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Backwards and Forwards: A Technical Manual for Reading Plays Paperback – 7 July 1983

4.5 out of 5 stars 413 ratings

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Product description


“In fewer than one hundred pages, this marvelously instructive book shows how to unlock the secrets of plot, character, theme, exposition, imagery, motivation, conflict, theatricality and pacing….Our editor says he learned more about dramatic structure in the few hours he spent with this ninety-six-page book than he has in his twenty years of theater experience.” - Stage Directions

About the Author

David Ball was one of the nation's first theater literary directors when he served under Michael Langham at Minneapolis's Guthrie Theater. He later taught acting, directing, and script analysis at Lawrence, Carnegie Mellon, and Duke Universities. He was the artistic director of Pittsburgh's renowned Metro Theater and the literary director of the Pittsburgh Public Theater. David Ball's plays and adaptations have been frequently staged at professional repertory theaters throughout the United States and in Europe, including most recently his landmark adaptations of Moliere's Tartuffe, The Miser, and The Imaginary Invalid. His former theater and film students hold Oscars, Obies, Tonys, and Emmys, and his own work has been supported by the Ford, McKnight, and Shubert Foundations, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Southern Illinois University Press; 2nd ed. edition (7 July 1983)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 112 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0809311100
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0809311101
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 155 g
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 13.65 x 1.27 x 21.59 cm
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 413 ratings

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David Ball is an award-winning North Carolina novelist and playwright. He was born deep in New York's Catskill Mountains in 1942. His daddy and granddaddy were Prohibition era bootleggers, his mother an antiques dealer. His plays have been staged off-Broadway and in America's leading professional theaters. He taught writing, acting, and directing at Lawrence, Carnegie-Mellon, and Duke universities. For 28 years his book BACKWARDS AND FORWARDS has been one of the theater and film world's standard and best-selling texts for writers, directors, designers, and actors. His theater students have won Oscars, Emmies, Obies, and Tony awards. He was on the directing and writing staffs of the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Stage Company and the Pittsburgh Public Theater, and North Carolina's Duke Stage Company. He has traversed the widest areas of North Carolina's deep swamps and lived to write about it. Brought up in Stamford, Connecticut, where the only swamps were social ones, he studied science and engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and later attended Alfred University, the University of Maryland, Catholic University in D.C., and the University of Minnesota, from which he holds a Ph.D. in theater and communication. In the late 60s he served in the Peace Corps (Afghanistan). So far his favorite job has been taxi driver in Connecticut, 1960-62,in which his motto was "Tip high, complain low." His historical novel SWAMP OUTLAW is based on extensive personal interviews with the lead characters' direct descendants, and his forays into their swamps. He is currently one of America's leading trial consultants and jury experts, and a best-selling trial advocacy author.

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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5
413 global ratings

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5.0 out of 5 stars For screenwriters too...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on 26 August 2007
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5.0 out of 5 stars 2nd BEST WRITING BOOK
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on 5 January 2021
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4.0 out of 5 stars Indispensable aspects of dramatic structure.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on 30 September 2017
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1.0 out of 5 stars Kindle edition is unreadable
Reviewed in Australia 🇦🇺 on 28 January 2023
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1.0 out of 5 stars Kindle edition is unreadable
Reviewed in Australia 🇦🇺 on 28 January 2023
I wish I could give a review of the actual book, but the kindle edition is unreadable. I would ask for a refund but the window has already passed.
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T. R.
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth it.
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on 5 August 2018
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