Theatre Brief

  • ISBN13:


  • ISBN10:


  • Edition: 9th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2010-06-23
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages
  • View Upgraded Edition

Note: Supplemental materials are not guaranteed with Rental or Used book purchases.

Purchase Benefits

  • Free Shipping On Orders Over $59!
    Your order must be $59 or more to qualify for free economy shipping. Bulk sales, PO's, Marketplace items, eBooks and apparel do not qualify for this offer.
  • Get Rewarded for Ordering Your Textbooks! Enroll Now
List Price: $168.41 Save up to $148.76
  • Rent Book $19.65
    Add to Cart Free Shipping


Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?

  • The Used and Rental copies of this book are not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included. This is true even if the title states it includes any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.


This lively introduction to theatre offers equal measures of appreciation of theatrical arts and descriptions of the collaborative theatrical crafts. The author's enthusiasm for and knowledge of the current theatre, highlighted by contemporary production shots from around the world, put the students in the front row.

Author Biography

ROBERT COHEN was the founding chair Drama at the University of California at Irvine, where he continues to serve as the department’s Claire Trevor Professor of Drama. He has also been a resident acting teacher at the Actors Center in New York, the Shanghai Theatre Academy, the Korean National Arts University, and the national theatre academies of Hungary, Finland, and Estonia. He is an accomplished stage director, scholar, playwright, drama critic, and teacher. A director by training (Doctor of Fine Arts, Yale Drama School), Cohen has staged thirteen professional productions at the Utah and Colorado Shakespeare Festivals, plus well over a hundred productions at Stages Theatre Center (Hollywood), Virginia Museum Theatre (Richmond), Theatre 40 (Beverly Hills), Image Theatre (Boston), Summer Repertory Theatre (Santa Rosa), the Medieval Drama Project (Irvine), the Manhattan Theatre Source, various universities, and several operas, videos and films. In addition to Theatre and Theatre: Brief Edition, he is also the author of many theatre books, including Acting One, Advanced Acting, Acting in Shakespeare, Acting Professionally, Acting Power, More Power to You, Giraudoux: Three Faces of Destiny, Creative Play Direction, and two dramatic anthologies. His essays have appeared in Theatre Journal, Theatre Topics, Theatre Forum, Theatre Survey, Modern Drama, Theater der Zeit, Essays in Theatre, On Stage Studies, The Drama Review, Contemporary Literature, Contemporary Literary Criticism, Slavic and East European Performance, Experiment and Innovation, and Dramatic Theory and Criticism. Cohen’s play, The Prince, published by Dramatic Publishing Company, has been professionally produced in Long Beach, Pittsburgh, Budapest, and in staged readings in New York and Los Angeles; his dramatic translations (The Bourgeois Gentleman, The Misanthrope, Clizia, Tibi’s Law) and opera translations (The Magic Flute, Carmen) have been both produced and published widely. For the past twenty years, Cohen has been the Southern California drama critic for Plays International, reviewing over two hundred plays. In 1999, he received the national Career Achievement award from ATHE - the Association for Theatre in Higher Education.

Table of Contents



Chapter 1: What Is the Theatre?

The Theatre Building

The Company, or Troupe, of Players

The Occupation of Theatre

Live Performance
Scripted and Rehearsed Performance

Chapter 2: What Is a Play?

Classifying Plays



Comedy and Other Genres

Dramaturgy: The Construction of Drama and Dramatic Performance

Drama’s Components: The Vertical Axis
Drama’s Timeline: The Horizontal Axis

Non-Aristotelian Theatre Events

Chapter 3: The Playwright

We Are All Playwrights

Literary and Nonliterary Aspects of Playwrighting

Playwrighting as Event Writing

The Qualities of a Fine Play

Credibility and Intrigue
Speakability, Stageability, and Flow
Depth of Characterization
Gravity and Pertinence
Compression, Economy, and Intensity

The Playwright's Process


The Playwright's Rewards

A Sampling of Current American Playwrights

David Mamet
Tony Kushner
David Henry Hwang
Neil LaBute
Lynn Nottage

Photo Essay: Playwright Neil LaBute

Chapter 4: The Actor

What Is Acting?

The Paradox of Acting - from Socrates to Stanislavsky
Acting Today
Acting from the Inside: The Stanislavsky Legacy
Emotion Memory
Acting from the Outside
The Actor as Virtuoso
Putting It Together

Becoming an Actor

The Approach
The Actor's Instrument
Voice and Speech
The Psychological Instrument

Photo Essay: Actor Patrick Stewart


The Actor's Routine


The Actor in Life

Chapter 5: The Director

The Arrival of the Director: A Historical Overview

Realistic Directors
Stylizing Directors
The Contemporary Director

Photo Essay: Director Susan Stroman

Director and Producer
Vision and Leadership
Play Selection
Designer Selection
Director-Designer Collaboration

Photo Essay: The School for Wives


The Training of a Director

Chapter 6: Designers and Technicians

The Design Process

What Design Does


Scenic Materials
The Scene Designer at Work

Photo Essay: Scene Designer Tony Walton

The Scene Designer at Work


Modern Lighting Design
The Lighting Designer at Work

Photo Essay: Lighting Designer Don Holder

The Functions of Costume
The Costume Designer at Work

Photo Essay: Costume Designer Catherine Zuber

Sound Design

Photo Essay: Sound Designer Scott Lehrer

Projection Design
Special Effects
Digital Technologies in Theatre Design
The Technical Production Team

Photo Essay: Stage Manager Michael McGoff

Chapter 7: Theatre Traditions: East and West

The Origins of Theatre

Shamanism, Trance, and Magic
The Beginnings of Traditional Drama
Traditional Drama in Sub-Saharan Africa
Egyptian Drama

Theatre in the West

Greek Drama
Roman Drama
Medieval Drama
Renaissance Drama
The Royal Theatre
The Romantic Theatre

Theatre in the East

Indian Sanskrit Drama
Indian Kathakali
Chinese Xiqu
Japanese Nō
Japanese Kabuki

The Theatrical Tradition Today: East and West

Chapter 8: The Modern Theatre

Realism A Laboratory Pioneers of Realism Naturalism


The Symbolist Rebellion
The Era of "Isms"
Stylized Theatre
The French Avant-Garde: Ubu Roi
Intellectual Comedy: Man and Superman
Expressionism: The Hairy Ape
Metatheatre: Six Characters in Search of an Author
Theatre of Cruelty: Jet of Blood
Philosophical Melodrama: No Exit
Theatre of the Absurd: Waiting for Godot
Theatre of Alienation: The Good Person of Szechuan
Comedy of Contemporary Manners: Bedroom Farce
Political Satire: Serious Money

Chapter 9: The Musical Theatre

The Role of Music in Theatre History

The Development of the Broadway Musical: America's Contribution

Musical Comedy: Gershwin, Kern, Darktown Follies, and Rodgers and Hart
A Golden Age

The Contemporary Musical

The Emergence of Choreographer-Directors
Stephen Sondheim
Black Musicals
Foreign Invasions: British, French, Swedish, and Disney
Musicals of the Twenty-first Century

Chapter 10: Theatre Today

What's Happening?

A Theatre of Postmodern Experiment
A Nonlinear Theatre
An Open Theatre
A Diverse Theatre

Photo Essay: Theatre in the Borderlands

A Global Theatre
A Macaronic Theatre
A Theatre of Difference
A Theatre of Nontraditional Casting
Spectacular Theatre
Verbatim Theatre
A Dangerous Theatre
A Theatre of Community
Movement Art and Dance-Theatre
Solo Performance

Three Theatre-Makers in the Theatre Today

Peter Brook
Robert Wilson
Julie Taymor

Theatre Today: Where Can You Find It?

New York City
Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway
Regional American Theatre: Not for Profit
Los Angeles
Washington, D.C.
Shakespeare Festivals
Summer and Dinner Theatres
Amateur Theatre: Academic and Community
International Theatre
Beyond North America

Conclusions about Theatre Today?

Chapter 11: The Critic and the Dramaturg

Critical and Dramaturgical Perspectives

Social Significance
Human Significance
Artistic Quality
Relationship to the Theatre Itself
Entertainment Value

Critical and Dramaturgical Focus

Professional Criticism
Professional Dramaturgy
Student Criticism and Dramaturgy

We Are the Critics


Selected Bibliography



Rewards Program

Write a Review