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The Essential Theatre 11th Edition

Oscar G. Brockett, Robert J. Ball, John Fleming, Andrew Carlson

  • Published
  • 496 Pages


Noted as one of the most comprehensive, authoritative surveys of the theatre in academia, THE ESSENTIAL THEATRE, 11th Edition, engages your students and gets them excited about theatre. Drawing from the expertise of the authors as dedicated teachers, published scholars, and practicing artists, this text is ideal for an introductory theatre course. It's vibrant and numerous representations of current and classic performances encourage students to become active theatergoers and fans. The Eleventh Edition includes an all-new chapter devoted to musical theatre, while the thoroughly revised chapter on acting covers the diversity of contemporary approaches. The text also includes numerous new photos, new "Then and Now" boxes, and expanded use of dates to provide context for artists' major works. In addition, a companion anthology, PLAYS FOR THE THEATRE, 11th Edition, contains scripts that serve as a foundation for discussion of the various types of theatrical experience explored in the text.

Oscar G. Brockett, University of Texas, Austin

Oscar G. Brockett will always have an international reputation as a theatre historian. A Distinguished Scholar honoree of the American Society of Theatre Research, he received career achievement awards from both the Association for Theatre in Higher Education and the United States Institute for Theatre Technology. In addition, he was a recipient of the Robert Lewis Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Theatre Research. After receiving his Ph.D. from Stanford University, he taught at several major American universities and at the University of Bristol in England. He also served as president of the American Theatre Association, dean of the College of Fine Arts at the University of Texas, editor of THEATRE JOURNAL, and editorial board member of the ASIAN THEATRE JOURNAL. He held the prestigious University of Texas Z.T. Scott Family Chair in Drama and was director of the Center for Dramatic and Performance Studies for several years. Dr. Brockett authored many articles in leading journals and several books, including HISTORY OF THE THEATRE. At the time of his passing, he was serving as a distinguished teaching professor at the University of Texas at Austin and the dean of the Fellows of the American Theatre.

Robert J. Ball, University of the Incarnate Word

Robert J. Ball has ample experience as a successful teacher of Introduction to Theatre and Theatre Appreciation courses at a number of large and small universities, including Trinity University, the University of Texas, and Vanderbilt University. He is also a practicing actor and director with numerous professional credits in American regional theatres, as well as credits for national and international touring productions. Dr. Ball received his Ph.D. in theatre history and criticism from the University of Texas and is currently the chair and artistic director of the Theatre Arts program at the University of the Incarnate Word.

John Fleming, Texas State University

John Fleming, a former Brockett student, was chosen by the Brockett estate to extend the legacy of Oscar Brockett's foundational text. He has taught Introduction to Theatre, Theatre History, and a variety of other classes at the University of Texas, Auburn University, and Texas State University. His books and articles focus on contemporary theatre, while his plays have been popular with undergraduate audiences. After many years as chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance at Texas State University, Dr. Fleming now serves as dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication.

Andrew Carlson, University of Texas at Austin

Andrew Carlson is managing director of the Oscar G. Brockett Center for Theatre History and Criticism at the University of Texas at Austin, where he teaches Introduction to Theatre, Dramatic Literature, Dramaturgy, and Shakespeare. He is a professional dramaturg and actor, who writes about theatrical practice in scholarly contexts. In addition, he is an artistic associate with the Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona, Minn., where he has performed roles such as Hamlet (HAMLET), Edmund (KING LEAR), and Hotspur (HENRY IV, PART I).
  • An all-new chapter devoted entirely to musical theatre covers the developments, significant figures, major works, and various incarnations that comprise the most popular genre of theatre.
  • The chapter on acting has been completely revised to present a diversity of contemporary approaches to acting.
  • Ten new "Then and Now" text boxes link select topics in theatre history to the present-day. These insightful boxed features--and accompanying photos--spotlight the way the past continues to influence the present, not only in theatre but also in popular culture, including films, contemporary comedy, and even flash mobs.
  • Many of the more than 80 vivid new photos feature contemporary productions as well as actors and actresses that students will recognize from film and television illustrating that theatre does not exist in isolation but rather is an art form that is a vibrant part of the cultural makeup of the contemporary entertainment industry.
  • The 11th Edition extends the Enhanced 10th edition's use of dates for major figures and works. The dates are not intended for memorization, but rather provide a sense of context of where a work fits within an artist's lifetime as well as--via implied comparison to the "Theatre in a Broad Context" timelines--where it fits within a sociological context.
  • Numerous "Practitioners and Theorists" boxes are included in the later chapters to give students more perspectives on the different kinds of designers--scene, costume and makeup.
  • Expanded versions of the "Theatre in a Broad Context" timelines help students situate theatrical events and developments within a larger historical context. A timeline has been added to cover Asian and African theatre in Chapter 11 as well as the new Chapter 10: Musical Theatre.
  • Based on instructor and student feedback as well as the authors' own experiences as teachers, the material in Part 2 is organized to make the historical overview of theatre's many expressions more clear, as Chapters 6, 7, 8, and 9 feature increased attention to the major playwrights of the modern and contemporary periods and all plays include a date of first production, thereby offering a clearer sense of context.
  • Providing easy reference, the examination of the differences between the early modernist movements of realism, symbolism, expressionism, surrealism, futurism, and dadaism is included in a feature box that contrasts all the different features of each.
  • Chapters 14–18 include a series of questions to help students attending a performance more fully consider and analyze the work of the different theatre artists.
1. The Nature of Theatre.
2. The Audience and Criticism.
3. The Play.
4. Festival Theatre: Greek, Roman, and Medieval Theatre Experiences.
5. Creating a Professional Theatre: Elizabethan England, Italian Commedia dell'Arte, and Seventeenth-Century France.
6. Theatre in the 1800s.
7. Modernism in the Twentieth Century: 1900–1960.
8. Decentralization and Subsidization: New Directions.
9. Contemporary Theatre and Its Diversity.
10. Musical Theatre.
11. Asian and African Theatre.
12. Theatrical Space and Production Design.
13. Playwriting and Dramaturgy.
14. Directing and Producing.
15. Acting.
16. Scene Design.
17. Costume Design and Makeup.
18. Lighting and Sound Design.

Textbook Only Options

Traditional eBook and Print Options

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  • ISBN-10: 1305995759
  • ISBN-13: 9781305995758
  • STARTING AT $34.49

  • STARTING AT $34.49

  • ISBN-10: 1133310699
  • ISBN-13: 9781133310693
  • Bookstore Wholesale Price $102.25
  • RETAIL $135.95

  • ISBN-10: 1305411072
  • ISBN-13: 9781305411074
  • Bookstore Wholesale Price $172.75
  • RETAIL $229.95

"The comprehensive detail of each chapter is excellent. The topics covered are relevant to modern students' interests and even present some controversial issues that only theater can speak to. ... Contemporary photographs are also a wonderful enhancement and the physical page layout is colorful and engaging to students."

"THE ESSENTIAL THEATRE is a well-written, intellectually rigorous textbook. … The way that it presents the essential elements of theatre provides excellent building blocks for a beginning theatre student."

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.


Instructor's Companion Website

ISBN: 9781305491755
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

Online Instructor's Resource Manual

ISBN: 9781305411364

Cengage Learning Testing, powered by Cognero Instant Access

ISBN: 9781305578876
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.