Kiara Pipino, Oneonta, NY
Copyright Year: 2022
Publisher: SUNY Oneonta
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The text covers a lot of areas and ideas concerning the subject of theatre and appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary. Chapters on Lighting (too technical), Costuming (too short), and Musical Theater (too biased) could be... read more
The text covers a lot of areas and ideas concerning the subject of theatre and appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary. Chapters on Lighting (too technical), Costuming (too short), and Musical Theater (too biased) could be possibly re-examined and adjusted?. Noticeably missing was a chapter on stage makeup.(see Modularity below)
The authors (especially Kiara Pipino and Andrew Kahl) are extremely knowledgeable and eloquent about their subject, their passion for the theatre is palpable. Other contributors were definitely biased in the inclusion of certain productions, genres, or persons related to their topic.
Chapter 8: The Playwright by Ingrid de Sanctis used one of the “blue boxes” to interview T.J. Young, a playwright and Asscoiate Professor at Carnegie Mellon. To be honest, it felt like a political nod to diversity and inclusion (a topic which should very well have an additional chapter, perhaps, but instead seemed forced into the conversation here and there). While Mr. Young is certainly accomplished, why not use the space discussing famous playwrights of the American Theatre like Authur Miller (1915-2005), Edward Albee (1928-2016), Tom Stoppard (b. 1937), Caryl Churchill (b. 1938), or Tony Kuchner (b. 1956), just to name a current few? If this is a survey/appreciation course then universally recognized people of influence/importance relating to theater should be included, no? The interview with Hal Luftig in Chapter 7: The Producer seems appropriate, given his proven stature and permanent mark on the national theater scene.
Chapter 14: Musical Theatre by Emily Jones was curious in the choices of important or transforming musical theatre productions. Showboat (the first true American musical) gets a nod with the same amount of text as Guys and Dolls and Hair. And a paragraph entitled The Commercialization of Broadway implies that box office, entertainment, and making money was not The Great White Way’s original intent. She also uses terms such as Latinx, which may be offensive or short-lived (see “Cultural” heading below).
The book mentions specific actors, Broadway shows, and events, which can date the material quickly (an effective remedy could be to include more dates so that everything can be viewed relative to the specific era or time frame). Numerical figures (for example the average Broadway salary, or referencing the current year [2022!]) will change over a relatively short time frame (due to inflation, other economic factors, or the immediate passage of time). Other references to 9/11 or the COVID pandemic may date the material (in the mind of the reader) and in so doing, its relevance. Living costs/environment in New York City were not discussed, perhaps due to the rapidly changing conditions.
Yes I felt that this book for the most part would be an excellent reference for any theater major or student interested in learning about the theatre.
I felt that this book needed a more cohesive purpose, a clear identity (a problem for all collaborative manuscripts). Is it a book, as the title implies, for general students to build an appreciation of the theater or is it, as some of the technical chapters suggest, a manual for theater majors? Kiara Pipino was in sync with the former and several of her colleagues (like Dr. Kahl) were presenting the latter. Also, some of the chapters were beautifully researched (Chapter 5: The Actor by Andrew Kahl was especially well written, authoritative, informative and comprehensive, or Chapter 13: Applied Theatre by Krysta Dennis, fascinating!) while others were less appealing or detailed (Chapter 10: The Costume Team by Bethany Marx was only twelve pages long.).
Well organized and thought out although, due to the various authors, some chapters were longer, more comprehensive, better written than others. For example, Chapter 10: The Costume Team was thin and felt cursory. There could have been more discussion of historical styles, types of fabric, footwear, and auxiliary accoutrements (such as wigs, prosthetics, hats, props etc…). Noticeably missing was a chapter on stage makeup.
The book is well organized though more thorough editing may be needed. For instance, the material in Chapter 12: Theatre History, in Brief! was repetitive since the exact material was already covered in Chapter 1: A Bit of History section.
This book in PDF format is a bit unwieldy due to its length, although the table of contents is well laid out at a glance. I wish there were more clear photos and examples of theater productions throughout. As it is, almost all of the photos and drawings that are included (and are essential in presenting a visual representation of what is being discussed) are so badly pixelated that the details and name plates are totally obfuscated (there are many examples of this, but the map of Lincoln Center on page 26 is especially egregious). The page breaks were arbitrary with often only one sentence on a vast sheet of white wasteland (for example: pages 55, 61, 74, 77, 81, 85, 93, 155 etc…).
There were not glaring grammatical errors except for a few places. In the conversation with TJ Young on page 120 he refers to the ballet The Rite of Spring (Le Sacre du printemps) but its title is not capitalized. Also on pages 204 and 207 the photo credit is reproduced twice.
The text perspective changes with the different authors of some of the chapters. This is understandable but sometimes the voice of the writer is more casual or technical than another’s. Often the author’s opinions or favorite subjects are (predictably) prominent but their preferences (choice of famous actors, shows, directors, ethnic terms, etc…) may conflict with the reader’s artistic or cultural worldview. (Personally, as a man of Mexican descent, I was put-off by the recurring term “Latinx” which is a trendy, somewhat ridiculous, and slightly offensive, word. In 2021, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) dropped the word from all official communications because “it’s very unliked by almost all Latinos.”).
The foreword by Kiara Pipino set the tone of the aim of the book (casual), but I am not sure it was followed through (her chapters were light and breezy, others' not so much). The intention of the text (at times light and entertaining, at times serious and technical) was sometimes unclear; whether it’s a book for non-theater majors or actual theater majors. The essay by Gillian Canavan, though not an expert, was interesting and might appeal to students because it was written by one.
Table of Contents
- Title Page
- I. Theatre: The Basics
- 1. Why Theater?
- 2. Theatrical Spaces
- 3. How to Read a Play and Watch a Production
- 4. Genres and Styles
- II. Professionals in Theatre: Who Does What?
- 5. The Actor
- 6. The Director
- 7. The Producer
- 8. The Playwright
- 9. The Set Team
- 10. The Costume Team
- 11. The Lighting and Sound Teams
- III. The Culture of Theatre
- 12. Theater History, in Brief!
- 13. Applied Theater
- 14. Musical Theatre
- 15. Global Theatre
- Theatre Appreciation: A Student's Perspective
- Essential Bibliography
About the Book
#TheatreAppreciation is a textbook for introductory level lecture classes such as Theatre Appreciation and Introduction to Theatre. It provides insight about the art and craft of theatre, a brief exploration of theatre history, and discussion about the styles and forms of theatre along with an overview of professions in the field.
About the Contributors
Kiara Pipino is an Associate Professor of Theatre at SUNY Oneonta and a freelance director and translator. She has worked nationally and internationally, including Off Broadway, in Italy for the Italian National Theatre, in the Czech Republic for the Prague Shakespeare Company, in the Philippines for Ateneo de Manila University, and in Greece, for Theatre of Changes. Her research fields include the role of women and gender in theatre, classic Greek theatre, and Movement for Actors. She is a graduate of the Universita’ degli Studi di Genova (Italy) and of the University of Arkansas and she holds a certification in the Michael Chekhov Technique from GLMCC. She is the author of Women Writing and Directing in the USA: A Stage of Our Own, published by Rutledge in 2020, she co-authored Conquering the Stage, for Kendall Hunt, in 2017 and she wrote Theatre and Pietas for the University of Trento Press also in 2017.