THE MAGIC OF THEATER by David Black

THE MAGIC OF THEATER

Behind the Scenes

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Drawing on his two-year series of public interviews with top thespians conducted at N.Y.C.'s New School, Tony Award-winning producer Black conveys the work behind theater's ``magic''--the motivation and training of actors, the mechanics of production, and the essential role of the audience. While Black devotes separate chapters to Tony Randall, Eli Wallach, and Liv Ullman, the rest of his text features that special chemistry of intelligent pairing that characterized his interview- series. Subjects include, among others, Joel Grey and Julie Harris; Christopher Reeve and Elizabeth Franz; William Hurt and Lois Smith; Madeline Kahn and Christopher Walken; Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy; Frank Langella and Judith Ivey; and Zoâ Caldwell and Colleen Dewhurst, whose death during the writing of the book inspired an epilogue emphasizing acting as a collaboration between the actor and the audience--which is an implied presence in the interviews themselves. While the topic of Black's series was how actors convince audiences that they are other than themselves (i.e., the nature of theatrical illusion), the discussions here--which interweave Black's personal narrative with his subjects' dialogue and some Q&A--reveal how actors are motivated to become professional; how they train; how they prepare for a part; how they feel about themselves, their audiences, and their fellow actors; and what they think about more philosophical issues, such as the relative merits of talent, technique, training, and teaching. Each discussion is exceptionally articulate and interesting, and Black, representing the audience, conveys winningly how important it is for audiences to believe in the uses of illusion. An insightful psychology of actors and audiences that offers inspiration for young actors and an absorbing read for those who love the theater. (Thirty-four photographs)

Pub Date: June 2nd, 1993
ISBN: 0-02-511155-8
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1993




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