About the Book:
Elia Kazan was the mid-twentieth century's most celebrated director of both stage and screen, and Kazan on Directing shows us the master at work.
Elia Kazan directed virtually back to back the greatest American dramas of the era — by Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams — and revolutionized theatre and film with dynamic action, poetic staging, and rigorous naturalism. His list of Broadway and Hollywood successes — A Streetcar Named Desire, Death of a Salesman, On the Waterfront, to name only a few — is a testament to his profound impact on the art of directing. Kazan’s insights into these and other classic stage works shaped their subsequent productions—and continue to do so. There is no directorial achievement in America equal to his.
Kazan on Directing is remarkable book, drawn from his notebooks, letters, interviews, and autobiography, reveals Elia Kazan's method: how he uncovered the spine, or core of each script and each character; how he analyzed each piece in terms of his own experience; how he determined the specifics of his production, from casting and costuming to set design and cinematography. And we see how he worked with writers on scripts and with actors on interpretation.
The final section, "The Pleasures of Directing" — essays Kazan was writing in his last decade — is informal, provocative, candid, and passionate; a wise old pro sharing the secrets of his craft, advising us how to search for ourselves in each project, how to fight the system, and how to have fun doing it.
This monumental, revelatory book, edited by Robert Cornfield, is essential reading for everyone interested in American movies and theatre.
What people say:
"To read this book is to sit with Kazan as he talks about his work. You feel his energy, devotion, and openness. You are given rare and fascinating access to the insights and techniques of a great director." — Sidney Lumet
"Kazan stands alone in his work both on stage and screen. This book provides an excellent opportunity to deepen our understanding of Kazan's achievements." — Alec Baldwin
"A fascinating account of how a master director works. ... It is also, quite simply, a good read." — The New Criterion
"A wonderfully conflicted yet curiously confident self-portrait of a great director." — Los Angeles Times
"Unusually entertaining . . . It's not just his insights, it's the incisive way he expresses them." — New York Observer
"This is Kazan the professional speaking, a giant of the Method spilling his secrets. ... An indispensable resource for anyone hoping to understand the direction of actors and the differences between stage and screen. ... Revelatory and instructive." — Directors Guild of America Quarterly
"Kazan on Directing displays Kazan's interpretive genius at work, analyzing each major play and movie, working with writers on scripts and actors on interpretations. ... Invaluable." — The Providence Journal
"[Kazan] may be the most influential director of his time after Hitchcock. ... If only every living American director would read this." — The Buffalo News
"Elia Kazan possessed a treasure trove of knowledge about acting and storytelling. What a gift it is to have his ideas between covers in Kazan on Directing — a wonderful compilation of Kazan's shrewd insights and vast experience." — George Stevens, Jr.
"Kazan has been called the greatest actor's director. In this illuminating book he details his methods. A must-read for everyone in show business." — Carroll Baker
"[This] riveting book is Kazan talking to us—pushing us, lifting us, motivating us. Every student of stage and film should read it." — Karl Malden
"[Kazan's] experience as an actor in the Group Theatre helped train him to become one of the greatest directors of actors in the twentieth century. This amazing book demonstrates his rich understanding of the actor as an artist." — Ellen Adler, Stella Adler Studio of Acting
"Astounding. ... I have never, ever read anything as clear and personal and detailed (not to mention well-written) as this book. ... I devoured it." — André Bishop, Artistic Director, Lincoln Center Theater
About the Author:
Elia Kazan (1909 - 2003), the immigrant child of a Greek rug merchant who became one of the most honoured and influential directors in Broadway and Hollywood history, was born in Istanbul. He graduated from Williams College and attended the Yale School of Drama before joining The Group Theatre. He was the founder of the Actors Studio, and he won three Tony Awards for direction (for All My Sons, Death of a Salesman, and J.B.) and two Academy Awards (for Gentleman's Agreement and On the Waterfront), as well as an honorary Oscar in 1999 for lifetime achievement.