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The Art of Theatre: Then and Now 3rd Edition

William Missouri Downs, Lou Anne Wright, Erik Ramsey

  • Published
  • Previous Editions 2010, 2007
  • 496 Pages


THE ART OF THEATRE: THEN AND NOW, Third Edition, explores issues of cultural diversity and creativity, presents a full day-in-the-life of theatre, and offers comprehensive coverage of theatre history. The authors make timely and relevant connections between theatre and the familiar world of television and film to help students understand how the living art of theatre relates to and influences today's screen entertainment. For flexibility in the way you teach, THE ART OF THEATRE is available in two versions. This full version contains 17 chapters, six of which cover theatre history in both Western and non-Western contexts, and concludes with a chapter on "The Musical". THE ART OF THEATRE: A CONCISE INTRODUCTION features 12 chapters and a briefer treatment of theatre's history, and also features a chapter on "The Musical".

William Missouri Downs,

William Missouri Downs is a playwright and director. His plays have been produced by The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, The InterAct Theatre in Philadelphia, The San Diego Rep, The Berkeley Repertory Theatre, the Salt Lake City Acting Company, the Actors Theatre of Charlotte, the International Theatre Festival in Israel, the Stadt Theater Walfischgasse in Austria, the Jewish Theatre of Toronto, The Bloomington Playwright's Project, the Detroit Rep, the New York City Fringe Festival, the Durban Performing Arts Center in South Africa, and 150 theatres worldwide. His numerous playwriting awards include two rolling premieres from the National New Play Network ("Women Playing Hamlet" and "The Exit Interview"), and twice he was a finalist at the Eugene O'Neill ("Mad Gravity" and "How to Steal a Picasso"). Samuel French, Playscripts, Next Stage Press, and Heuer have published his plays. In addition, Bill has authored several articles and three other books, including SCREENPLAY: WRITING THE PICTURE and NAKED PLAYWRITING, both published by Silman/James. In Hollywood he was a staff writer on the NBC sitcom "My Two Dads" (starring Paul Reiser). He also wrote episodes of "Amen" (starring Sherman Hemsley) and "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" (starring Will Smith) as well as sold/optioned screenplays to Imagine Pictures and Filmways. Trained under the Oscar Nominated Polish Director Jerzy Antczak, Bill has directed over 40 college and professional productions. He holds an MFA in acting from the University of Illinois and an MFA in screenwriting from UCLA. Lanford Wilson and Milan Stitt at the Circle Rep in New York City trained him in playwriting.

Lou Anne Wright, University of Wyoming

Lou Anne Wright is an actor, dialect coach, professor, and writer; she holds an MFA in Voice, Speech, and Dialects from the National Theatre Conservatory and is a certified Fitzmaurice Voicework teacher. Lou Anne has served as voice/dialect coach for such companies as the Colorado Shakespeare Festival and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and her film roles include Judy Shepard in HBO's "The Laramie Project" and Nell in "Hearsay". As a playwright, she authored "Kabuki Medea", which won the Bay Area Critics Award for Best Production in San Francisco. It was also produced at the Kennedy Center. She is the coauthor of the book PLAYWRITING: FROM FORMULA TO FORM, and her screenwriting credits include the film adaptation of Eudora Welty's "The Hitch-Hikers", which featured Patty Duke and Richard Hatch (for which she was nominated for the Directors Guild of America's Lillian Gish Award). Lou Anne teaches acting, voice, speech, and dialects at the University of Wyoming, where she has won several teaching awards.

Erik Ramsey, Ohio University

Erik Ramsey is an Associate Professor of Playwriting in the MFA Playwriting Program at Ohio University. His plays have been developed at various theaters including Cleveland Public Theatre, American Stage, Victory Gardens, and Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre, and been published by Samuel French and Dramatic Publishing. As a new play dramaturg, he has worked in diverse settings from Steppenwolf Theater to WordBridge Lab. Over the past decade he has been a guest artist and taught playwriting, new play development, and narrative theory in a variety of national and international venues, including the St. Petersburg Academy of Dramatic Arts “New American Plays” Conference and Lubimovka Playwrights Laboratory at Teatr.doc in Moscow. Erik’s newest play, a two-hander for actresses in their 40s, explores the intersection of rodeo clowning and time-travel.
  • This edition includes several new "Spotlight" boxes, including one that highlights how theatre and art help us find structure and meaning in life. Others explore how technology may be creating a cultural divide and how theatre can help close the gap, and how creativity relates to the imagination.
  • The authors include improved guidelines on theatre etiquette, such as rules on twittering and texting during a performance.
  • Chapter 5 ("A Day in the Life of a Theatre") now includes important detailed information on how difficult it is to make a living as a theatre artist.
  • Chapter 10 ("A Creative Life") contains many expanded sections on how creativity applies not only to the theatre, but to a student's everyday interaction with education and the world.
  • Several additions in Part 3, "A Concise History," include expanded coverage of theatre in India, more on Aristotelian Scholasticism, in-depth coverage of women on stage in Elizabethan times, and a new section on the Puritans and their intolerance to the theatre.
  • Over 50 new brightly colored photographs help illustrate important concepts.
  • An entire chapter on creativity (Chapter 10, "A Creative Life") compares technique and talent, describes the attributes of creative people, provides tips students can use to enhance their creativity, and outlines the steps of creative problem-solving.
  • Create a customizable, printed anthology of plays for your course by choosing from a large selection of plays--including many discussed in the "Stage to Screen" boxes of this text--at Sundance Choice Drama ( With your customized anthology, students pay only for the plays you assign!
  • "Spotlight" boxes look behind the scenes at the people, places, trends, and events that have shaped theatre. Examples include "The Life of an Actor: Terri White" (Chapter 7, "The Art of Acting") and "Mlle. Clairon and the Beginnings of Realistic Acting" (Chapter 15, "The Restoration, the Enlightenment, and Romanticism").
  • Organized into three distinct sections--"Theatre Literacy", "The Arts within the Art", and "A Concise History"--the text provides flexibility to organize the course in various ways. This full version contains 17 chapters, including six chapters covering theatre history in Western and non-Western contexts, and concluding with a chapter on musical theatre. THE ART OF THEATRE: A CONCISE INTRODUCTION contains 12 chapters, paring back historical coverage to one chapter on theatre's key movements (realism, absurdism, etc.) and then offers one featuring musical theatre.
  • THE ART OF THEATRE gives students a firm background in the primary arts and techniques needed to create a theatre performance, providing a nuts-and-bolts how-to look while developing an appreciation of the art. The text investigates how cultural diversity manifests itself in U.S. theatre today, and how theatre can give a voice to groups who are ignored. It also outlines basic audience etiquette and introduces play analysis.
  • There is thorough coverage of diversity in theatre. The theme of diversity is woven into the text narrative, examples, quotations, and photos. Chapter 3 ("Theatre and Cultural Diversity") discusses diversity in modern U.S. theatre. Chapter 11 ("Non-Western Theatre") discusses African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and Islamic theatre. "Spotlight on Diversity" boxes describe ethnic and cultural diversity in the theatre, exposing students to some of the many voices in theatre. Some examples include "The Life and Death of Ken Saro-Wiwa" (Chapter 1), "Color-Blind Casting" (Chapter 8), and "The Life of a Playwright: Sarah Ruhl" (Chapter 6).
1. Theatre, Art, and Entertainment.
2. Stage vs. Screen.
3. Theatre and Cultural Diversity.
4. Experiencing and Analyzing Plays.
5. A Day in the Life of a Theatre.
6. The Playwright and the Script.
7. The Art of Acting.
8. The Art of Directing.
9. The Art of Design.
10. A Creative Life.
11. Non-Western Theatre.
12. The Greeks to the Rise of Christianity.
13. The Dark Ages to the Dawn of the Renaissance.
14. The Renaissance.
15. The Restoration, the Enlightenment, and Romanticism.
16. Modern Theatre.
17. The Musical.

Textbook Only Options

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  • ISBN-10: 1133876447
  • ISBN-13: 9781133876441
  • STARTING AT $19.49

  • STARTING AT $33.49

  • ISBN-10: 1111348308
  • ISBN-13: 9781111348304
  • Bookstore Wholesale Price $157.50
  • RETAIL $209.95

Cengage provides a range of supplements that are updated in coordination with the main title selection. For more information about these supplements, contact your Learning Consultant.


Online Instructor's Resource Manual

ISBN: 9781337117791
Online resource that contains a variety of resources to aid instructors in preparing and presenting text material in a manner that meets their personal preferences and course needs.

Instructor's Website

ISBN: 9781337117784
Everything you need for your course in one place! This collection of product-specific lecture and class tools is available online via the instructor resource center at You'll be able to access and download materials such as PowerPoint presentations, images, instructor's manual, videos, and more.

Cengage Learning Testing, powered by Cognero® Instant Access

ISBN: 9781337118590
Cengage Learning Testing Powered by Cognero® is a flexible, online system that allows you to import, edit, and manipulate content from the text's test bank or elsewhere, including your own favorite test questions; create multiple test versions in an instant; and deliver tests from your LMS, your classroom, or wherever you want.