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The Playwright's Guidebook

The Playwright's Guidebook
Your Price: $24.95 CDN
Author: Stuart Spencer
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 400
Pub. Date: 2002
ISBN-10: 0571199917
ISBN-13: 9780571199914

About the Book:

The Playwright's Guidebook is a clear, concise, and engaging handbook, which Edward Albee described as "indispensable".

Having taught playwriting for ten years, Stuart Spencer struggled to find an effective playwriting handbook for his courses. Although most of the currently popular handbooks have good ideas in them, they all suffer from the same problems: they're poorly organized; are composed mostly of quirky, idiosyncratic advice on how specific playwrights have gone about writing their own work; and are full of abstract theorizing on the nature of art. As a result, they fail to offer any concrete information on how to construct a well-written play or any useful guidelines and exercises. Moreover, few of these books are actually written by working playwrights. Out of frustration, American playwright and teacher Stuart Spencer wrote his own book. The result, The Playwright's Guidebook, which addresses the important principles of structure, includes insightful writing exercises that build upon one another, explores the creative process, and troubleshoots recurrent problems that playwrights actually face. As with any discipline, the geniuses are the ones who break or rewrite the rules, but it helps to have some to rebel against in the first place, and with 16 chapters, there's plenty to get your teeth into.

What people say:

"Stuart Spencer's The Playwright's Guidebook is indispensable. Clearly and thoroughly, Mr. Spencer – a playwright himself – leads all playwrights (not only the beginner) through the travails of creation and the jungle of production. He is to be congratulated." — Edward Albee

"If you want to be a playwright, here's your bible." — David Lindsay-Abaire, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright

"Stuart Spencer's meticulous handbook does something I had thought was almost impossible: it describes, clarifies and analyzes the mysterious process of building a play. And moreover, he does so with the grace and respect of a first-rate teacher for the intelligence and potential of his students. There is no ideology, no formula for instant success here. Just the distilled experience of a real practitioner generous enough to share, and reliable enough to be trusted." — Jon Robin Baitz, playwright, screenwriter and television producer

"It's taken for granted that actors need teaching (hence drama schools), but playwrights could do with some handy hints, too. Perhaps the single most helpful advice in this guide is that writers need to be aware that a script needs many, and often radical rewrites. Actors take weeks of performances to get their performances honed: writers should not regard their first draft as a sacred text." — Playbill

"Eureka! A clearly written, well-structured, intelligent how-to book about playwrighting. Like the good teacher and good writer that he is, Stuart Spencer guides rather than browbeats. Should be next to the laptop of any aspiring, or working, playwright." — Warren Leight, playwright, screenwriter and television producer

"At last! A straight-from-the-shoulder approach to playwrighting that finally blows the dust off much of the mystique surrounding this craft. Stuart Spencer writes with wit, insight, clarity, brilliant first-hand knowledge, and yes, finally, offers genuine help! Refreshing and beautifully organized, this book is long overdue." — Jack O'Brien, Artistic Director Emeritus, The Globe Theatres, San Diego

About the Author:

Stuart Spencer teaches playwriting, dramaturgy, dramatic literature, and theatre history at Sarah Lawrence College. In the past he has taught at New York University, Playwrights Horizons Theatre School, The New School for Social Research, SUNY/Purchase, the Ensemble Studio Theatre Institute for Professional Training, and The Young Playwrights Festival program, which brings the art of playwriting into New York’s inner city schools. He is the author of numerous plays performed in New York and around the US.