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  • More Books
  • Sebastián Calderón Bentin
Reality Principles: From the Absurd to the Virtual. By Herbert Blau. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2011; 300 pp. $85.00 cloth, $35.00 paper, e-book available.

Herbert Blau's latest work, Reality Principles: From the Absurd to the Virtual, brings together essays written at the turn of the millennium on topics ranging from Strindberg to virtuality. The collection has an autobiographical accent, implicitly weaving together an ontology of theatre through Blau's experiences as scholar, director, teacher, and university administrator. Among the 20 essays, some address specific historical events, such as the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in "Art and Crisis: Homeland Security and the Noble Savage," or the 2007 controversy over Dario Fo's The Pope and the Witch at the University of Minnesota in "Blessings to The Pope and the Witch." Other essays expand on Blau's earlier theoretical projects by addressing the work of Samuel Beckett, directing and acting, the role of the audience and the notion of community, and the question of liveness and the relationship between theatre and history. Broad in scope, this collection is a rich contribution to the field and offers a fresh look at the work of one of the most well-known scholars in theatre and performance studies. [End Page 213]

How to Do Shakespeare. By Adrian Noble. London: Routledge, 2010; 262 pp. $115.00 cloth, $30.95 paper.

Written by the former artistic director and chief executive of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Adrian Noble's How to Do Shakespeare is a practical handbook for actors and directors of all backgrounds interested in Shakespeare's work. Noble emphasizes the productive tension between Shakespeare's "outside-in" approach to acting versus Stanislavsky's "inside-out" methodology, and also highlights the importance of language and hearing when working with Shakespeare. The author begins with a historical overview of Shakespeare's writings and then devotes seven chapters to key practical aspects of Shakespearean language: apposition; metaphor; metre and pulse; line endings; word play; vocabulary; and shape and structure. Each chapter offers examples from various plays as well as techniques that help elucidate and prop up these different aspects. The chapters in the second half of the book situate Shakespeare's language in a broader context by considering the way it functions in prose, soliloquies, dialogues, comedies, and tragedies as well as the development of character as part of the actor's craft. Noble's book will prove very useful to theatre practitioners of all levels as a hands-on approach written by an experienced director who has worked extensively across Shakespeare's oeuvre.

The Philosophical Actor: A Practical Meditation for Practicing Theatre Artists. By Donna Soto-Morettini. London: Intellect Ltd., 2010; 224 pp. $30.00 paper.

Drawing on her experiences as Head of Acting at the Central School of Speech and Drama and the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, among other institutions, Donna Soto-Morettini's The Philosophical Actor addresses the gap between the actor's work and the broader philosophical questions that such work invokes. Anchored by a vast set of experiences in conservatories and acting studios, Soto-Morettini seeks to update acting theory by incorporating the latest research in cognitive science and psychology while questioning the traditional language of actor training. The book comprises five chapters, which each turns on a particular question: "Am I ACTING?," "What Was I Thinking?," "How Am I Feeling?," "What Were YOU Thinking?" and "And Where Am I?" The first two chapters follow an established philosophical trajectory, while the last three begin incorporating more recent research from the sciences. More than an acting handbook, Soto-Morettini is really concerned with what acting is, both practically and philosophically. This book will be a strong contribution to scholars interested in acting theory, actor training, cognitive science, and theatre psychology as well as professional theatre practitioners and students.

Performance, Technology, and Science. By Johannes Birringer. New York: PAJ Publications, 2008; 332 pp. $24.95 paper.

Performance, Technology, and Science is a detailed study of human-machine interfaces within the performing arts, combining a historical analysis of new performance technologies and artistic case studies. Birringer is concerned with digital performance and...


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