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The Front Page: From Theater to Reality (The Art of Theater Series) Paperback – October, 2002

4.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

From the introduction by Jed Harris...

"..here is a play which reflects miraculously the real as well as the literary personalities of the playwrights. Every line of it glows with a demoniacal humor, sordid, insolent and mischievous to the point of down right perversity, in which one instantly recognizes the heroic comic spirit of its authors.

Both Hecht and MacArthur owe their literary origins to the newspapers of Chicago. Famous crime reporters, their talents were first cradled in the recounting of great exploits in arson, rape, murder, gang war and municipal politics. Out of a welter of jail breaks, hangings, floods and whore-house raidings, they have gathered the rich, savory characters who disport themselves on the stage to Times Square Theatre.

And though they would be the last to acknowledge it, because they are terrified of the word "charm", they have nevertheless written "The Front Page" with a more innocent and unsynthetic charm than I have ever found..."

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Product Details

  • Series: The Art of Theater Series
  • Paperback: 209 pages
  • Publisher: Smith & Kraus Pub Inc; 1 edition (October 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1575253100
  • ISBN-13: 978-1575253107
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #372,819 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Although this edition is extremely informative, giving a great deal of information about the historical context and true-life characters and events that spawned this classic play (and yes, the play itself in its entirety is included here), the text itself is set in miniscule 10-pt. type, with very light inking. Great for reading if you're using an electron microscope, not so great otherwise. And the Drama Play Service edition suffers from the same problem. Some wise publisher needs to set this in 13-point type, with plenty of ink, so that the darn thing is readable. The play itself is a gem and a classic, and serves as a splendid example for aspiring playwrights as to kind of energy necessary to truly engage an audience dramatically. Between the card games, the phones ringing, and the characters darting in and out, there is a constant and wonderful pulse of energy on display. I would have given this five stars, but the type is so small and so faint, it is an absolute labor to read the darn book.
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I am part of a current production of this classic play and wanted to improve my "amateur dramaturge" status by getting the background of the work. I couldn't be more pleased with what I found. Not only does this book have background notes on the history of the play, it also provides an annotated version of the earliest script as researched by the author. (This really helps since the most common acting edition has some obvious mistakes.) The actual figures of 1920's Chicago journalism that are incarnated in the play's wacky characters are identified, together with thorough explanations of historical events, local political and cultural references and even period slang terms that are used in the play. This is a go-to text for directors, producers, dramaturges, actors and dedicated theater buffs who are interested in "getting the scoop" on this American theatrical gem.
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I bought this for a film adaptation class as we were studying the adaptation of this play into the film His Girl Friday. The play first of all is funny, and very different from the film. The notes that come with this edition are exhaustive. Authors Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur were deeply entrenched in the world of journalism and the editor definitely did is homework showing readers how stacked the play is with references to actual people and places around Chicago. There is a lot that the average reader will miss without this guide. Do all these notes really help one understand the adaptation process? I would have to say no, but it does help one understand the play. So if you are going to study this play, definitely get this book.
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