A practical handbook for the implementation of Viewpoints training in ensemble-building and content-creation. Originating from the Mary Overlie’s work in dance and choreography, the Viewpoints technique has resulted in a great influx of physical vitality in many artists’ approach to theatre-making. Though I have never formally studied this technique, I have read the book cover-to-cover at least 5 times and consider myself a big fan.
2. The Presence of the Actor by Joseph Chaikin
The musings of Joseph Chaikin, long-time ensemble theatre maker from the Living Theatre. To hear me speak more about some of the material in this book, check out my post: Joseph Chaikin, Character, and A Sense of Ensemble
3. Group Theatre by Brian Clark
A manual of techniques and methods for “working-up” plays in an ensemble way. This was a major resource and inspiration for me in the initial process of creating Butoh Electra at Syracuse University, a great introduction to a basic ensemble-based theatre-making model.
4. The Fervent Years by Harold Clurman
A stellar account of The Group Theatre in the 1930’s, one of America’s most influential ensemble theatre companies in the history of the country. Lots of drama and people you’ve probably heard of if you’ve done any theatre training in the USA.
5. Towards A Poor Theater by Jerzy Grotowski
A collection of interviews and essays embodying the artistic point of view of revolutionary ensemble theatre artist, Jerzy Grotowski. I’m currently reading this and loving the parallels to butoh.
6. Improvisation for the Theater by Viola Spolin
Games, exercises and advice for creating theatre with adults and children. Spolin’s work serves as the basis for a lot of the work done at one of my favorite New York ensemble theatre companies, the Irondale Ensemble Project. To hear about some of the exercises they use and how they are implemented in the Irondale training, watch my interview Irondale ensemble-member, Nolan Kennedy: Nolan Kennedy on “A Sense of Ensemble”
7. The Creation of an Ensemble: The First Years of the American Conservatory Theatre by John R. Wilk
A fascinating profile of the American Conservatory Theatre, one of the country’s most influential ensemble theatre companies to emerge from the regional theatre movement. The hero of this story is definitely the acclaimed theatre director, William Ball, whose book A Sense of Direction was one of my very first resources on directing and the major inspiration for me to create this blog.
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- What resources do you recommend on the subject of ensemble theatre?
- Where else can I find great accounts of how and when ensembles do or don't work?