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I always wanted to get this book. I bought a copy from a second party seller at a great price. With shipping I still saved 50%. The copy I received was better than new. The description was very accurate it read very good clean copy with no markings. Perfect. As for the book itself, it's a classic worth every penny spent. All considered it's a steal.
The scope of BACKWARDS AND FORWARDS is narrow, but its ambition is important. This is a book about how to read a play. More specifically, it's about how to read a play whose production you are planning. There are 96 pages in this book and many of them are only partially filled. Some of them are blank. So in very few pages, author David Ball gives some valuable and (I would say, essential) advice. So many bad productions are bad simply because of a basic misreading of the script. Ball tells prospective directors what's important and how to recognize what's important. His advice is very straightforward and concise. He does not pad the book by going off on tangents or use long anecdotes to illustrate a point. He makes a point and then moves on to the next one. I think this book should be compulsory reading for the director, but it is also valuable to the playwright, the actor and the designer. This book is basic. There is a great need to get back to basics. David Ball has done the theatre a great service by writing this valuable book.
David Ball's Backwards & Forwards is the single most important book you need to understand any dramatic work. While it is a 'must-read' for any student of theater and is widely taught, it really has immense value for anyone who enjoys any dramatic narrative and even has value for writers or readers of any sort. Like David himself with whom I had the great pleasure of studying, the text is straightforward and clever. He pads nothing, gets right to the point and boy, does he hit the mark.
I would highly recommend this book. I needed it for a class and borrowed it from the library, however, after reading it found it so helpful I bought it from Amazon. It's written like he's talking right to you. He uses lots of examples, some of them are very funny. It's short and sweet and very informative. A great little manual to have on hand, I think! Buy it! It's not expensive!
As someone who's done a masters in screenwriting and now in the middle of a PhD, I've read many of the screenwriting manuals out there and this is one of the best. It's a quick but pithy read. Much of what is recommended in this book (in 1983) is simply repeated by many others over the following two decades, but they do it less succinctly. Although targeted at playwrights, most of the content is equally applicable to screenwriting. The basic premise of the book, to work backwards rather than forwards through your script when rethinking/rewriting it, seems simple but is very powerful advice. No apprentice screenwriter sholud be without this in their library.