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In How Plays Work, distinguished playwright David Edgar examines the mechanisms and techniques which dramatists throughout the ages have employed to structure their plays and express what they want to say about the human condition. Whether we are playwrights or audience members, Edgar takes us on an exploration that starts with the building-blocks of whole plays structure, plot, genre and on through the construction of scenes and characters to the tiniest devices in the playwright s toolkit. He shows how plays share a common architecture without which the uniqueness of their authors vision would be invisible. What does Jaws have in common with Ibsen? What does Hamlet owe to Aeschylus? And how does a play like Top Girls really work? How Plays Work is a masterclass for playwrights and all theatre practitioners, but also a fascinating guide to the anatomy of drama.
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A fascinating read and there is little doubt that budding playwrights will learn much that will stand them in good stead as they get down to the task of writing and then perfecting their Magnum Opus. --British Theatre Guide
Erudite and entertaining...lively without being lightweight...convincingly argues that knowing how plays work liberates rather than hampers creativity, and that every playwright should learn about these structural elements if for no other reason than they carry the weight of audience expectation, which can be met or disappointed, but never ignored. --Exeunt
Lucid, deeply intelligent... combines theoretical acumen with the assured know-how of a working dramatist. --Times Literary Supplement
David Edgar pioneered the teaching of playwriting in the UK, founding the Playwriting Studies course at Birmingham University in 1989. He is also a leading playwright, best known for his political plays amongst them Pentecost, The Prisoner s Dilemma and The Shape of the Table and for his adaptation of Nicholas Nickelby for the RSC
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