relevance
rating:
3

The book puts all world cultures into one chapter at the end, which presents a Theatre as Western/everyone else dichotomy which isn’t great. The world theatre section is written well.

Comments

I look forward to using sections of this text in the future!

Reviewed by Catherine Schuler, Professor, University of Maryland, College Park on 2/1/18

The book includes three sections: Creating a World, Theatrical Production, and Special Topics. As one might expect in an intro text for non-majors, part two is the most comprehensive, probably because it best reflects the authors’ primary…
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Reviewed by Catherine Schuler, Professor, University of Maryland, College Park on 2/1/18

Comprehensiveness
rating:
2
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The book includes three sections: Creating a World, Theatrical Production, and Special Topics. As one might expect in an intro text for non-majors, part two is the most comprehensive, probably because it best reflects the authors’ primary interests. Nonetheless, the authors rarely move beyond canon practices (i.e. Stanislavskii) and productions. Part one wanders through theatre history, backstage myth, audience etiquette, and cliches like “the magic of theatre –part history, part myth, part spectator etiquette–wanders. Despite a nod to “world theatre,” part three, “Special Topics,” is the least comprehensive and least satisfactory. The lack of original thinking (reflected in the prominent place given to Shakespeare and the American Musical) is particularly troubling.

Content Accuracy
rating:
3

In parts one and two, I noted many unsupported claims and occasional inaccuracies (for example, the characterization of Aristotle as a “drama critic”). Theatre and performance seem to be interchangeable (they’re not). “Decorum” is mischaracterized. “Performativity,” not a concept for an intro text, is mentioned in passing, but never defined. Somehow the author of the chapter on acting connects Quintilian (rhetoric) to Delsarte (reflexology) through signifying gesture. Few theatre practitioners and scholars still think of the director as a translator for the playwright. And so on. Bias reveals itself in the text’s Anglo American focus and in what too many of the authors omit–gender, race, class, ethnicity, and many, many genres of theatrical theory, history, and practice.

Relevance/Longevity
rating:
3

As long as white men dominate the profession and the academy and graduate students teach intro to theatre, this text will remain relevant.

Clarity
rating:
3

See my comment above on “performativity.” While this kind of oversight isn’t constant, it occurs often enough to cause concern.

Consistency
rating:
3

Yes and no. This book is an edited volume rather than a unified text written by a single-author. The very choice of genre compromises its consistency, but I expect that from an edited volume. The authors don’t contradict each other, but each has her or his own topic.

Modularity
rating:
5

Yes, I think that the language above describes the text accurately.

Organization/Structure/Flow
rating:
2

Part one is a stand alone unit that tries to cover too much ground. Too often logical segues from one topic to the next are missing. The topics in part two are presented in a logical fashion. Part three is random.

Interface
rating:
5

I didn’t have problems, but I downloaded it to my iBooks where it behaved like all of other texts.

Grammatical Errors
rating:
2

As former editor of a prominent theatre journal, I was astonished at the number of typographical errors. The volume editor needs a good copy editor.

Cultural Relevance
rating:
2

See my comments above. One chapter on “world theatre” does not = relevance. Insensitivity to gender certainly mars the text and again, the authors focus primarily on Anglo American plays and production practices.

Comments

I have been very hard on this book because I strongly believe that intro texts targeted primarily to non-majors should draw new audiences to live theatre. With its rather tedious emphasis on canon texts and production practices, I don’t think this book accomplishes that. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have good moments. I’m sure it would work in a standard, large lecture intro to theatre class taught by practitioners (rather than scholars) and advanced graduate students.

Reviewed by Scott Walters, Professor of Drama, University of North Carolina at Asheville on 8/15/17

This is an interesting book in that it is somewhat of a hybrid — a combination of an Introduction to Theatre book and a Theatre History book. It successfully covers all the major players in a theatre production while providing reasonably thorough…
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Reviewed by Scott Walters, Professor of Drama, University of North Carolina at Asheville on 8/15/17

Comprehensiveness
rating:
5
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This is an interesting book in that it is somewhat of a hybrid — a combination of an Introduction to Theatre book and a Theatre History book. It successfully covers all the major players in a theatre production while providing reasonably thorough descriptions of the history of those roles. It then supplements this with full chapters on Shakespeare, the American Musical, and the World Theatre. The book does not have an index or glossary.

Content Accuracy
rating:
5

The book is accurate and unbiased, following a fairly well-worn path used by many other introductory textbooks. One minor but important change should be made to the inset box called “Cross-Dressing in Performance: Dan, Hijra, Takarazuka” in the World Theatre chapter.” In the description, the author refers to “transgendered women” — the preferred term is “transgender women.”

Relevance/Longevity
rating:
5

For the most part, the content should stand the test of time. The only parts that might have to be updated involve things like technology (in the lighting chapter) and changes in the geo-political climate (e.g., the segment on Chinese censorship). These are minor. Overall, this book should remain fairly stable.

Clarity
rating:
5

This is a textbook that has a different author for each segment. While every chapter is clear and readable, some are more dynamic than others. I particularly commend Charlie Mitchell and Michelle Hayford’s chapter “Mapping Reality,” which is extremely well-written and fascinating.

Consistency
rating:
5

The structure of the book is consistent, containing insets with interviews with a representative artist for each topic, thorough examinations of illustrative examples, and usually each chapter has an overview of the history as well as a thorough description of the duties and processes of each member of the artistic staff. (I say “usually” because the chapter on Costumes does not have an historic overview.)

Modularity
rating:
5

Each chapter stands complete on its own, and can easily be separated from other chapters without causing students to be puzzled. Sometimes, this means a little redundancy between chapters, but nothing overly serious. Someone teaching a theatre history course could easily separate out those sections of each chapter devoted to the subject, and those focusing only on describing who does what on a show can do the same.

Organization/Structure/Flow
rating:
4

The book follows a logical progression through the various members of the artistic team with the puzzling exception of the playwright (I think the editor might consider adding a chapter concerning this important artist). The chapter on Genre seems a bit tacked on, although the part on “isms” is valuable.

Interface
rating:
4

Very easy to read online with many vibrant color pictures. The hyperlinked table of contents aids navigation. Without an index or glossary, having the subtopics included in the TOC might be helpful.

Grammatical Errors
rating:
5

The book is very well-written and edited. Impressive.

Cultural Relevance
rating:
5

Aside from the “transgender” issue mentioned above, this book includes a great deal of diversity.

Comments

As someone who teaches theatre history (but not an introduction to theatre class), I have always had to make a decision between assigning and expensive anthology of plays and an equally expensive theatre history textbook. I have always chosen the anthology and provided the theatre history through lecture. This book will allow me to assign the theatre history segments of the book to supplement the anthology, which will allow me to lecture less. Excellent resource!

Reviewed by Ken Parks, Associate Professor of Theatre, Randolph College on 8/15/17

There is a a wealth of information in this book and more detail in some sections than is commonly found in introductory texts. Yet it suffers from too little that pulls the separate discussions together to provide a comprehensive understanding of…
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Reviewed by Ken Parks, Associate Professor of Theatre, Randolph College on 8/15/17

Comprehensiveness
rating:
3
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There is a a wealth of information in this book and more detail in some sections than is commonly found in introductory texts. Yet it suffers from too little that pulls the separate discussions together to provide a comprehensive understanding of the subject.
The Theatrical Production chapters are well crafted, balancing theory and practice in a way that both provides overview and gives the reader the way to begin in each specialized area. The various authors describe process in similar ways: steps and considerations are repeated across the chapters; which reinforces a generalized focus to the work. A separate chapter that addresses the development of the work as a whole, with emphasis on the collaborative process and the integration of individual efforts, would serve to fill in the gaps and foster a more comprehensive understanding, and provide the opportunity to include production management in the discussion.
The Special Topics chapters are perhaps too detailed, setting that section off beyond the general purpose of the book. If elements of the special topics discussions were incorporated more in the earlier chapters, the Special Topics section could be used for further reading or advanced study. As it stands the detail is too specialized and the chapters, which individually are quite thorough treatments, fail to provide a comprehensive viewpoint. This is especially true with the World Theatre chapter, where the detailed presentation of select theatre forms creates a sense of difference rather than emphasize the universality of the theatrical impulse. The opportunity lies in the first chapter where too much is treated too broadly. The first chapter could easily become three or four if the sub-sections were expanded to match the level of detail in the production chapters and elements from the special topics chapters were integrated into the general discussion.
The Beta version has no index or glossary. Specialty terms are introduced throughout the book, most notably in the Special Topics chapters. Many are presented without explanation in the text. A hyper-linked glossary would be a welcome addition.

Content Accuracy
rating:
5

The text appears to be accurate and error free for the most part, with one obvious oversight on page 43, where Oedipus is given to be both the son of Laius and Jocasta, and “not the son of King Laius.”

Relevance/Longevity
rating:
5

As a general survey the information presented in the text has lasting relevance. Periodic updates to reference newer work and technologies may be desired to keep the discussion fresh, but not necessary. As a digital publication references can be updated relatively easily.

Clarity
rating:
4

Awkward phrasing, convoluted and choppy syntax, and occasional non-sequiturs at the beginning make it hard to get interested in the text, but that evens out midway through the first chapter. The Theatrical Production chapters read very well with language that is both accessible and compelling. The Special Topics chapters are organized well and provide considerable insight, but often include references that are not explained in context.

Consistency
rating:
3

The advantage of many writers is the richness of perspectives. That plays well in the production chapters where the authors clearly share a similar vision of the work. The inconsistency is between the three sections. The first section includes too much in a single chapter. Topics are hit on briefly and presented with too little detail. The third section too detailed to incorporate in a survey course. The production chapters are well balanced but their separate discussions remain solitary.

Modularity
rating:
2

The single chapter covering history and criticism, the meaning and uses of theatre, and the nature of art, is inconsistent with the separate chapters afforded to each of the production areas. Divining a reading schedule that balances the work across a semester would be difficult.

Organization/Structure/Flow
rating:
4

The organization is good. The topics introduced in the first chapter develop the purpose and value of theatre and lead the student into the production chapters. The production chapters provide a framework for practice and promote a broader interest. The special topics chapters answer that call with more in depth study.
The discussions of the nature of art and the uses of theatre in the first chapter are particularly good and well placed at the beginning of the book. The first chapter is too condensed with jumps in thought and random details that read as anecdotal rather than typical examples. Expanding the various topics of the first chapter would go far to make the text more well rounded and improve the flow.

Interface
rating:
5

The pages display well in i-books and there is a graphic display of pages available at the bottom of the page that allows quick navigation. Different reader software may provide other tools.

Grammatical Errors
rating:
4

Grammar is typically quite good, with notable exceptions in the first chapter. (pg. 3 “The director who shaped this production, once a powerful creative force, is now helplessness.”; pg. 7 ” A working definition of art . . . has occupied us for centuries.”)

Cultural Relevance
rating:
3

A separate chapter for World Theatre that presents examples that are not referenced in the general discussion of the theatre, emphasizes the otherness of non-western traditions and works against the inclusive perspective of the first chapter.

Comments

Overall the book is an enjoyable read and includes material that I will use in classes. It suffers most from a first chapter that is too condensed and difficult to read. That would prevent my adopting it for an introduction to theatre class where I need a better balance.

Reviewed by Tinamarie Ivey, Faculty, Linn Benton Community College on 6/20/17

This text is extremely helpful as a general resource and overview of theater. It is best for students who have little to no exposure to the arts and all the components that come together to create a production. It is also a good resource for…
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Reviewed by Tinamarie Ivey, Faculty, Linn Benton Community College on 6/20/17

Comprehensiveness
rating:
5
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This text is extremely helpful as a general resource and overview of theater. It is best for students who have little to no exposure to the arts and all the components that come together to create a production. It is also a good resource for students to understand Genre and how it relates to the different types/styles of theater; and the student will benefit greatly from understanding of how theater affects our day-to-day lives.

Content Accuracy
rating:
5

The content is accurate and does not appear biased. There is quite a bit of detail, and more so than other sections, upon Shakespeare. This may be intentional due to the intention of the instructor who compiled for instruction purposes. Regardless, I appreciated the amount of work put into compiling an enormous amount of vital information on theater.

Relevance/Longevity
rating:
4

Since commedia dell’arte is known for the mask work I believe offering an explanation in the way of an image or text would better describe the art form. Commedia dell’Arte which translates as “theatre of the professional” which has significance to theater overall. AND it is the first time women are found on stage performing.

Clarity
rating:
5

There is an ease to reading the material within this text. I appreciate the attention placed upon how the material is presented and the clarity of how the material builds upon the each section.

Consistency
rating:
5

This text offers consistent terminology that offers the student a vivid and concise resource for theater.

Modularity
rating:
5

The structure of the reading sections are very easy to follow and find information. I appreciate the subsections and the bolding of sections within the text which helps finding information quickly and easily.

Organization/Structure/Flow
rating:
5

I believe it’s difficult to speak about theater without mentioning the impact that the Greeks have played. And more specifically the origins of theater, most students are quite surprised when they learn this – and that the origins of theater are based in religious ritual. I give high points on the organization based on that alone, not on what I perceive as components important to include. (do acknowledge that elements of the amphitheater were addressed in Set Design.)

Interface
rating:
5

Images are very helpful to the student to better understand the text. I especially appreciate describing how designers play an intriguing role in the storytelling of a play and the images offered to illustrate lighting equipment, which can be very difficult for students to imagine without a reference.

Grammatical Errors
rating:
4

‘Wokabout Marketing’ page 46
arti culating…..Acting page 51
actormanagers….Directoring page 65
riserlike….Lighting page 84
noh…page 86 (should be Noh)
lightemitting….lighting page 136 (light-emitting) it may be a choice, I don’t know.
wellknown…page 154
centuryBCE …page 157 Genre
authenticlooking…page 160
wellknown..page 164
Englishspeaking…page 168
Stratfordupon-Avon…page 170 (Stratford-upon-Avon)
Globe Theatre and the “Beere bayting” …page 173 (Bear Baiting)
postPuritan…page 177
Euripedes…page 180
Shakespeares…page 182
Interpreting Shakespeare In the theatrical tradition,…page 190 (the ‘i’ is capitalized within sentence.)

Cultural Relevance
rating:
5

I find it would be essential to include a section on African American Theater. There is mention of the minstrel shows and the historical relevance thoug I believe that it would be beneficial to add a section addressing the progress of the movement of African Americans in theater after that.

Comments

I realize that Theater is a big subject and this text does a good job covering a nice variety – there is alot of Shakespeare in ratio to other subjects; it would seem that Commedia dell’arte could be properly explained: it is an extremely important Genre that greatly influenced not only Moliere but slapstick comedy (in fact the word ‘slapstick’ comes from the battochio used in commedia); Though, this in no way diminishes the value of the text for the new learner.

Reviewed by Brad Stoller, Associate Professor, Piedmont Va Community College on 2/15/17

Though this book does cover a vast areas of theatre both in the west and other parts of the world it does not provide an index.

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Reviewed by Brad Stoller, Associate Professor, Piedmont Va Community College on 2/15/17

Comprehensiveness
rating:
4
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Though this book does cover a vast areas of theatre both in the west and other parts of the world it does not provide an index.

Content Accuracy
rating:
4

In areas of production and design I found that the book accurately portrayed the life of an artist in the field. It is refreshing to have members of the technical design as well as professionals in directing and acting included together.

Relevance/Longevity
rating:
4

I would say that the text will not be obsolete very quickly and or be able to be updated fairly easily.

Clarity
rating:
5

Jargon in theatre is becoming less and less obscure to the general public as so much of our contemporary wold is being viewed through the theatrical/film lens. So even though there is jargon I don’t see that as a problem.

Consistency
rating:
4

The book is arranged in such a way that the separate sections exist on their own merits and internal structure. I admire that they authors don’t try to sound like they are too alike. In fact though, I would prefer even more distinction between the voices.

Modularity
rating:
5

I would say the strength of this book is that it can so easily be broken up into modular sections and used in a variety of classes.

Organization/Structure/Flow
rating:
4

I would prefer the text were arranged slightly differently. The flow of book is challenged by saving until the end all of the various international theatre instead of them being an appendix. I appreciate the attempt to try to include other theatre outside the west in the main text but they are not given enough weight or detail to merit it. I would prefer them to be separated.

Interface
rating:
4

There really aren’t many charts. The images are helpful and contribute to the navigation of the text to find the section the student might want to find.

Grammatical Errors
rating:
5

NO errors.

Cultural Relevance
rating:
4

The inclusion of cultural sensitive issues in present in theatre in general. Including the world of theatre outside of the west shows a contrast to mainstream American/western culture. There is though a fringe theatre element that is no well represented and in my opinion cannot be expressed well in this kind of text. Cabaret, avant and improvisation theatre is impossible to pin down.

Reviewed by Laszlo Fulop, Associate Professor, University of New Orleans on 2/8/17

The book takes a comprehensive look at theater. It starts out with an essay about the basic elements and qualities of theater, about meaning, etc. The sub-chapter about the origins of theater could have connected to a short historical overview….
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Reviewed by Laszlo Fulop, Associate Professor, University of New Orleans on 2/8/17

Comprehensiveness
rating:
4
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The book takes a comprehensive look at theater. It starts out with an essay about the basic elements and qualities of theater, about meaning, etc. The sub-chapter about the origins of theater could have connected to a short historical overview. Thus, at first glance, a historical overview of theater is missing. But reading the book one realizes that the history of the theater is covered in various chapters. There is a significant historical perspective in all the main chapters (acting, directing, set design–where some elements of Greek, Roman, and old Christian church theater are explained–, lighting design, and in all the chapters of “

Part Three: Special Topics

,” which deal with genre, Shakespeare, the American Musical, and World Theater. Does this add up to a coherent historical overview? Not really, but after all this is not a book about the history of theater.
Throughout the book, there are good interviews with a producer, a casting director, a sound designer, etc. those additional important roles in production that do not get a full chapter. My only issue with this is that these interviews are not mentioned in the table of contents. So, if someone is interested in looking up producing or sound design, they would think there is not one word about them in the book. Yes, these are only short interviews, but in an intro book they are helpful, and one should easily find them.
Finally, a glossary (or at least an index) is definitely missing from this introductory book.

Content Accuracy
rating:
3

There is a little bit of script analysis in the first chapter, where the writer mentions protagonist and antagonist and some important points in the plot. But the explanation of theme is not clear. Most importantly, “dramatic action” is mentioned but not explained and “conflict” is not even mentioned (literally, the word “conflict” doesn’t appear at all in the whole book), which is somewhat of a mistake.

Relevance/Longevity
rating:
5

The text will stay relevant for a long time.

Clarity
rating:
5

Nice and clear prose.

Consistency
rating:
4

The book is usually consistent in approaching its subject matter. The chapter about lighting design has too many details about the various lamps and other devices used in production. This type of detail is missing from the other chapters.

Modularity
rating:
5

No issues.

Organization/Structure/Flow
rating:
5

Good.

Interface
rating:
5

Good.

Grammatical Errors
rating:
5

Seems correct. I haven’t found any typos or mistakes.

Cultural Relevance
rating:
4

In the chapter about directing, the theater director is usually referred to as a “he.”

Reviewed by David Mroden, Assistant Professor, University of Arizona on 2/8/17

This text covers a lot of ground; perhaps too much. It starts out as an overview of the theatrical process, examining the different areas of production, performance and design, then shifts to an exploration of Shakespeare throughout the past five…
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Reviewed by David Mroden, Assistant Professor, University of Arizona on 2/8/17

Comprehensiveness
rating:
3
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This text covers a lot of ground; perhaps too much. It starts out as an overview of the theatrical process, examining the different areas of production, performance and design, then shifts to an exploration of Shakespeare throughout the past five centuries, shifts to a journey through the history of musical theatre and then finishes with a broad, shallow sketch of world theatre. It attempts to pack a lot of information into one text and ends up feeling a bit schizophrenic. Each individual section could be useful in teaching a specific facet of the art of theatre; added together, it’s a bit confusing.

Content Accuracy
rating:
4

While it feels generally accurate in its information, there are one or two significant exceptions (including the culture of the Indian ‘hijras’ in a theatrical text seems inappropriate and not relevant). The book does a nice job of stepping through the different areas of production – from performance to direction to design — giving the neophyte a good overall understanding of what’s involved in producing theatrical works. It’s difficult to gauge the accuracy of the section on world theatre as it jumps around from country to country and attempts to summarize each culture with only a paragraph or two on each.

Relevance/Longevity
rating:
4

The first part of the book has great potential as an “Introduction to Theatre” text and gives a good picture of the many pieces of the theatrical puzzle. It is up-to-date in describing current practices and draws on quotes by modern theatre artists to illuminate the material. The information on musical theatre is also up-to-date, but will require periodic updates, as this area of the theatre world is changing rapidly and significantly even as I type this review. The Shakespeare information is good and should stand the test of time, though new trends in Shakespeare performance (gender equity in casting) are ever evolving and would be good to include in future updates. It is difficult to judge the information about world theatre as it does not stick to a single format, discussing historical theatre of some cultures and modern practices of others.

Clarity
rating:
3

The first section of the book does a nice job of describing each area of the theatrical process and how it fits into the overall production process. It tends to get bogged down in minutiae at times (it doesn’t seem necessary to list every type of lighting instrument of lighting board in use). The sections on Shakespeare and musical theatre are generally good. The final section on world theatre feels sprawling and confusing. Spending only a paragraph or two to describe a country’s theatrical culture left me feeling overwhelmed by the plethora of names, dates and concepts. This section could easily be expanded into its own world theatre text if each area was expanded to include a more comprehensive picture of the culture and its performance tradition. I didn’t feel like I really learned anything lasting from this part of the book.

Consistency
rating:
2

The book starts out with some really useful and readable elements. The use of quotes by theatrical professionals gives the student in an introductory course and very relatable and human voice to attach to the esoteric demands of each part of the theatrical craft. These quotes quickly disappear, however, about a quarter of the way into the text. Sidebars are also quite useful in illuminating the material with information on some specific productions or facets of the theatre. It could use many more of these – especially in the sections on world theatre. It does make good use of production photos to understand the visual aspects of different theatrical forms.

Modularity
rating:
3

The modularity of the material is, perhaps, both its strong points and weak point. Because it covers such a broad scope of information, it feels like four or five textbooks stitched into one. This could make it very relevant to a variety of different courses. This modularity, however, made me unsure of how it could be used as the main text for a single course. On the positive side, the information was divided into easily digestible sections and it never felt like it was over-long. The final section was sliced into so many small subsections, however, that I didn’t feel like I was getting any useful takeaway information.

Organization/Structure/Flow
rating:
3

The information within each section is generally well presented and organized into an easy-to-grasp linear progression. It is the flow between sections that frustrated me. It starts out with good information about the theatrical process for the neophyte, progressing from the nuts-and-bolts of the theatrical world to a broader discussion of theatrical genres. The jump to a much more in-depth look at the works of Shakespeare and musical theatre took it to a different level of study beyond the introductory stage. The world theatre section attempted to present too much information with little depth and left me feeling disappointed in what I took away from the book, as a whole.

Interface
rating:
4

The book uses a lot of images, sidebars and quotes to illuminate the text (more at the beginning than later). This made it very readable and made some of the content much more relevant. There could be even more in later editions.

Grammatical Errors
rating:
5

Aside from the occasional typo, the grammar of the text was very good.

Cultural Relevance
rating:
3

This is one of the books strongest points. In nearly all of the discussions, it brought the information back to the present day. The information was timely and always brought the historical information into the modern world. The final section on world theatre, however, threw out a lot of information (names, dates, etc.) without giving a larger picture of the relevance to modern practice in general.

Comments

There was much about this book that I liked. It felt like it could be very useful for a variety of courses if taken in smaller slices (a good attribute for the Open Textbook world). I was frustrated, though, in that it almost tries to cover too much information. It starts out very specific and focused on modern practice and ends with a sprawling section attempting to touch on too many cultures with not enough information about each. I finished the book unsure about what information I could really take away about theatre in other countries when it was covered so briefly (sometimes summarizing an entire theatrical culture in one paragraph). If future editions could either pare away the final section or expand it to an entire text of its own, it could be much more useful and relevant.

Reviewed by Matthew Weedman, Assistant Professor, University of Northern Iowa on 2/8/17

The book is divided into three parts.
Part One is “Creating a World” and is an overview of theatre from Greek Drama to present day productions. This section is an attempt to place theatre in a social and historical context.
Part Two is…
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Reviewed by Matthew Weedman, Assistant Professor, University of Northern Iowa on 2/8/17

Comprehensiveness
rating:
3
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The book is divided into three parts.
Part One is “Creating a World” and is an overview of theatre from Greek Drama to present day productions. This section is an attempt to place theatre in a social and historical context.
Part Two is “Theatrical Production” and is an overview of the actual practice of producing theatre. This section is divided into five chapters, “Acting,” “Directing,” “Set Design,” “Costume Design,” and “Lighting Design.” These chapters are all in depth and effective explorations of the creative and practical process of theatrical production.
Part Three is “Special Topics,” which is a rather scattershot list of chapters that cover a variety of ideas: from “Genre,” to “The American Musical,” to “Shakespeare” and ending with “World Theatre.”
There is no glossary or index and the absence of these vital elements is very strongly felt.

Content Accuracy
rating:
3

The book is accurate as long as we trust the authors as the final arbiters of fact and knowledge. They do not cite any scholarly sources or hyperlink to any outside authorities. As a reader you must accept that their description of the topic is trustworthy and accurate.

Relevance/Longevity
rating:
4

The book seems relevant and up to date in a way that seems engaging and clear. References and images are from both recent and historical examples, although a great deal of information is drawn from university theatres rather than professional productions. The book will need updates soon, but the interface of the text seems to make this accessible.

Clarity
rating:
4

The book is written in accessible language (if sometimes too familiar, which I’ll touch on more in my comments). Occasionally jargon or technical terms are used without any explanations or context clues.

Consistency
rating:
3

Each chapter in this book was written by nine individual writers in what seems like an environment where collaboration was not emphasized. This means that each chapter is tonally very different from the others. The first section, “Creating a World” seems to be from an entirely different text than any of the others which is very jarring. This also leads to repetition of key points.

Modularity
rating:
3

Part Two and Part Three are divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within a course. Part Two in particular seems to be appropriate for an introductory Theatre course and the chapters lend themselves well to general discussion topics that impart information in clear, effective chunks. Part Three covers such a wide range of topics that it seems as though it is not designed for just one class and elements could be included in several different courses.

Organization/Structure/Flow
rating:
3

The second section of the book, “Theatrical Production,” is divided into useful sections that are divisible into self-contained units that would be useful in a general education style theatre course. They are intelligently modeled and deliver information in clear and succinct points. The third sections, “Special Topics” also follows a structure that would allow an instructor to deliver sections of text at different points during a course.
The first section of the book, “Creating a World,” does not have this easy to access structure.

Interface
rating:
5

I read the book on my laptop and found the interface to be clear and accessible. There was no distortion of images or chart and the display did a very nice job of highlighting quotations and including “sidebars” that are useful for furthering more in depth discussion of specific examples.

Grammatical Errors
rating:
5

I found no grammatical errors.

Cultural Relevance
rating:
4

The book is culturally relevant and does not contain anything that is insensitive or offensive. The chapter on Directing does choose to describe the director as the “captain” of a production and to use the pronoun “he” throughout, which is a little unfortunate. The chapter in the Special Topics section on World Theatre is very strong and manages to cover a very diverse discussion of theatrical styles with an admirable degree of thoroughness.

Comments

This is an interesting and frustrating text.
The greatest weakness of the book lies in its first section, “Mapping Reality; an Introduction to Theatre.” This section is a digressive and rambling discussion of theatrical history and context that seems to have no fundamental idea of how to organize itself. It is not a history of the theatre nor is it an attempt to create a way to talk about theory. It’s a mishmash of many different ideas about theatre presented in a scattershot style that is difficult to follow. The material seems too simple for an advanced discussion or seminar course and too discursive to be useful in an introductory general education course. The authorial voice veers from strong, unsupported statements, “Nothing has as much potential as a stage,” or “Because theatre cannot help but generate meaning, it has a strong tendency to be allegorical” to statements that are vague to the point of being incomprehensible, “Theatre has other qualities that, collectively, make it distinct from other art forms”
The second section of the book switches to a more specific discussion of the different roles played by members of a theatrical production’s artistic team. These are strong and interesting and contain a good deal of information. While the discussion may be a little elevated for a basic or introductory course, they are well-written and include a number of good examples.
The third section, “Special Topics” is marked by its varied approach. The first “Genres” is a discussion of theatrical forms that covers theatre from melodrama to farce and attempts to give an overview of the ways that theatrical genres have evolved and grown (without, it must be noted, ever mentioning the name Brecht.) It is a fairly strong entry if a little broad.
The second, “The World of Shakespeare” is a very fast and loosely organized overview of Shakespeare and his influence on theatrical tradition. Far too heavy on the biographical details of Shakespeare’s life it also attempts to outline an attempt to read Shakespeare’s verse and understand language. It is unclear who this section is targeted towards – it is not detailed enough for an acting or voice class and too detailed for an introductory course.
The last section is entitled “World Theatre” and is a worthy attempt, effectively using images and visual examples, to give an introduction to theatrical styles that might not be covered in most General Education theatre courses. Including examples from Iran, Japan, China and Central Asia, this section was presented logically and intelligently and is easily accessible. That the section on “World Theatre” is about the same length as the section on “The American Musical” could be a little problematic.
Overall this text is a solid attempt to tell the story of theatre. Many of its chapters could be incorporated into Theatre History courses or Introductory Courses. By including a glossary and index the editors could strengthen its functionality and usefulness – their absence is sorely missed.

Reviewed by Noreen Barnes, Director of Graduate Studies, Theatre , Virginia Commonwealth University on 2/8/17

This text enters a very competitive market for introductory texts in Theatre. It is only partially comprehensive,
as some aspects of theatrical production are omitted, or given short shrift, such as playwriting, producing and dramaturgy. A huge…
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Reviewed by Noreen Barnes, Director of Graduate Studies, Theatre , Virginia Commonwealth University on 2/8/17

Comprehensiveness
rating:
2
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This text enters a very competitive market for introductory texts in Theatre. It is only partially comprehensive,
as some aspects of theatrical production are omitted, or given short shrift, such as playwriting, producing and dramaturgy. A huge drawback is that there is no glossary, no index, and no citation information for the quoted material in the book. Wikipedia does a better job of documenting source material.

Content Accuracy
rating:
2

There are some spelling errors

Relevance/Longevity
rating:
1

With no mention of several of the important events in theatre in the last two years – particularly “Hamilton” – there are several
sections (Introduction and Chapter on Musical Theatre) that are now obsolete. Text should be updated with additions to be current.

Clarity
rating:
2

Lucidity of prose varies from author to author (there are nine contributors). The strongest sections are those on design, particularly that on Scene Design. Explanations of jargon/terminology in the field are adequate.
Introduction in particular is arbitrary, meandering, and sometimes difficult to follow how the author is linking unrelated events. Text is interrupted by unrelated sidebars. Shakespeare section is circular, redundant, and in need of editing.

Consistency
rating:
2

This varies from author to author.
The chapter on acting is an odd wander through acting history that stops abruptly with no contemporary teachers noted. The Genre chapter contains a section on “Isms” then does not even mention Surrealism, Symbolism, Expressionism and Futurism. The discussion is arbitrary, hard to follow, and off on some genres, such as the origin of the term “melodrama.”

Modularity
rating:
2

Sections can stand alone – and some should stand apart – from the text. I would use the design sections from this text, and complement them with other sources on other areas in theatre production.

Organization/Structure/Flow
rating:
2

Discussion on Genre (one that would actually include more genres and be more organized) should be situated earlier in the text.

Interface
rating:
1

There are no links – to actual source material would be nice.

Grammatical Errors
rating:
2

Uneven – beginning with the description of the text on the UMN site that is incorrect and poorly written. Several incorrect names, captions, accent marks.

Cultural Relevance
rating:
2

The Directing chapter seems to imply that a director can manipulate a playwright’s text at will – plays that are protected by copyright
cannot be altered.
Significant contributors to musical theatre omitted, such as the pioneering production, “Shuffle Along,” and the work of George C. Wolfe.
Although it’s important to note the relationship of live theatre to film, there is too much mention of screen versions (and there should be a photograph of a stage production of “Les Mis” – not the movie).

Comments

Might be acceptable for high school students or community college students, but would need some supplementary materials.

Reviewed by Eric Prince, Professor, Colorado State University on 12/5/16

The book is in need of an index and a glossary with key concepts and terms being clearly explained. No scholarly sources, references, footnotes, or works cited are listed. Attention to the relationship between text and image in conveying meaning…
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Reviewed by Eric Prince, Professor, Colorado State University on 12/5/16

Comprehensiveness
rating:
2
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The book is in need of an index and a glossary with key concepts and terms being clearly explained. No scholarly sources, references, footnotes, or works cited are listed. Attention to the relationship between text and image in conveying meaning as well as interest is needed, especially as an online resource.

Content Accuracy
rating:
3

Content is generally accurate – to the extent that we take the authors on trust as no attributions to sources are indicated. Content ( in all arts related subjects) is often a matter of opinion and judgment rather than a matter of being simply “error-free” and at times value judgments can be superficial and misconceived. I would instance the references to Samuel Beckett as just one example of this.

Relevance/Longevity
rating:
2

The text is not up-to-date or relevant in comparison with similar books in this field.( Further comment in my review on this)
Attention to the relationship between text and image in conveying meaning as well as interest is needed, especially as an online resource. More engagement on the part of the editor with the conceptual unity and intentions of the book as well as the overall balance, focus and originality of content, would help.

Clarity
rating:
2

The prose is accessible but the lucidity varies and technical terms are used on occasion without contextual explanation.
As an instance (p.99) the contributor on set design mentions that “style choices, such as expressionistic, absurdist, epic, or postmodern, also foster a greater degree of abstraction in the design and directing choices.” This is a throw away line but these are complex concepts and some explanation say of German Expressionism, not just in design, but in writing, in directing, in a socio-historical context should have been offered somewhere in the book.. These four genres or conventions all allude to ‘theatrical worlds” as well, a concept that the editor seems not to pursue in the overall scheme of the book or in the editing.This is illustrated by the failure of the later chapter on ‘genres’ to address or refer back to this earlier chapter in any significant or meaningful way.

Consistency
rating:
2

Consistency is affected by having nine contributing writers authoring non-collaborative chapters on their own particular specialism. This leads to the lack of any unifying voice and vision, and some needless repetition in places. There is no guiding framework to speak of.

Modularity
rating:
3

Part II consisting of five chapters on theatrical production and Part III of the book consisting of four chapters on unrelated special topics can be subdivided into separate reading sections – but they would appear to address very differentiated student needs as practical or theoretical specialists

Organization/Structure/Flow
rating:
2

Theatrical Worlds consists of three sections: I Creating a World – Mapping Reality: An Introduction to Theatre, II Theatrical Production, with chapters on Acting, Directing, Set Design, Costume Design, Lighting Design, and III Special Topics, with chapters on Genre, The World of Shakespeare, The American Musical, and World Theatre. ‘Mapping Reality’, which sets out the premise or overview of the book is a rambling digression across definitions of fine art, aesthetics, the ‘qualities’ of theatre, and fails to set out any clear logic or map of the territory the reader is to explore.

Interface
rating:
2

There are no significant problems for interface issues – in fact reading the book, as I did on an Ipad, is a great advertisement for open text books as ease of use is a bonus. The interface though is overly conservative or traditional. The book could benefit from a graphic design artist’s input and reorganization of text and image as well as dynamic website integration with links to supportive images, film and in depth related reading

Grammatical Errors
rating:
2

With nine contributing writers there are grammatical conflicts of style and tone, although no errors as such.
Examples occur however of grammar or word usage unsuited to an academic text- “A famous quote states that…” and ” Chekhov wrote scripts like The Cherry Orchard…”

Cultural Relevance
rating:
3

The book addresses cultural relevance in a uniformly sensitive way and includes attention to divergence and ethnicities. Much of what is best in this respect is concentrated though in the one chapter on World Theatre, and the book could perhaps benefit from being more active in addressing the best of ‘contemporary’ theatre practice in this respect throughout its overall design.

Comments

An accessible open textbook on theatre is a welcome proposition. Theatrical Worlds is however a disappointing work that seems unclear about its target audience or the needs of its potential readers. “The intent of this book is not to strip away the feeling of magic that can happen in the presence of theatre…” state the authors, and yet the book achieves that very thing. This is a matter of tone and style, as well as substance and content, and a consequence of having nine contributing writers authoring non-collaborative chapters on their own particular specialism. This leads to the lack of any unifying voice and vision, and confusion as to what the book’s own guiding concept of theatrical ‘worlds’ is in the first place.
Theatrical Worlds consists of three sections: I Creating a World – Mapping Reality: An Introduction to Theatre, II Theatrical Production, with chapters on Acting, Directing, Set Design, Costume Design, Lighting Design, and III Special Topics, with chapters on Genre, The World of Shakespeare, The American Musical, and World Theatre. ‘Mapping Reality’, which sets out the premise or overview of the book is a rambling digression across definitions of fine art, aesthetics, the ‘qualities’ of theatre, and goes on for some fifteen pages of text before we have any visual image or illustration of interest. Not the best introduction to the power of web interface, or integrated graphics and online texts. The chapter then addresses some of the uses of theatre, with the topics of drama therapy, evangelical agitprop, documentary theatre and case studies of activist theatre practice. At this point there is an interview with Broadway producer Ken Davenport and the chapter concludes with brief observations on the origins of theatre before a longer section on how to read a play, with the over-used plot example of Sophocles’ Oedipus the King as the play in focus. No production images of the play are offered, no images of global or divergent directorial or design interpretations to enliven the text. Theatrical Worlds could benefit from a graphic design artist’s input and reorganization of text and image as well as some dynamic website integration with web links directing readers to supportive images, film and in depth related reading. Given that illusion is the sine qua non of theatre the ‘Mapping Reality’ introduction never really elaborates on the concept of ‘reality’ it proposes – neither does it explore the intriguing metaphor of ‘mapping’ or orientating oneself within the theatre world’s own distinctive collaborative geography.
The five chapters of Part II on theatrical production seem to narrow the target readership down to theatre majors, or students who clearly intend to participate in theatre production either as performers or designers. There is much of interest for such students in these various chapters but aspects of the various writers’ tone, style and subtext are troubling. In an age, for example, that is now enriched by the breakthrough interventions of women directors such as Julie Taymor, Katie Mitchell, Anne Bogart, Deborah Warner, Leigh Silverman, Marianne Elliott, Garry Hynes et al., it jars to read, “Simply put, the director is the “captain” of the collaborative team, responsible for all artistic aspects of the production. He is the person who makes sure that all of the pieces are put together….” (Directing, chapter 3) And, “… is the actor a craftsman or an artist? … you could call the actor an artist because he applies creativity and imagination to this interpretation…” (Acting, chapter 2).

The stand alone special topic chapters of Part III seem to belong to another book altogether. They have a narrative history emphasis and perspective and seem somewhat arbitrary topics to illustrate theatrical worlds – the American musical alongside the World of Shakespeare? Compare, contrast, discuss? Who was Shakespeare? What was Shakespeare? are not inspiring sub-headings and neither is the chapter itself which dwells overlong on the all too familiar historical/biographical narrative. The section that might have been rewarding, Interpreting Shakespeare, is afforded all of three paragraphs. This might have been a cross-cultural and artistic exploration of conceptual and realized performance, a history of Shakespeare as divergent theatrical production, ranging across contemporary practice, the work of the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Peter Brook, Peter Hall, Yukio Ninagawa, Julie Taymor, on directors’ and actors’ visions of Shakespeare on stage, Shakespeare on film, in prisons, in schools, in site specific locations, warehouses, swimming pools, in London’s Globe Theatre, or as the deconstructed viscerally exciting immersive theatre of Britain’s Punchdrunk Theatre). The book’s contributors seem at times overly dry and academic,– as with the opening to the book’s final chapter on world theatre: “When approaching the topic of world theatre, it is necessary to first dispel some popular myths about theatre forms that are outside the traditional Western theatre aesthetic or canon.” The magic really does slip away.
The book is in need of an index and a glossary with key concepts and terms being clearly explained. No scholarly sources, references, footnotes, or works cited are listed. Attention to the relationship between text and image in conveying meaning as well as interest is needed, especially as an online resource. More engagement on the part of the editor with the conceptual unity and intentions of the book as well as the overall balance, focus and originality of content, would help.
Theatrical Worlds aspires to being a supportive, stimulating introductory inroad to the enormously broad field that is theatre study and theatre practice but there are many competitive texts in this field – Theatre: Collaborative Acts, (Wainscott and Fletcher), The World of Theatre: Tradition and Innovation, (Felner and Orenstein), The Theatre Experience, (Edwin Wilson), Theatre: A Way of Seeing, (Milly S. Barranger). Theatrical Worlds does not advance in any discernible way on such books and despite commendable intentions falls short in some significant ways.

Reviewed by Janet Allard, Associate Professor, University of North Carolina at Greensboro on 12/5/16

Theatrical Worlds covers an impressive number of ideas and areas, going into both the methods of individual theatre practitioners and the historical roots of the art of theatre. The beginning chapter of the book also explains the relevance of…
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Reviewed by Janet Allard, Associate Professor, University of North Carolina at Greensboro on 12/5/16

Comprehensiveness
rating:
4
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Theatrical Worlds covers an impressive number of ideas and areas, going into both the methods of individual theatre practitioners and the historical roots of the art of theatre. The beginning chapter of the book also explains the relevance of theatre to someone unfamiliar with theatre, or a young theatre artist at the beginning of study. It asks and elaborates on not only how theatre is made but also, the uses of theatre by posing the compelling question: “why theatre?” The quotes from key artists who have made significant contributions to the field add to the ideas of the book as well as the way the text is laid out or designed. The examples and ideas from all over the world add to the comprehensiveness and allow this book from becoming too American-centric.
Though several significant playwrights are mentioned, the role of the playwright could be further explored and is deserving of its own chapter. Dramaturgs could be mentioned as well. The mention of Directors as Auteurs is a good addition, though it is important to note that contemporary plays in copyright cannot be altered by Directors. There is no index or glossary but the table of contents seems sufficient as much of the contents of the chapters is about defining theatrical terms in an in-depth way.

Content Accuracy
rating:
5

The book accurately describes each element that makes up a theatrical collaboration as well as historical figures and events.

Relevance/Longevity
rating:
5

The content is relevant and takes into account recent theatrical productions as well as historical ones. There are always new examples and new plays, musicals, and technologies that will need to be incorporated. Already, the Musical Theatre section feels as if it’s missing something for not mentioning the ground swell caused by the musical “Hamilton”, which is not a fault of the book but simply speaks to the need for periodic updates. Sometimes the book refers to “recent productions” or specific software and technological equipment for designers and technicians. This makes the book very relevant, and longevity is easy to accomplish with periodic updates. Updates should be relatively easy to implement under the chapter headings and sections defined in the book.

Clarity
rating:
5

The text is written in a compelling yet accessible way. Various authors are at work here and that becomes a strength of the book by adding to its variety. The jargon and technical terminology is clearly defined and easy to read and digest.

Consistency
rating:
5

The book consistently uses both historical and contemporary ways of exploring the ideas and methods of each section. Each chapter consistently defines terms and identifies significant theatre practitioners.

Modularity
rating:
5

The way the book is divided easy allows a professor to assign particular sections at different points within the course. It would also be possible to assign a single section for an introductory course on one of the topics – for example, the lighting design section for an introductory lighting design class, making elements of this textbook useful to more specialized courses.

Organization/Structure/Flow
rating:
5

The topics flow well and are presented in a logical, clear fashion. The last chapter “Special Topics” becomes a sort of “catch all” for topics the authors wanted to explore further: Genre, Shakespeare, The American Musical and World Theatre. It is hard to determine why those four subjects and not others, yet, each of those subjects is worth mentioning and the chapters hold interest.

Interface
rating:
4

The images were clear, well presented and added to the experience of reading the text. The bookmark icon to the right of the pdf screen allows the reader to navigate easily between chapters. There doesn’t seem to be a way the user can add a bookmark, highlight text, or take notes. Those elements would be useful if technically available.

Grammatical Errors
rating:
5

The text contains no grammatical errors.

Cultural Relevance
rating:
5

The text is culturally inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities and backgrounds. The section on World Theatre includes theatre that though authentic to its origins, continues to evolve, dispelling the notion that world theatre is “static” or mired in past traditions. There are both traditional/historic and contemporary examples of theatre in India, Japan, China, The Middle East, West Africa, South Africa and Latin America.

Comments

This book seems best suited for non-theatre majors or those very new to the aspects of a theatrical production. The breadth involved allows this text to be useful to an introductory course – introducing students to the world of theatre. Many terms are defined and roles explained that those who have worked in and around the theatre will already be familiar with, but which would be illuminating for a newcomer to the field. That said, there are certain chapters, sections, or interviews in this book that could be pulled into a theatre history class or more specialized courses.

Reviewed by Brian Haimbach, Lead Theatre Faculty, Lane Community College on 1/7/16

The comprehensiveness of the textbook is admirable. Given the daunting task of covering all aspects of theatre, the book attempts to cover an impressive range of topics. Conspicuously absent are the dedicated Theatre History chapters that consume…
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Reviewed by Brian Haimbach, Lead Theatre Faculty, Lane Community College on 1/7/16

Comprehensiveness
rating:
4
see less

The comprehensiveness of the textbook is admirable. Given the daunting task of covering all aspects of theatre, the book attempts to cover an impressive range of topics. Conspicuously absent are the dedicated Theatre History chapters that consume half of most published texts marketed to Theatre Appreciation classes. However, this text’s attempts to ground information in a historical context are largely successful. At times the history seems a bit too hefty. The text’s consistent historical approach can sometimes leave little room for practical information, particularly in the Acting chapter. Also conspicuously absent, but less understandably so, is a chapter on playwriting. The text’s attempts at comprehensiveness fall short only due to this exclusion and the exclusion of an index and/or glossary. The first chapter’s introduction to theatre includes subject matter that might not be included in older Introduction to Theatre texts, but is not only relevant but necessary for an understanding of contemporary practice. The Special Topics section is appealing. Every theatre instructor and/or practitioner will surely ask why these subjects (Genre, Shakespeare, Musicals, and World Theatre) as opposed to other pet topics. But this portion of the book is a healthy augmentation to the prior chapters. For those who find the prominence of Shakespeare in theatre academia problematic, the number of pages dedicated to the Bard will likely seem out of place. Considering the breadth of topics, depth must be sacrificed. The in-depth description of lighting instruments feels out of place as compared to the brief treatment the text offers almost all other material. One might be tempted to describe the depth as cursory, but considering the length of the text is similar to other books of the same subject and the exclusion of chapters focusing solely on history, the text discusses each topic to a satisfactory extent. The book is an introduction to ideas which will hopefully provoke students to investigate further and allow instructors to flesh out the material in class. Overall, the content provides an entrée to as many aspects of a very complicated and multifaceted art form as can be expected from one book.

Content Accuracy
rating:
5

The text is accurate and error-free. Almost every chapter is written by a different author, which goes far to avoid a biased perspective.

Relevance/Longevity
rating:
4

Updates to the text will be easy to implement. Some references will soon be outdated, but the basic content will not require an update in the near future.

Clarity
rating:
5

The writing style is very appropriate for the undergraduate level. Esoteric references are almost always explained satisfactorily.

Consistency
rating:
5

Considering the number of authors that contribute to the text, the consistency of terminology is decidedly strong. Each chapter has a unique perspective, but the cohesiveness of the text does not suffer.

Modularity
rating:
5

The modularity of the text is its strongest feature. One could easily use different chapters in many different classes. Each chapter is a self-contained discussion of a single subject that can be used in a variety of ways.

Organization/Structure/Flow
rating:
4

Due to the modularity of the text, the structure seems to jump from one topic to the next without any attempts to transition smoothly. The inclusion of a subsection on sound design in the set design chapter is one example of how some subsections feel wedged into place. However, this structural characteristic does not detract from the overall effectiveness of the text.

Interface
rating:
4

The downloadable PDF format maintains images and text beautifully. The inability to bookmark and the lack of internal links in the PDF and online versions proves frustrating at times.

Grammatical Errors
rating:
5

The grammar is correct.

Cultural Relevance
rating:
4

The text is obviously mostly about contemporary Western theatre practice, particularly commercial theatre of North America. The chapter on World Theatre includes information that many texts on this subject would likely not include, which is admirable. Considering the approach to theatre, the text does not contain any offensive or insensitive material.

Comments

Theatrical Worlds is a practical and effective option for Introduction to Theatre and Theatre Appreciation classes. Although it may not be the choice for an instructor taking a decidedly Performance Studies approach, the breadth of information offered provides a solid launching point from which to shape a course for instructors of a variety of interests.

Table of Contents

Part One: Creating a World

  • 1 Mapping Reality: An Introduction to Theatre -Charlie Mitchell and Michelle Hayford

Part Two: Theatrical Production

  • 2 Acting – Charlie Mitchell
  • 3 Directing – Kevin Browne
  • 4 Set Design – Mark E. Mallett
  • 5 Costume Design – Stacey Galloway
  • 6 Lighting Design – Kasendra Djuren

Part Three: Special Topics

  • 7 Genre – Jim Davis
  • 8 The World of Shakespeare – Jeremy Fiebig
  • 9 The American Musical – Margaret R. Butler
  • 10 World Theatre – Michelle Hayford

About the Book

From the University of Florida College of Fine Arts, Charlie Mitchell and distinguished colleagues from across America present an introductory text for theatre and theoretical production. This book seeks to give insight into the people and processes that create theater. It does not strip away the feeling of magic but to add wonder for the artistry that make a production work well.

About the Contributors

Editor

Charlie Mitchell studied playwriting at Boston University with Nobel prize-winning author Derek Walcott. After earning a PhD from the University of Colorado, he was a production dramaturg for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival and later for Playmakers Repertory, where he was a visiting professor at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. For three years, he was an artistic associate and company member of the award-winning Chesapeake Shakespeare Company and has worked as an actor for a variety of theatres in New York City, Chicago, and Baltimore. Previously, he taught at Loyola University in Maryland. He completed his BFA actor training at Ithaca College.

Dr. Mitchell is the author of Shakespeare and Public Execution, an examination of how Shakespeare utilized commonly known tropes of execution for his own dramaturgical ends and the co-editor of Zora Neale Hurston: Collected Plays, the first compilation of the Harlem Renaissance writer’s dramatic pieces including two thought to be lost. Theatrical Worlds is the first open source introductory theatre textbook.

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