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Theatre as Human Action

An Introduction to Theatre Arts, Second Edition

Thomas S. Hischak

Hardback
Paperback
eBook
Most introductory theatre textbooks are written for theatre majors and assume the student already has a considerable amount of knowledge on the subject. However, such textbooks may be counterproductive, because they reference several works that may be unfamiliar to students with limited exposure to theatre. Theatre as Human Action: An Introduction to Theatre Arts, Second Edition is designed for the college student who may be unacquainted with many plays and has seen a limited number of theatre productions. Focusing primarily on four plays, this textbook aims to inform the student about theatre arts, stimulate interest in the art form, lead to critical thinking about theatre, and prepare the student to be a more informed and critical theatregoer.

In addition to looking at both the theoretical and practical aspects of theatre artsfrom the nature of theatre and drama to how it reflects societythe author also explains the processes that playwrights, actors, designers, directors, producers, and critics go through. The four plays central to this book are the tragedy Macbeth, the landmark African American drama A Raisin in the Sun, the contemporary rock musical Rent, andnew to this editionthe American comedy classic You Cant Take It with You. At the beginning of the text, each play is described with plot synopses (and suggested video versions), and then these four representative works are referred to throughout the book.

This second edition also features revised chapters throughout, including expanded and updated material on the technical aspects of theatre, the role of the audience and critic,and the diversity of theatre today. Structured into nine chapters, each looking at a major area or artistand concluding with the audience and the students themselvesthe unique approach of Theatre as Human Action thoroughly addresses all of the major topics to be found in an introduction to theatre text.
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 280Size: 7 x 10
978-1-4422-6099-3 • Hardback • March 2016 • $95.00 • (£65.00)
978-1-4422-6100-6 • Paperback • February 2016 • $45.00 • (£29.95)
978-1-4422-6109-9 • eBook • February 2016 • $42.00 • (£27.95)
Thomas S. Hischak is an internationally recognized author,director, and teacher in the performing arts. He is the author of twenty-fivebooks about theatre, film, and popular music, including The Oxford Companion to the American Musical, The Rodgers and Hammerstein Encyclopedia, Off-Broadway Musicals since 1919, The Disney Song Encyclopedia, American Literature on Stage and Screen, and The Encyclopedia of Film Composers. Hischak isprofessor of theatre at the State University of New York College at Cortland.
Acknowledgments and Credits
Introduction
1 THE THEATRE
Theatre vs. Drama
The Theatre Experience
Theatre as Change
Theatre Conventions
Theatre Is Plural
Four Theatre Events
2 THE PLAY
The Script
About Four Scripts
The Elements of Drama
Types of Drama
Dramatic Structure
3 THE PLAYWRIGHT
The Blueprint
Meet the Playwrights
The Germinal Idea
The Playwright's Process
Evaluating the Playwright's Work
The Business of Playwriting
Meet Fifteen American Playwrights
4 THE PLAY PERFORMERS: THE ACTORS
Acting vs. Role Playing
Acting as an Art and a Craft
A Brief History of Acting
Theories of Acting
An Actor’s Tools
The Actor's Process
The Business of Acting
Evaluating the Actor
5 THE PLAY MAKERS: THE DIRECTOR AND THE PRODUCER
Behind the Scenes
The Art of Directing
Theatre Styles
A Brief History of Directing
The Directing Process
The Business of Directing
Evaluating the Director and
Choreographer
The Producer
The Business of Producing
6 THE PLAY BUILDERS I: THEATRE ARCHITECTURE AND SCENIC DESIGNERS
Theatre Architecture
Scenic Design
The Scenic Designer’s Process
7 THE PLAY BUILDERS II: OTHER DESIGNERS
Costume Design
The Costume Designer's Process
Lighting Design
A Brief History of Theatre Lighting
The Function and Elements of Theatre Lighting
The Lighting Designer's Process
Sound Design
Theatre Properties
Makeup in the Theatre
New Technology
The Business of Theatre Design
Evaluating Theatre Design
8 THE PLAYGOERS I: THE AUDIENCE
Theatre Today
Where Theatre Happens
Alternative Theatre
Theatre of Diversity
Foreign Influences
9 THE PLAYGOERS II: THE CRITIC
Theatre Criticism
The Student as Critic
Parting Thoughts
Glossary of Terms
Websites to Visit
Film and Video Versions of the Plays
Index
About the Author
Hischak lays out very clearly the aims of the text in the introduction and meets them all by the end. The use of the four featured plays provides a nice framing devise for the text as a whole and provides the reader with continuity while reinforcing the details of those particular stories. This a well-organized, easy-to-follow, and engaging book.
Patricia Downey, University of South Dakota


I adore this book for its comprehensive nature and its demonstration of the reasons how and why theatre is collaborative. Theatre as Human Action has a logical progression of ideas, provides the reader with an abundance of photos, and is an easy read regardless of one’s familiarity with the subject matter.
Laurel Whitsett, The University of Texas at Arlington


Four well-known plays--MacBeth, You Can’t Take It with You, A Raisin in the Sun, and Rent—are referenced throughout the book as a framing device for the text as a whole; they provide the student with continuity while reinforcing particular details

The concepts are introduced and discussed based on the assumption that the students has had limited exposure to theatre

Complicated concepts and processes are presented in a concise, understandable, and clear manner

The volume features more than 80 photos, primarily of various stage productions

Glossary of Terms

Web sites to Visit

List of Film and Video Versions of Plays

New features
One of the three dramas (Our Town) has been replaced with a comedy: You Can’t Take It with You

The chapter “Playbuilders” has been revised and expanded into two chapters, one focused on scenic design / architecture, the other on costume design, makeup, lighting, sound, etc.

The chapter “The Playgoers” has been revised and expanded into two chapters, one focused on audiences, the second on critics

References to plays / productions have been updated to reflect greater diversity

More than 25 photos have been replaced, featuring more contemporary productions and reflecting more diversity

Technical elements, particularly in the chapter on Playbuilders, have been updated to reflect the latest technology

The List of Web Sites to visit has been updated

List of Film and Video Versions of Plays has been updated

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