Cover image for The audience & the playwright : how to get the most out of live theatre
The audience & the playwright : how to get the most out of live theatre
Simon, Mayo.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Applause Theatre & Cinema Books ; Milwaukee, WI : Hal Leonard Corp., [2003]

Physical Description:
221 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library PN2193.A8 S57 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



(Applause Books). Have you ever noticed how clever you feel in the theatre? You get the joke when no one on the stage is laughing. You see the threat that no one on the stage seems to notice. You weep when leading characters do not shed a tear. Sometimes you feel an almost God-like understanding of people and events. Who put you in this privileged position? The Audience & The Playwright analyzes the tactics used by all playwrights, from Sophocles to David Mamet, to give the audience extraordinary powers and a unique role that it will play perfectly and without rehearsal. Structured as an evening in the theatre, the book is analytical but straightforward, serious but entertaining. A working playwright's view of what really happens between the stage and the audience, from the beginning of the play until the end, it is a book for the serious theatregoer, as well as a book for the college classroom. "Mayo Simon would be a wonderful opening night date. He knows the theatre like the palm of his hand, loves it, and articulates it. Short of Mayo as a date, this book is your best companion." Jon Jory Professor of Acting & Directing, University of Washington School of Drama

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Playwright Simon provides a book that is equally insightful for the playgoer and the playwright. Experiencing live theater performance is not like watching TV or going to a movie, he writes. Likewise, writing a play is not like writing a television script or a screenplay. The audience has an active role in live performance, a role Simon explicates via the metaphor of an evening at the theater, using examples from several classic and contemporary plays. The result is an inside look at what the audience is doing as it experiences theater and how the best plays work, because "the playwright constructs the proper relationship between the stage and the people in the seats." Unique in its approach, this is not a playwright's instruction book (for that, see Val Taylor's Stage Writing: A Practical Guide). Instead, it is a discussion of why "when the play works, it works for everybody." As enjoyable as it is educational, this is recommended for all theater collections.-Laura A. Ewald, Murray State Univ. Lib., KY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Simon's odd but engaging book offers a brisk course in drama appreciation from the playwright's perspective. A dramatist himself, Simon takes on the role of guide, illuminating unique elements of numerous significant plays in brief, concisely written vignettes. From Aeschylus's Persians to Tony Kushner's Angels in America, Simon makes a persuasive case for the importance of the playwright's contributions--plot, scene, language, and mood--in giving the audience an omniscience that enhances the bond between the live performer and the spectator. The audience for this book is not entirely evident--it should prove especially useful to inexperienced readers in introductory theater courses, but above that level it may seem a bit glib. Simon's tone is lighthearted and conspiratorial but often a bit condescending. Despite this, his love of plays and stage artifice has an exhilarating and infectious quality. The range of mostly canonical plays Simon elects to analyze is impressive, though the brief analyses do not run deep--an understandable flaw given that Simon is attempting to provide illumination of 2,500 years of the theater in a mere 215 pages. The seasoned theatergoer or practitioner will surely demand a more sophisticated analysis than Simon aims for in this book. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. High school and lower-division undergraduate collections. J. Fisher Wabash College

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