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A Director Prepares: Seven Essays on Art and Theatre

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A Director Prepares is a thought-provoking examination of the challenges of making theatre. In it, Anne Bogart speaks candidly and with wisdom of the courage required to create 'art with great presence'. Each chapter tackles one of the seven major areas Bogart has identified as both potential partner and potential obstacle to art-making. They are Violence; Memory; Terror; A Director Prepares is a thought-provoking examination of the challenges of making theatre. In it, Anne Bogart speaks candidly and with wisdom of the courage required to create 'art with great presence'. Each chapter tackles one of the seven major areas Bogart has identified as both potential partner and potential obstacle to art-making. They are Violence; Memory; Terror; Eroticism; Stereotype; Embarrassment; and Resistance. Each one can be used to generate extraordinary creative energy, if we know how to use it. A Director Prepares offers every practitioner an extraordinary insight into the creative process. It is a handbook, Bible and manifesto, all in one. No other book on the art of theatre comes even close to offering this much understanding, experience and inspiration.


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A Director Prepares is a thought-provoking examination of the challenges of making theatre. In it, Anne Bogart speaks candidly and with wisdom of the courage required to create 'art with great presence'. Each chapter tackles one of the seven major areas Bogart has identified as both potential partner and potential obstacle to art-making. They are Violence; Memory; Terror; A Director Prepares is a thought-provoking examination of the challenges of making theatre. In it, Anne Bogart speaks candidly and with wisdom of the courage required to create 'art with great presence'. Each chapter tackles one of the seven major areas Bogart has identified as both potential partner and potential obstacle to art-making. They are Violence; Memory; Terror; Eroticism; Stereotype; Embarrassment; and Resistance. Each one can be used to generate extraordinary creative energy, if we know how to use it. A Director Prepares offers every practitioner an extraordinary insight into the creative process. It is a handbook, Bible and manifesto, all in one. No other book on the art of theatre comes even close to offering this much understanding, experience and inspiration.

30 review for A Director Prepares: Seven Essays on Art and Theatre

  1. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Grizzard

    While it does contain practical advice for directors, I would recommend this book to any performer or artist. One of the recurring themes is embracing doubt, uncertainty, and resistance and learning to work with and through those forces. Anne Bogart is a genius and I expect this is a book I'll be returning to again and again (along with Mamet's True and False) when I need a reminder that being an artist is *fucking hard* and making work with integrity often requires, above all else, courage. While it does contain practical advice for directors, I would recommend this book to any performer or artist. One of the recurring themes is embracing doubt, uncertainty, and resistance and learning to work with and through those forces. Anne Bogart is a genius and I expect this is a book I'll be returning to again and again (along with Mamet's True and False) when I need a reminder that being an artist is *fucking hard* and making work with integrity often requires, above all else, courage.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Colin Bruce Anthes

    Anne Bogart has a way of stealing all the good ideas about art one almost manages to have, and articulating them better than one could ever hope to. She's just wonderful. I often return to her writings. There is always a different section that happens to be just what I need to work on in the moment. This time round it was: "The enemy of art is asumption." Anne Bogart has a way of stealing all the good ideas about art one almost manages to have, and articulating them better than one could ever hope to. She's just wonderful. I often return to her writings. There is always a different section that happens to be just what I need to work on in the moment. This time round it was: "The enemy of art is asumption."

  3. 5 out of 5

    Louis

    incredible - taking this with me whenever i direct in the future

  4. 4 out of 5

    Vinnie

    This isn't just a book for directors. It's a book for artists and anyone who does anything creative. Anne examines the act of creation in seven essays, each of which examines a vital element of creativity. She doesn't give very many clear answers, but that's not what a book about creativity should do. Instead, she illuminates and elucidates the central aspects of the creative process, and in doing so, inspires the reader to new avenues of creativity. This isn't just a book for directors. It's a book for artists and anyone who does anything creative. Anne examines the act of creation in seven essays, each of which examines a vital element of creativity. She doesn't give very many clear answers, but that's not what a book about creativity should do. Instead, she illuminates and elucidates the central aspects of the creative process, and in doing so, inspires the reader to new avenues of creativity.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Chuck O'Connor

    Bogart needs to stick to sharing her experiences in an encouraging way, not argue by analogy to biology, neurology or physics. When she is encouraging the reader based on her personal journey there is insight, but when she tries to systemize this experience with theoretical rigor she advances sophistry rather than knowledge. I don't recommend this to people who are seeking working knowledge, but those who need a little pep talk, it is okay. Bogart needs to stick to sharing her experiences in an encouraging way, not argue by analogy to biology, neurology or physics. When she is encouraging the reader based on her personal journey there is insight, but when she tries to systemize this experience with theoretical rigor she advances sophistry rather than knowledge. I don't recommend this to people who are seeking working knowledge, but those who need a little pep talk, it is okay.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Luke Reynolds

    Actual rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars Although there were interesting factoids and great pieces of advice, I was expecting Bogart's collection of essays to involve more on directing craft than personal experience. LGBTQ+ rep includes Bogart, who is queer and married to a woman. Actual rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars Although there were interesting factoids and great pieces of advice, I was expecting Bogart's collection of essays to involve more on directing craft than personal experience. LGBTQ+ rep includes Bogart, who is queer and married to a woman.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    I was assigned to read this for a class, but I found it to be really insightful. I think the advice that Bogart offers can be applied to more than just theater, but to any of life's endeavors. Particularly of course, to where the arts are concerned. If you're in the process of creating something, whether that's writing a book or starting a company, read this book. There's a lot of good advice about facing your fears and the ways in which we hold ourselves back. I was assigned to read this for a class, but I found it to be really insightful. I think the advice that Bogart offers can be applied to more than just theater, but to any of life's endeavors. Particularly of course, to where the arts are concerned. If you're in the process of creating something, whether that's writing a book or starting a company, read this book. There's a lot of good advice about facing your fears and the ways in which we hold ourselves back.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Camryn

    I thought this would be more of a guidebook on how to direct, but it's more of a musing of the purpose of art and theatre specifically. Which definitely wasn't bad. She said a lot of really helpful things, especially about originality, of which she wrote: "In his essay, "Tradition and the Individual Talent" T.S. Eliot suggest that an artist work should be judged not by its novelty or newness, but rather by how the artist handles the tradition he or she inherits. Historically, he wrote, the conce I thought this would be more of a guidebook on how to direct, but it's more of a musing of the purpose of art and theatre specifically. Which definitely wasn't bad. She said a lot of really helpful things, especially about originality, of which she wrote: "In his essay, "Tradition and the Individual Talent" T.S. Eliot suggest that an artist work should be judged not by its novelty or newness, but rather by how the artist handles the tradition he or she inherits. Historically, he wrote, the concept of originality referred to the transformation of tradition through an interaction with it as opposed to the creation of something brand new. More recently, the art world became obsessed with innovation." As someone who worries about my ideas being original pretty much all of the time, this was really great framing that I can hopefully take into the future with me no matter what the project. There are also a lot of great nuggets, although I'm not sure I was smart enough for all of them. There's a part where she talks about a play she did about vaudeville that includes blackface (including Black actors in blackface) because it would be historically accurate. I get why she included it, but the way she describes it as "exorcising" the past and being a very emotional moment for the Black actors... I don't know. I'm sure the play was great, but I feel like something like that is best left for Black artists to handle on their own.

  9. 5 out of 5

    gabrielė

    "Art, like life, is understood through experience, not explanations. As theatre artists, we cannot create an experience for an audience; rather, our job is to set up the circumstances in which an experience might occur." "The enemy of art is assumption: the assumption that you know what you are doing, the assumption that you know how to walk and how to talk, the assumption that what you 'mean' will mean the same thing to those who receive it. The instant you make an assumption about who the audie "Art, like life, is understood through experience, not explanations. As theatre artists, we cannot create an experience for an audience; rather, our job is to set up the circumstances in which an experience might occur." "The enemy of art is assumption: the assumption that you know what you are doing, the assumption that you know how to walk and how to talk, the assumption that what you 'mean' will mean the same thing to those who receive it. The instant you make an assumption about who the audience is or what the moment is, that moment will be asleep." "Inside every good play lives a question. A great play asks big questions that endure through time." "When I reach for a play on the shelf, I know that inside the book is a spore: a sleeping question waiting for my attention. Reading the play, I touch the question with my own sensibilities. I know that it has touched me when the question responds and provokes thought and personal associations – when it haunts me."

  10. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    "Out of the almost uncontrollable chaos of life, I could create a place of beauty and a sense of community. In the most terrible depths of doubt and difficulty, I found encouragement and inspiration in collaborating with others. We have been able to create an atmosphere of grace, intensity and love. I have created a refuge for myself, for actors and for audiences through the metaphor that is theatre." Some really valuable thoughts on art and theatre making. The most useful parts for me were thos "Out of the almost uncontrollable chaos of life, I could create a place of beauty and a sense of community. In the most terrible depths of doubt and difficulty, I found encouragement and inspiration in collaborating with others. We have been able to create an atmosphere of grace, intensity and love. I have created a refuge for myself, for actors and for audiences through the metaphor that is theatre." Some really valuable thoughts on art and theatre making. The most useful parts for me were those grounded in experience and story. Articulated much of what is beautiful about theatre making for me (see above).

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kyle

    The back of this book says the contents are "a handbook, a manifesto, and a bible." It turned out to be mostly a manifesto, sometimes a bible, and not at all a handbook. It was vague, grating, and, ultimately, a waste of my time. I don't doubt Bogart's prowess and knowledge: there are moments of stunning revelation in this book. Unfortunately, they are completely lost on anyone looking for a real handbook on how to prepare for directing a play. The back of this book says the contents are "a handbook, a manifesto, and a bible." It turned out to be mostly a manifesto, sometimes a bible, and not at all a handbook. It was vague, grating, and, ultimately, a waste of my time. I don't doubt Bogart's prowess and knowledge: there are moments of stunning revelation in this book. Unfortunately, they are completely lost on anyone looking for a real handbook on how to prepare for directing a play.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kyle

    Bogart's life in theatre and around world provides plenty of material to reflect upon as the director enters the auditorium as rehearsal begins. Knowing what to do and how "it" will be done is a balancing act that gets succinctly summarized in what appears to be the prototypical listicle. Perhaps each chapter has some relation to Shakespeare ol' chestnut, Seven Age of Man? Bogart's life in theatre and around world provides plenty of material to reflect upon as the director enters the auditorium as rehearsal begins. Knowing what to do and how "it" will be done is a balancing act that gets succinctly summarized in what appears to be the prototypical listicle. Perhaps each chapter has some relation to Shakespeare ol' chestnut, Seven Age of Man?

  13. 4 out of 5

    Fluffy Singler

    I teach with this book every semester, whether I am teaching community education in theatre or whether I am teaching a beginning theatre class. It is lively and from personal experience and in that way, it also imparts what the stakes are in theatre.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Greg Heaton

    This is the first college textbook I've reread. The Bullshit Alarm went off several times, but there's some interesting ideas in there amid all all the psuedo-spiritual stuff. This is the first college textbook I've reread. The Bullshit Alarm went off several times, but there's some interesting ideas in there amid all all the psuedo-spiritual stuff.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Megan L.

    Not worth $50.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Karen Jean Martinson

    Rereading this today for class. So inspiring.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tom Colgan

    This is food for an artist's soul. Having only previously read one book on the subject of directing: The Director's Craft: A Handbook for the Theatre, the impression I had of the style of such books was that they were hands-on, practical manuals for the work of directing plays. Bogart offers a totally different approach here. Her message is one of exploration, as Mitchell's could be said to be, but she evangelises with the other side of the brain. The structure of the book directly calls on the b This is food for an artist's soul. Having only previously read one book on the subject of directing: The Director's Craft: A Handbook for the Theatre, the impression I had of the style of such books was that they were hands-on, practical manuals for the work of directing plays. Bogart offers a totally different approach here. Her message is one of exploration, as Mitchell's could be said to be, but she evangelises with the other side of the brain. The structure of the book directly calls on the big ideas that underpin art, and this filters through into the details of her writing too. I think Bogart allows the reader space to interpret her words, whilst maintaining absolute clarity in what she's saying. That is this book's brilliance. When making notes on this book, I kept coming back to the seven elements that she uses to divide the book. I kept returning to the sentence "Theatre is..." and filling in the blank with whichever chapter title I was on. It always seemed to work. It always made sense. The thoughts that spiralled from each short sentence are testament to the deft writing. This is a book I need to keep nearby, and refer to often. It is definitely not a practical, direct-by-numbers handbook. What it is, is an important provocation to those who want to drive their own creative work. I don't even think it's power is exclusively to be used by directors - her work transcends discipline and speaks to the wider spectrum of those who make art (maybe with a particular emphasis on those working in theatre). Overall, brilliant. I can't wait to look into Bogart's other work, and refer back to this one often.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bryan

    I only give one star because the title is misleading. This is more of a autobiography than it is a guide to the craft and storytelling. You might learn something if you value that type of approach and have the patience to sit through it. She can state the obvious, "I believe culture is a shared experience and is constantly shifting. Ideas, in fact, are the most contagious aspects of human culture." Yeah, dude. That's culture. I was hoping she would get right into how to tastefully handle these se I only give one star because the title is misleading. This is more of a autobiography than it is a guide to the craft and storytelling. You might learn something if you value that type of approach and have the patience to sit through it. She can state the obvious, "I believe culture is a shared experience and is constantly shifting. Ideas, in fact, are the most contagious aspects of human culture." Yeah, dude. That's culture. I was hoping she would get right into how to tastefully handle these seven topics, how they relate to the audience, characters, and their wider importance to the human experience.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dominique Jones

    A Director Prepares by Anne Bogart was one the first of the three books that I have read and I have got to say that this may be one of my favorite books that I have read recently. The learnings in this text are told from the perspective of a director, but they can be applied into many different mediums and aspects of life. As I was reading this, I thought of several different projects over the years where I could have applied the concepts or my thought process applied it instinctively. Overall i A Director Prepares by Anne Bogart was one the first of the three books that I have read and I have got to say that this may be one of my favorite books that I have read recently. The learnings in this text are told from the perspective of a director, but they can be applied into many different mediums and aspects of life. As I was reading this, I thought of several different projects over the years where I could have applied the concepts or my thought process applied it instinctively. Overall it was a very thought provoking read

  20. 4 out of 5

    Aili

    In my world, there are two kinds of good books on directing: Those that challenge me, and those that affirm me. This one does both. So many things, I found myself nodding along and saying, "Oh, I do that! How amazing that Anne Bogart does that, too!" and other things, I thought, "Hm...should definitely try that," or "I hadn't looked at it that way before." I'll definitely be rereading this one every few years. Lots of good reminders. In my world, there are two kinds of good books on directing: Those that challenge me, and those that affirm me. This one does both. So many things, I found myself nodding along and saying, "Oh, I do that! How amazing that Anne Bogart does that, too!" and other things, I thought, "Hm...should definitely try that," or "I hadn't looked at it that way before." I'll definitely be rereading this one every few years. Lots of good reminders.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Julian Munds

    This is one of the finest books on theatre I have ever read. Her book is short, practical, and doesn't rely on complex metaphors, complex semi-pseudo-scholastic speak; it is just a book about creation, doing the work while not relying on obtuse psychosocial abuse like the American Method, and completing it. Just marvelous. Everyone should read it. This is one of the finest books on theatre I have ever read. Her book is short, practical, and doesn't rely on complex metaphors, complex semi-pseudo-scholastic speak; it is just a book about creation, doing the work while not relying on obtuse psychosocial abuse like the American Method, and completing it. Just marvelous. Everyone should read it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ayasha Nordiawan

    my goodness I read the entirety of this book and I still don't know what I'm doing for my HL solo ain't this fun. Putting that aside! Theatre is so beautiful in Bogart's words. You'd fall in love over and over again. my goodness I read the entirety of this book and I still don't know what I'm doing for my HL solo ain't this fun. Putting that aside! Theatre is so beautiful in Bogart's words. You'd fall in love over and over again.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Eliot Fiend

    brilliant. wish i'd read this 10 years ago. brilliant. wish i'd read this 10 years ago.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Havey

    essential reading for directors

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bryn Swain

    “Theatre is the act of resistance against all odds. Art is a defiance of death. There will never be enough encouragement and support and we are all going to die.” — Anne Bogart

  26. 5 out of 5

    Arun Singh

    Anne Bogart talks about the basics of making art. It is not for the directors only, the essays talks about what it means to be human and find art in whatever we do.

  27. 4 out of 5

    John Bingaman

    So wise. So insightful!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Linera

    I saw the SITI production of Midsummer Night's Dream in 2003, and it was the best I have seen, and I've seen several dozen versions. Bought her book, started reading, moved to Portland, forgot about book. Last night, looking for something to read (in denial that recent Baxter book is over) and thought about John Casey comment that writing is like acting, and like directing, found this book on bottom shelf with other theatre books, started reading and wow. I saw the SITI production of Midsummer Night's Dream in 2003, and it was the best I have seen, and I've seen several dozen versions. Bought her book, started reading, moved to Portland, forgot about book. Last night, looking for something to read (in denial that recent Baxter book is over) and thought about John Casey comment that writing is like acting, and like directing, found this book on bottom shelf with other theatre books, started reading and wow.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lessabouchard

    Amazing insight into the political life of theatre over the last century as well as the reasons why we make theatre at all. It is also a nice departure from manuals about technique which only go so far- a book is a book after all. This actually uses the medium of a book beautifully and celebrates the ideas and poetry of performance. A must read for any one remotely interested in performance today.

  30. 4 out of 5

    catechism

    Okay, I loved this book more than I thought I would. I was really just looking for insight into theatre directors, but what I got was insight into art and life and the creative process and also the theatre, but I felt that was sort of secondary. I checked this out from the library, but I will definitely be buying a copy to refer back to. (I am giving it four stars instead of five because I am a pedantic dick, basically, and the writing is sort of uneven in places.)

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