And still they come. Sometimes I think I shall disappear under the weight of performing arts/training books, the vast majority of them interesting and useful, which arrive in my office and clamour for attention.
Take the new Arden Shakespeare edition of Romeo and Juliet, edited by Rene Weis which publishes on July 15. Part of the third Arden series, now nearing completion, this volume is fatter and more comprehensive, but arguably less obscure and esoteric, than Arden editions used to be. Weis’s introduction includes detailed discussion of the play’s language, and its critical, stage and film history including West Side Story and various film versions. The text is accompanied by clear helpful footnotes.
The third edition of the late Susan Au’s Ballet and Modern Dance is a welcome addition to the bookshelves too. First published in 1988, it has now been revised and expanded by Philadelphia-based Theatre and Dance critic James Rutter. It is, as ever. a succinct, vivid and authoritative introduction to the history of eastern dance. It now includes all the latest developments in dance choreography and technology. It’s an advance copy I’ve been looking at. This new edition is due to publish next month.
Another compelling book, especially to students of singing, is a biography of singing teacher Alfred Wolfsohn by one of his students, Sheila Braggins. Shell shock deprived Wolfsohn of his own singing voice after the First World War, a loss which became the springboard for his development as a pioneering voice teacher in Germany in the 1930s and in London from 1947 to 1962. The Mystery Behind the Voice discusses Wolfshohn’s method and philosophy as well as his life - which included being a major influence on Charlotte Salomon, the young Jewish artist, killed at Auschwitz.
And finally, I have Patrick Lonergan’s The Theatre and Films of Martin McDonagh. Lonergan takes the reader systematically through the anarchic and provocative McDonagh oeuvre from the Leeanne Trilogy to more recent achievements such as the 2009 film In Bruges and A Behanding in Spokane which premiered on Broadway in 2010. The book includes an interview with Garry Hynes, artistic director of the Druid Theatre Company, and four essays on McDonagh’s work by international scholars. Students will find the glossary helpful and there’s an excellent Guide to Allusions at the end.