In the description of this book it says that this is an introduction to the world of theater and I think this is important to note because this really is written for the novice – the absolute beginner. While the description of the book (on Goodreads and Amazon) say that this is perfect for college students in theater programs, I would disagree. The bulk of the information here is so very basic that anyone in a college theater program should already have much of this knowledge.
However, I do think this is a great resource for high school students interested in pursuing theater in college, and also for college students taking an introduction to theater class. Although it has been a few years, I have taught Introduction to Theater at a local college, and I do lead workshops, in various theatre skills, for high school students and there is some information here that I will draw from.
I like the comprehensiveness of this book. It touches on nearly all the roles in the theater (“nearly” because it doesn’t address any of the front of house services – which is not unusual, but if you are going to the trouble of putting on a play, don’t you want people to be able to buy a ticket to see it?), but of course any time you cover a lot of different aspects of a craft you’re limited to broad strokes as opposed to details.
I also really like the worksheets or ‘to-do’ lists at the end of each chapter. This is where the interested student can grow in their knowledge and practical skills in theatre and it here that I will likely find some things that I might use in my workshops.
Author Lisa Mulcahy also includes a number brief (brief) interviews with theatre professionals. I found these to be mostly a waste of time. I understand that it’s nice for a youngster to hear words of wisdom from professionals, but these snippets are so brief that we don’t really get anything from them. In my opinion, this space could have beet better used for a little more depth in the various roles in the theatre.
The suggested reading/viewing lists (I love that Mulcahy suggests viewing theatre!) are really good and it’s nice to see some suggested plays and musicals that speak to students of this generation rather than a list of nothing but ‘classics’.
Looking for a good book? If you want a very basic book about all aspects of theatre production, targeted to the real novice, Lisa Mulcahy’s The Essentials of Theater is definitely worth considering.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.
* * * * * *
The Essentials of Theater
author: Lisa Mulcahy
hardcover, 256 pages