The careers, directing accomplishments, ideas, and techniques of six distinguished directors of the European stage--each considered a master of the art--are surveyed in depth by author Samuel L. Leiter in this groundbreaking study. Konstantin Stanislavsky, Vsevolod Meyerhold, Max Reinhardt, Jacques Copeau, Bertolt Brecht, and Jean-Louis Barrault, representative of the broad spectrum of directorial art as it has developed in this century, are examined in six exhaustively detailed, yet compact chapters. In Leiter's informative introduction, salient aspects of the director's art exemplified by these innovators are identified and examined: choice of repertory from the intellectually provocative to the escapist; stylistic attitudes toward production from Stanislavsky's spiritual naturalism to Meyerhold's biomechanics and constructivism; rehearsal methods from the dictatorial to the openly collaborative; and a continuing fascination with the shape and function of the performance space. Many of the directors emerge as multifaceted hommes de theatre--writing, directing, acting, designing sets and lighting, and producing. The theoretical writings of the majority of these great directors have become the foundation for Western theatre thought in our time. Each chapter contains capsule descriptions of the landmark productions of the individual director and the volume concludes with a section of brief chronologies for each person and a select bibliography.
A single director is the subject of each of the six chapters, which are organized into numerous subsections that discuss the individual's career, his overarching conceptions of theatre art and directing, and finally his actual working methods. Almost every chapter has information on a director's repertory, major productions, theoretical concerns, techniques of working with actors, playwrights, designers, and composers, casting methods, production preparations, and rehearsal processes. Taken as a whole, these chapters reveal the wide divergence of directorial styles and techniques and the multiplicity of approaches open to exponents of the art. The separate chronologies and select bibliography are especially helpful. Students of stage directing and their teachers, active professionals in the field, and literate general readers who seek a broader understanding of twentieth century theatre and stage direction will find this a handy and invaluable resources. This work could be profitably used as a text or supplementary reading for classes in stage directing and is a companion to Leiter's From Belasco to Brook: Representative Directors of the English-Speaking Stage (Greenwood Press, 1991). [via]