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Great Directors at Work

Great Directors at Work: Stanislavsky, Brecht, Kazan, Brook

David Richard Jones
Copyright Date: 1986
Edition: 1
Pages: 380
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  • Book Info
    Great Directors at Work
    Book Description:

    Describes the approaches four top directors used in productions of The Seagull, Mother Courage, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Marat/Sade.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-90857-4
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    My subject is theatre directing in four internationally famous instances. The four directors—Konstantin Stanislavsky, Bertolt Brecht, Elia Kazan, and Peter Brook—all were monarchs of the profession in their time. Without their work, theatre in the twentieth century—so often called “the century of the director”—would have a radically different shape and meaning. The four men are also among the dozen or so modern directors whose theatrical achievements have become culture phenomena. In histories, theories, hagiographies, and polemics, these directors are conferred classic stature, as are the four plays on which they worked. Chekhov’s The Seagull, Brecht’sMother...

  5. 1 Konstantin Stanislavsky and The Seagull: The Paper Stage
    (pp. 15-77)

    During the late Russian summer of 1898, Konstantin Sergeyevich Stanislavsky spent a month and a half alone in a tower in the Ukraine, devising amise-en-scénefor Chekhov’sThe Seagull.The tower’s window opened onto the grainfields sprawling away from his brother's estate in Kharkov. His mind’s view stretched hundreds of versts farther north, to Pushkin, where the members of the Moscow Art Theatre were in a barn putting together a repertory for their critical first season. Weeks later, as he was finishing, the company returned to Moscow to rehearse at the Hunt Club and to occupy the dilapidated Hermitage...

  6. 2 Bertolt Brecht and Couragemodell 1949: Meaning in Detail
    (pp. 78-137)

    What is amodelbook?Physically described, a Brechtian model or modelbook is a play text amplified by illustrative and explanatory materials—especially notes and photographs—that interpret and particularize the play’s actions, characters, settings, and ideas. A model is explicitly intended for other theatres, for copying, for use.

    My subject isCouragemodell 1949,the published modelbook forMother Courage and Her Children.¹ It is less book than package, for it consists of three separate paperbound volumes: script, production photographs, and notes. The script is not a special production version but the basic literary or published text of the play in...

  7. 3 Elia Kazan and A Streetcar Named Desire: A Director at Work
    (pp. 138-199)

    This quotation is a useful beginning because it is typical of Elia Kazan, who talks about art in plain, rather than highfalutin, terms, and because it is reminiscent of the theatre’s conventional wisdom (“75 percent of directing is casting”). More seriously considered, this quotation shows that Kazan treats stage direction as a primarily human activity, in which the most important element is the actor who becomes the character. In his directing, he certainly had other strong suits, including an ear for theme and a talent for devising physical climaxes, both of which could get the better of him. But his...

  8. 4 Peter Brook and Marat/Sade: Workshop and Production
    (pp. 200-264)

    By 1963 and 1964, the period that particularly concerns me here, Peter Brook was an internationally acclaimed director whose star was going nova. After coming down from Oxford in 1945 at the age of twenty, he rose with dizzying speed from London club theatres to the Birmingham Repertory Theatre to Stratford in a single year. At age twenty-two, Brook assumed the self-created position of director of productions at Covent Garden. He succeeded on Shaftesbury Avenue and Broadway, in film, television, the British repertory theatres, and the commercial theatre of Paris. He directed such British stars as Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud,...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 265-280)
  10. Index
    (pp. 281-289)