Authenticity and a passion for the subject remain the hallmarks of this well-designed, intimate look at theaters and...

BEFORE THE CURTAIN GOES UP

A theater lover chronicles actors’ backstage lives.

For her new book, Blake (Captured, 2014) took her camera to six small-town community and professional theaters in New England, Pennsylvania, and Florida. She documented what John Shea, artistic director emeritus of the Theatre Workshop of Nantucket, describes in the foreword as “the critical and intimate moments of transformation when the actor gives birth to the character.” The author’s fascination with this “metamorphosis” that actors undergo to become a conduit for the stories they will present on stage is clear in her casually evocative color photographs. More than 60 in number, crisply framed by white space, they draw the eye with their slice-of-life scenes of actors—male and female, older and younger—getting into costume, applying a mustache, straightening a wig, brushing on makeup, taking a coffee break, sharing a laugh, or running lines. Accompanying many of the photos are well-curated quotes by actors who speak of their roles and give considered, often ardent thoughts about what being involved with the theater has meant to them. Accessible to a wide range of readers, smartly designed with a deft balance of text and pictures, the volume spotlights each theater with its own section, introduced by Blake’s lively narrative relating the origins of the institution’s founding, a brief history of the productions staged there, and an insider’s anecdote or two. Other photos in the book show theater exteriors and backstage environments (a shelf of jumbled props, utilitarian dressing rooms, makeup tools, costumes) when the players are absent. The author adds further interest and visual appeal with informational tidbits about each theater in framed boxes integrated into the photographic layout. These well-preserved moments are informed not only by Blake’s skill with a camera, but also by her past as part of the theatrical community, a pursuit, she writes in her eloquent preface, kindled by her own early experiences as an audience member.

Authenticity and a passion for the subject remain the hallmarks of this well-designed, intimate look at theaters and performers through a camera lens.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: IB Publications

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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