Backwards & Forwards: A Technical Manual for Reading Plays

David Ball
This guide to playreading for students and practitioners of both theater and literature complements, rather then contradicts or repeats, traditional methods of literary analysis of scripts.Ball developed his method during his work as Literary Director at the Guthrie Theater, building his guide on the crafts playwrights of every period and style use to make their plays stageworthy. The text is full of tools for students and practitioners to use as they investigate plot, character, theme, exposition, imagery, motivation/obstacle/conflict, theatricality, and the other crucial parts of the superstructure of a play. He includes guides for discovering what the playwright considers the play’s most important elements, thus permitting interpretation based on the foundation of the play rather than its details.Using Hamlet as illustration, Ball assures a familiar base for illustrating script-reading techniques as well as examples of the kinds of misinterpretation readers can fall prey to by ignoring the craft of the playwright. Of immense utility to those who want to put plays on the stage (actors, directors, designers, production specialists) Backwards and Forwards is also a fine playwriting manual because the structures it describes are the primary tools of the playwright.

Reviews

Reviewed: 2017-04-03
David Ball has some for real stuff to say about script analysis but most of it is so damn obvious you wonder who would bother to drop $17.95 for it. If it weren't a required textbook. Some of us who didn't want to give him any money found it in library reserves.

Here's why I didn't want to give him any money: 1. A lot of what is said should be obvious to anyone who's seen more than like two plays in thier life. I don't want anyone who hasn't had more theater exposure than that to have anything to do with the theater I see, or especially by god based on personal experience help to produce, so no sympathy. 2. Most of the rest of what is said is his opinion. Which is fine but should not be presented as gospel. Or, 3. Like a huge dick who thinks he's really the shit when it comes to interpreting.
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