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If theatre were a religion, explains David Mamet in his opening chapter, ‘many of the observations and suggestions in this book might be heretical’. As always, Mamet delivers on his promise: in Theatre, the acclaimed author of Glengarry Glen Ross and Speed the Plow, calls for nothing less than the death of the director and the end of acting theory. For Mamet, actors are either good or they are non-actors, and good actors generally work best without the interference of a director, however well-intentioned. Issue plays, political correctness, method actors, impossible directions, Stanislavksy, and elitists all fall under Mamet’s critical gaze. To students, teacher, and directors, who crave a blast of fresh air in a world that can be insular and fearful of change, Theatre throws down a gauntlet that challenges everyone to do better, including Mamet himself.
From iconic and idiosyncratic director and playwright David Mamet, a mischievous manifesto designed to defrock the high priests and challenge the holy bibles of the theatre world.
He hits the mark when he attacks the self-absorbed acting that the Strasbergs and their cultish disciples passed off as deep and true ... Mamet's back-to-basics approach can be a refreshing corrective to theatrical grandiosity ... There is no way anyone should give up on Mamet the genius playwright.
This provocative new book, in which Mamet distils his thoughts about the theatre in which he has worked for 40 years ... The book is a blunderbuss blast against pretentious directors, showy designers and actors who agonise over motivation and their characters' back-stories ... Mamet's firm views strike me as a bracing and necessary corrective.
Such forceful rhetoric makes for a great read, as repeatedly Mamet shoots down accepted norms in flames ... unlike so many theorists, this man can write. Even if you disagree with some or all of his strongly expressed opinions, the ways in which he conveys them are frequently colourful and always challenging ... he does, however, write beautifully and bravely enters into debates that the more squeamish or cowardly would shy away from ... for anyone wanting to get a lively, fresh perspective on the stage and what it means today, this short, sharp little volume is well worth a look.
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