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Backwards & Forwards: A Technical Manual for…
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Backwards & Forwards: A Technical Manual for Reading Plays

by David Ball

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The author explores an interesting method of reading plays - start from the back, find the action, then work forward. As you move, you will understand the action of the play better. There is a lot of good stuff in the book, especially his deconstruction of Hamlet, but it suffers from an insufferably self-important tone, and his habit of letting us know that every expert out there is wrong and he is right set all my critical thinking sensors going off at once, since that is a key characteristic of a crackpot. That said, if you can read for the meat and not the self-aggrandizing pontificating, you can get something out of this book. At the very least, you might get a better understanding of King Lear - and that's nothing to sneeze at. ( )
  quantum_flapdoodle | Mar 21, 2013 |
As an actor, reader of plays, and director, I found this to be a really nifty and useful book. It's short, and a really fast, enjoyable read, but it packs a lot in there. There are things you wouldn't really think about concerning plays that he brings up, and things that you really ought to but maybe don't. I'm definitely considering using this manual as a handbook for anything I'm going to act in or direct, and go through some of what seemed to me to be the best advice. He uses fun examples and focuses on Hamlet, a text that everyone is (or should be) familiar with, so it's easy to follow along.

I particularly liked anything he said addressing characters. For instance, people have a reason for voicing outloud anything that they say. So what is the reason why your character chooses to say this particular thing out loud?

I could also see this book being useful for playwrights, and would recommend it for anyone involved in any aspect of the theatre, or anyone taking a theatre class or studying plays. ( )
  beckykolacki | Oct 2, 2010 |
This was a very interesting take on play analysis. He held my interest, which I think he deserves credit for, yet he was a little too arrogant for my taste. That said, he's not without some good points that I believe all readers should adopt. As he rather acidly puts it "Dumb readers finish last." ( )
  cinesnail88 | Sep 7, 2009 |
A concise look at how to read plays. A must read for anyone who works in theatre. Not only does it make you think, but it's fun to read as well. ( )
  karla1981 | Feb 11, 2009 |
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