Scriptwork: A Director's Approach to New Play Development

Scriptwork: A Director's Approach to New Play Development

Scriptwork: A Director's Approach to New Play Development

Scriptwork: A Director's Approach to New Play Development


Despite the popular myth that plays arrive at the theatre fully formed and ready for production, the truth is that for centuries, most scripts have been developed through a collaborative process in rehearsal and in concert with other theatre artists. David Kahn and Donna Breed provide the first codified approach to this time-honored method of play development, with a flexible methodology that takes into account differing environments and various stages of formation. Directors can use this unique guidebook for new play development from the beginning to the end of the process. Kahn and Breed explore ways of choosing new projects, talk about where to find new scripts, and explore the legal aspects of script development. They present a detailed system for theatrical analysis of the new script and show how to continue exploration and development of the script within the laboratory of the theatre. Most importantly, they delineate the parameters of the relationship between the director and the playwright, offering,proven methods to help the playwright and to facilitate the healthy development of the script. Kahn and Breed offer suggestions on casting, incorporating rewrites, and script handling plus how and when to use audience response and how to decide what step to take next. They also include extended interviews with developmental directors, dramaturgs, and playwrights, who give credence to the new script development process.


This is a book about hard work. We who like to say we are involved in the art of the theatre also know we are in the entertainment business. (Like Kenneth Tynan I do not consider entertainment only the act of sitting in the path of a herd of stampeding elephants.) We work hard years to make what we do look effortless. This book tells you how we work.

Stanislavski (an actor before he was a director) formed the Moscow Art Theatre from pragmatism. There were a number of actors in the company with extraordinary talent. He asked them go analyze, probably for the first time, exactly what they did: how they approached a role, what they were experiencing on stage, in rehearsal, in reading a script. He reasoned that the journeyman actor and the tyro could improve if they knew the process of acting. From what he learned be devised basic exercises to facilitate the company's work habits. For all the mysticism that surrounds his teaching, really, it was as simple as that--and as difficult.

I don't know why it has taken another hundred years for someone to realize that the art of direction, or understanding how to work on 'a new play, the process of play development, could benefit from the same approach. But I am certainly thankful that someone finally has.

Actors, writers, producers, designers, probably even audiences, can learn as much from this book as the neophyte director, or the bad director, or the good classical director who is working on developing a new play for the first time.

This book may well serve to discourage most would-be di-

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