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A Sense of Direction: Some Observations on the Art of Directing / Paperback – October 9, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 180 pages
  • Publisher: Drama Publishers/Quite Specific Media (October 9, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0896760820
  • ISBN-13: 978-0896760820
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,448 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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I used this book in my directing class.
Therunkleseffect
In this lucid and engaging book, Mr. Ball illuminates the amazing collaborative process that theatre is.
zgreenwood@aol.com
For any theatre director, I strongly suggest purchasing this book as the foundation of any library.
J. Remington

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 40 people found the following review helpful By J. Remington on July 26, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mr. William Ball, the former artistic director and founder of The American Conservatory Theatre in San Fransisco, boils down almost forty years of teaching, acting and directing experience into possibly the most effective,educational and practical document about directing. I shudder to use the word text book as that term implies dry academia- an approach which leads to the the death of the theatre- but really this book is indespensable to any theatre director. Ball lays out in a logical, simple and jargon free manner the nuts and bolts of building a balanced right and left brained community which has complete and utter access to the creative impulse. Everything in Ball's book is transferable, practical (sorry about using that term again but it is true)and impeccably rendered. For any theatre director, I strongly suggest purchasing this book as the foundation of any library. Five out of five stars.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 19, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is the best book on directing that I have read. Not only is this an excellent book for directors, but also the chapter on OBJECTIVES is a MUST read for every actor.
Bill Ball gives a step by step process from beginning to end on the art of directing. From blocking, objectives, subtext, and helping the actor to create the inner life of their character to fittings, production meetings, and working with designers, the information you will find in this book is invaluable! No longer do you have technical rehearsals that are disasters. By introducing all sound cues, including music, early on in the rehearsal process, the "Kinks" are worked out at a very early stage. Tech rehearsals then become run throughs--building upon what was done in rehearsals and providing the actors with a non-stop run through, which is so vital for the actors in order to maintain the sense of the through-line of their character.
BUY THIS BOOK! YOU WON'T BE SORRY!
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Leach on December 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
A wealth of practical insight. It could serve as a model for all "how to" books: utterly clear, in stark, spare prose that nevertheless conveys enormous passion for the art. I picked it up as part of a workshop at the Yale Drama School, and have reread it many times. It's a kind of checklist of decisions that must be made by the director, from the most profound philosophical ones to the nuts and bolts of costume design. Mr. Ball's voice here is the one that any director would want to provide his actors in rehearsal: calm, clear, thoroughly informed, and obviously in command.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Killian HALL OF FAME on August 31, 2005
Format: Paperback
SENSE OF DIRECTION is a text every director will want to take a look at, even if, years later, some of Ball's advice seems dated (or too expensive-he was not a man to shy away from large budgets and extended rehearsals if he thought them necessary.) In person he could be rather abrasive, to the point of being ridiculous, like Ross Hunter in a caftan. But on the pages of his book, he exhibits a warm, spiritual nature, almost like a priest. Since the days of the Chekhov dynasty, the director has of course assumed near divine proportions in the theater and you get the feeling Ball enjoyed that role, but he is often very courteous towards his actors. He even goes so far as to say that "one of the director's most important qualifications is knowing when NOT to interrupt his actors."

He was a professional director and the book covers every contingency from "first reading to opening night." Some of Ball's advice is not going to help you if you are an amateur. He gives the advice that actors, like cattle, can't hold too many ideas in their heads at one time so he urges the director to come up with a shorthand of small verbs or nouns with which the actor might make himself aware at all times. "Seduce," for example, might be his direction to the actor playing Cleopatra. Sounds elementary, but it works! After all, he was the man who boasted that he discovered Annette Bening.

He notes that often, for the first ten minutes of a play, the audience finds itself uncomfortable, with a marked realization of the artificiality of theater. They are sitting in a dark room and watching a bunch of people all lit up pretending to be real. As directors our job is to make those first ten minutes fly by so that the dream can swamp the audience and take them along with us on our journey.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 24, 1998
Format: Paperback
One of the clearest, most useful books on theatre ever written. You will find yourself constantly going back to read parts of it over and over again. It is simply and elegantly written with mind-bogglingly appropriate examples. One of the 5 best "how to" books on theatre ever written.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By zgreenwood@aol.com on September 29, 1998
Format: Paperback
In this lucid and engaging book, Mr. Ball illuminates the amazing collaborative process that theatre is. His clear vision of the director's role: the person who must unleash and nourish the creative energy of his cast and crew. Anyone interested in the creative process or bringing out creativity in others will find it hard to put this book down.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By becca2000 on March 5, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This product I got for my daughter who is in a Directing class in college. This book explains many features of directing especially if you're new which she is. This book is helping her out a lot!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Marsh on September 29, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
William Ball gives some pretty strong and important insight in A Sense of Direction. I would recommend all directors read this book whether they work with high school or professional actors. This book also contains important insight for actors who are serious about improving their craft.

The only real issue I have with this book is Ball's writing style. The first few chapters of the book are dense and can be tough to get through. Even in latter chapters, Ball uses many more words than necessary to make his point. This significantly detracts from the reading experience.

That aside, this is still a good book with a lot of valuable insight that can be a great read for all directors and actors.
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