BWW Book Reviews: THE CRAFTY ART OF PLAYMAKING
Past Articles by This Author:
BWW Reviews: STAGED by Ruby PrestonBWW Reviews: WITHOUT YOU by Anthony RappBWW Book Reviews: SMUT
He has authored 77 full length plays, 11 musical revues, 4 one act plays, 6 plays for young people, 5 adaptations, and a screenplay. In addition, he has directed more than 300 productions, half of which are plays by other authors. He is often proclaimed as the most producEd English
language playwright outside of Shakespeare, and he has received more than 35 major theatre awards including an Olivier and a Tony for Lifetime Achievement. On any given night, there is probably an Alan Ayckbourn
play being produced somewhere in the world. How does he do it, you may well ask?
Well, some of the answers are contained in this, his only book, THE CRAFTY ART OF PLAYMAKING.
The title may tip you off to a rarely known fact: Ayckbourn
considers himself a director first, and a playwright second. He is, therefore, in the business of 'making' plays, not just writing them. The title also imparts that he considers playmaking a 'craft', and as with any craft there are both artistic and practical decisions to be made. This unique and easy to read volume is formatted like a handbook - a show business primer for creatives, so to speak. It is divided into two parts: writing and directing, making it user friendly for those who choose to solely stay on the page or the stage. The book is also broken down into 100 'Obvious Rules' making it easy to answer the burning question 'What Would Ayckbourn
Do?' in any given situation. Most are just that, obvious, but easily forgotten by even the most experienced writer or director. Some are quite humorous, such as #51 "Beware The Manic-Depressive Costume Designer" or #45 "All Writers Overwrite, Including Shakespeare" (which deals with fine art of cutting). There is a brief diversion into celebrity casting (Obvious Rule #48 "Stars Eat Authors for Breakfast"), which the amdram thesp should still read for amusement alone. Being an Ayckbourn
text there is plenty of humor with lots of amusing anecdotes to satisfy the mere fan. Ayckbourn
also dips generously into his rich canon to supply pithy examples of his Obvious Rules.
Anyone who has attended one of the author's convivial Q&A's or just met him in the lobby bar for a post-show drink, will recognize Ayckbourn
's 'voice' in this marvelous book. As a director and writer of mere mortal proportions in comparison, I cherish this volume and refer to it frequently. All playmakers owe it to themselves and their art to read THE CRAFTY ART OF PLAYMAKING. We can only benefit by being reminded of Ayckbourn
's remarkable achievements.
published by Faber and Faber Limited, London
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Michael T. Mooney has devoted his life to the performing arts, having been involved as performer, writer, director, and administrator. Coming to Paper Mill Playhouse in 1994 from The Growing Stage Theatre in Netcong, New Jersey, he served in the fundraising department under Development Director John McEwen. He became involved in the theatre's accessibility programming, eventually assuming full responsibility for the theatre's nationally recognized Access programs and services. In 2001, he was appointed Manager of Outreach and Access Programs, a position he designed himself. Mr. Mooney has led community drives for the Victims of 9-11, Jersey Cares, New Eyes for the Needy, The Make-A-Wish Foundation, Lainie's Angels, First Book NJ, Tsunami Relief, The American Red Cross, and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. In addition to his Access responsibilities, he also directed Paper Mill's Senior Players Workshop, managed the award-winning Adopt-a-School Project and has been both instructor and adjudicator for their STAR program. He is a founding member of LEAD and served on the board of directors for The Fund for the New Jersey Blind, The Audio-Description Coalition of America (ADC), The New Jersey Cultural Access Network, and The New Jersey Theatre Alliance. For five years, he studied directing and writing for theatre-in-the-round with England's Sir Alan Ayckbourn and has staged more than 60 productions of plays and musicals in Northern New Jersey, including the American premieres of four of Sir Alan's plays. Michael is the proud recipient of the 2008 New Jersey Governor's Award for Arts Education and the 2003 Ann Klein Advocate Award for his work with senior citizens and people with disabilities. Easter Seals New Jersey named him one of their "Miracle Workers" of 2008. He is a native of Asbury Park, New Jersey, having also lived in Central Florida and London, England. |