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Impro for Storytellers (Theatre Arts (Routledge Paperback))
Impro for Storytellers (Theatre Arts (Routledge Paperback))
by Keith Johnstone
Edition: Paperback
Price: $29.15
39 used & new from $16.07

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly Useful, September 5, 2006
This is quite a large book, pretty much entirely made up of a wide variety of games for actors with vivid examples of what students come up with under pressure, and thorough explanations of the goal of each excercise. It's extremely well written and just as good as something to sit down and read, as something to get up and play with.

The games range from easy to very hard; many would make excellent fun warm-ups to introduce non-actors to basic acting theory and to interacting with an audience. What makes this book unusual for an acting text is the emphasis on story, and the highly audience-centric approach to performance.

I would seriously recommend this book to writers, screenwriters, and story artists. The ultimate goal for Johnstone is to teach his improvisers to hook the audience and keep them hooked by altering tactics, reversing, raising the stakes, setting up expectations. Throughout, his unexpected cry of "Be obvious! Don't be creative!" keeps the story being invented on an engaging emotional level.

I bought this because I'm teaching a class involving some acting, but found so many exciting ideas for plotting I want to send a copy to everyone I know in story. First rate.

Ireland: A Novel
Ireland: A Novel
by Frank Delaney
Edition: Audio CD
25 used & new from $0.58

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Storytelling gift, June 23, 2005
This review is from: Ireland: A Novel (Audio CD)
The real way to experience this book is to listen to the terrific reading by the author himself on audiobook. Why read a book on the oral tradition in Ireland, when you can hear a master of the craft speak it?

Basically it's a sentimental story of a boy and his encounters with a mysterious storyteller, over the course of his growing up. This is interwoven with the storyteller, and various other characters, telling tales of episodes in the history of Ireland. You'll hear about the Battle of the Boyne rather than about fairies or magic; but the tone of the stories is similar to a folktale.

It sounds (or it did to me) like it could be excruciatingly cute. But somehow it's not; maybe it's the down-to-earthness of the writing. It's not a page-turner (or CD-flipper I gues you'd call it)-- the pacing is mellow and you can dip in and out, although it holds your interest in a steady grip.

I imagine it would be a very nice read but even if you don't listen to audiobooks as a rule, do give this one a try-- it's a masterpiece of a reading. Perfect pacing, liveliness, acting, characterization, mood-setting-- not to mention a very showy display of pretty much every variety of accent on the island! Clearly Delaney is a deep student of the grand tradition of Irish storytelling. Grand stuff, as they say.

Song from the Forest: My Life Among the Ba-Benjelle Pygmies
Song from the Forest: My Life Among the Ba-Benjelle Pygmies
by Louis Sarno
Edition: Paperback
43 used & new from $2.21

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too Much Information?, April 28, 2004
Not so much a travelogue as a bizzare cross between "Heart of Darkness" and "Lolita".

One thing you can say for the author: he's astonishingly honest about every petty, self-aggrandizing, naive and delusional sensation that crosses his mind. If this had been a piece of fiction, the portrayal of a classic unreliable narrator would have been a masterpiece. I definitely give the guy credit for a vivid and direct writing style.

The bit about the music was nice, but I found the descent of Luis Sarno from clueless idealist into clueless Kurtz-style nutcase utterly absorbing. A fascinating and painful story of culture clash and the universality of human greed and weakness, with a cringe-making 'love' story that makes you feel awful for all concerned. I certainly enjoyed this book, though not for the reasons advertised!

David Lean: A Biography
David Lean: A Biography
by Kevin Brownlow
Edition: Hardcover
62 used & new from $2.05

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing and Illuminating, January 22, 2004
Marvellous biography of a cinema titan. Brownlow is a great film historian and no mean director himself, having made the gorgeous Silent Era documentary "Hollywood" (is that ever coming out on DVD?!). His knowlege of real-world production lets him know just what questions to ask. The tone is very chatty, with so much quotage from Lean that it's half an autobiography. It reminded me of "Hitchcock/Truffaut", another filmmaker-to-filmmaker conversation. Mind you Truffaut didn't bother quite so much with Hitchcock's love affairs, but one can always skim. It looks intimidatingly massive but this is more because of the lavish illustrations than excessive wordiness. Great read, inspiring and full of useful tidbits.

Re-Reading Harry Potter
Re-Reading Harry Potter
by Suman Gupta
Edition: Paperback
42 used & new from $0.01

38 of 47 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Uninsightful vamping, December 25, 2003
The other reviewer is spot on, this is a dreary trudge through every fashionable tourist-spot of contemporary criticism. It barely engages with the actual books, pausing at the actual experience of reading only long enough to spot the landmark heresies: sexism (check), racism (check), imperialism (check)... flip through the index and compare the references to characters in the books, vs. the references to vogue theorists, and you'll get the idea. As expected, there is considerably more space made for academic squabbles than for any recognizable experience, human or literary. The inquisitor wraps up this excericize in scholasticism with the shocking announcement that Rowling has been discovered to be (gasp!) a bourgouise liberal. Light the pyres!
A witch-hunt indeed. Yuck.

The Visual Story: Seeing the Structure of Film, TV and New Media
The Visual Story: Seeing the Structure of Film, TV and New Media
by Bruce A. Block
Edition: Paperback
38 used & new from $9.82

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius, October 31, 2003
Eye-opening is an understatement, Bruce Block turned film editing for me from a mystery into a language. I was fortunate enough to attend his seminar once, the single most useful lecture on anything I've ever been to. My notes are falling apart from constant use, finally he has a book out!

Going beyond the usual editing basics of clarity and information delivery, this book explains with how to use shapes, colour, and motion on screen to control pacing and feeling. No film student should be without it; also screenwriters, comic artists, web designers, anyone who deals with visual storytelling. Five stars, I'd give it more if I could!

The Black Stallion
The Black Stallion
DVD ~ Kelly Reno
Price: $6.59
90 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Best animal cinematography ever done, October 27, 2003
This review is from: The Black Stallion (DVD)
The relative obscurity of this film has been a boon to a generation of film makers, who have shamelessly ripped off the stunning shooting of Caleb Deschanel ("The Natural") and especially the film editing of John Dalva, who inexplicably failed to get the Oscar that year. Much as I enjoyed 'Seabiscuit' visually it wasn't even close, frankly I wish people would steal from 'Black Stallion' a little more.
I say this as a horse nut, mind you, who sat in her youth through every horse movie ever made! Cinematographers, even great ones, never seem to quite 'get' how to film horses, this is the textbook not only on dramatic filming of animals but valuable to study for cutting generally. The action sequences particularily thrust you right into the scene in very original ways-- I much prefer the gritty way the shipwreck was handled here, to the slicker, colder editing in Titanic.
Horsey girls need no persuading to see this movie; I'd rather urge film students to brave chortling roommates and take a good long look.
On a horsey note though, how on EARTH did they get that horse to do all that stuff?!

The World of Herodotus
The World of Herodotus
by Aubrey De Sélincourt
Edition: Paperback
26 used & new from $2.99

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply wonderful, October 26, 2003
This review is from: The World of Herodotus (Paperback)
De Selincourt is the translator of the Penguin 'Histories' of Herodotus, and although I prefer Oxford version by Waterfield, I just love this book.
Much more than just a guide to the 'Histories' (which are so entertaining and clear as to hardly need one), this is a wide-ranging introduction to the life, thought, literature, and history of the Classical Greek world, focusing on the earlier period when Herodotus wrote (500BC).
As humane, balanced, and passionate as Herodotus himself, with lovely old-fashioned prose. This is a reprint from the 1960s, it puts to shame most histories written now, which tend to be either condescending or chillingly post-modern (often both). It's refreshing to read a historian who loves his subject and isn't afraid to enthusiastically share his love with his readers. There's a good look at what is know today about the events Herodotus wrote about; also chapters on philosophy, the cultures of the islands, the position of women, etc. There's also some first-rate translations of poetry, including a passage from the 'Iliad' which is best version I've ever read, it's a real shame the author never attempted the whole thing.
I picked up a copy last year in the UK and it's great to see it issued here. If you need reminding why the Greek world was so inspirational and revolutionary, this is the book to get.
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