A Director Calls: Stephen Daldry and the Theater

Wendy Lesser, Author University of California Press $40 (250p) ISBN 978-0-520-21206-0
For all those theater fans who have wondered privately what exactly it is that the director does besides saying ""Thank you, darling, that was wonderful!"" Lesser lays out in lucid detail a director's enormous impact on a theatrical production. She does this by zooming in on one lionized young British director, Stephen Daldry, whose inventive production of An Inspector Calls startled London and Broadway critics into unrestrained praise in recent years. By sitting in on numerous rehearsals of this and other Daldry plays, by interviewing designers, musicians, actors and other directors who collaborated with Daldry and by drawing on her wide knowledge of the theater and other arts, Lesser has produced a fascinating book about the process of making a play. The play begins with the playwright's words, but it doesn't end there. It is the director's job to interpret those words to the audience, using the designers, musicians and actors as tools. Daldry, renowned for his visual approach, is especially dependent on brilliant design and music to make his conceptions succeed. When his vision triumphs, the result is extraordinary. When it doesn't, Lesser makes clear, the outcome can be embarrassing. Lesser's delight in theater and her respect for its practitioners is evident at all times, and her personal, colloquial style makes her analyses seem fresh and striking. An absorbing examination of an often misunderstood craft. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/03/1997
Release date: 11/01/1997
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