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 2, 1993

ISBN: 0-02-511155-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1993

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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