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Theatre Biographies New & Featured

See also: Theatre > Playwrights; Film > Biographies; Directors; Producer

Intolerable: A Memoir of ExtremesIntolerable: A Memoir of Extremes
Kamal Al-Solayee
Part memoir of an Arab family caught for six decades in the turmoil of Middle Eastern politics, part personal coming-out narrative and part cultural analysis, this is a story of the modern Middle East, in all its irrconcilable differences, seen through a unique lens. Hardcover, 204 pp. $27.99.


Trans(per)Forming Nina Arsenault: An Unreasonable Body of WorkTrans(per)Forming Nina Arsenault: An Unreasonable Body of Work
Judith Rudakoff
Nina Arsenault: transgendered playwright-performer, columnist, and sex worker. Arsenault has undergone more than sixty surgeries at a cost $200 000 to feminize and beautify her originally male body. Rudakoff brings together texts by artists, scholars, and Arsenault herself that vary widely in perspective, experience and form. Softcover, 232 pp. $29.95.


Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the WorldCharles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World

Simon Callow
In this highly entertaining biography, acclaimed actor and writer Simon Callow captures the essence of Charles Dickens in a sparkling narrative that explores the central importance of the theatre to the life of the greatest storyteller in the English language. Callow brings his own unique insight to a life drive by performance and showmanship. He reveals an exhuberant and irrepressible talent, whose 'inimitable' wit and personality crackle off the page. Hardcover, 370 pp. $24.99.


Dropped Names: Famous Men and Women as I Knew Them Dropped Names: Famous Men and Women as I Knew Them
Frank Langella
Captured forever in a unique memoir, Frank Lengella's myriad encounters with some of the past century's most famous human beings are profoundly affecting, funny, wicked, sometimes shocking, and utterly irresistible. With sharp wit and a perceptive eye, Mr. Langella takes us with him into the private worlds and privileged lives of movie stars, presidents, royalty, literary lions, the social elite, and the greats of the Broadway stage. Hardcover, 356 pp. $28.99.


A Fiery Soul
A Fiery Soul: The Life and Theatrical Times of John Hirsch
Fraidie Martz & Andrew Wilson
Legendary giant of Canadian theatre.

John Hirsch arrived in Winnipeg in 1947, a 17-year-old Hungarian orphan of the Holocaust, knowing no English. Ten years later, he co-founded the Manitoba Theatre Centre, establishing a model for regional theatres across North America. He went on to direct award-winning productions in Los Angeles, New York, Stratford and Toronto - everything from Guys and Dolls to The Tempest - and to work with actors like Len Cariou, Martha Henry, Anthony Hopkins, and Maggie Smith. Notorious for his fiery temper, budget - blowing sets, and artistic risk-taking, he had a stormy four years as CBC's head of TV drama in the 1970s (high and low points include King of Kensington and Peter LougheedÂ’s lawsuit over The Tar Sands), and an even stormier tenure as Artistic Director at the Stratford Festival from 1981 to 1985. He died in 1989 of AIDS.

Praise for John Hirsch:
"In life and on stage, John Hirsch knew how to corrupt his audience with pleasure. Swift of mind and of gesture, Hirsch was a dazzling director - playful, witty, and daring; as a friend and collaborator, he was some kind of rabbinical Hungarian mensch. Unforgettable." - John Lahr, Senior Drama Critic, The New Yorker.


Look, I Made a HatLook, I Made a Hat
Stephen Sondheim
The eagerly anticipated to Sondheim's best-selling, critically acclaimed Finishing The Hat. This volume covers the work done by this essentail artist between 1981 and 2011. In his own words, it is the "collected lyrics with attendant comments, amplifications, dogmas, harangues, digressions, anecdotes, and miscellany". The perfect gift for any musical theatre fan, lover of letters, or for anyone who appreciates genius and wit. Hardcover, 453 pp. $50.00.


Stephen Sondheim: A LifeStephen Sondheim: A Life
Meryle Secrest
The first and only full-scale and definitive biography of the most important composer-lyricist in musical theatre today. A fascinating and remarkable portrait of the man, the music, and the genius of Stephen Sondheim: star of his own fascinating and unfinished life. Softcover, 461 pp. $18.00.


Where There's SmokeWhere There's Smoke

William B. Davis
Best known as the Cigarette Smoking Man on TV's The X-Files, Bill Davis here recounts his life story, a wonderful window in to the history of Canada and Canadian theatre, and to the craft of stage acting and directing. Where There's Smoke will also be endlessly fascinating to fans of The X-Files. Softcover, 280 pp. $22.95.


Lives and LettersLives and Letters

Robert Gottlieb
The incomparable New Yorker writer and critic Robert Gottlieb shines a light on some of the most iconic figures of the 19th and 20th century including Mae West, Harry Houdini, Elia Kazan, Charles Dickens and Judy Garland. Through witty and insightful profiles as well as letters written to and from these stars, Gottlieb brings all of them to life. Hardcover, 420 pp. $34.50.


Franco Zeffirelli: Complete Works - Theatre, Opera, Film Franco Zeffirelli: Complete Works - Theatre, Opera, Film

Edited by Caterina Napoleone
Produced in full cooperation with Zeffirelli and his family, it explores every aspect of his astonishing achievement in the performing arts. The performance shots of classic stage productions are particularly revealing, each a lasting testament to Zeffirelli’s visual expertise. Even more suggestive are Zeffirelli’s costume sketches, set designs, and technical drawings, which reveal the artist’s mind through the artist’s hand. Both a monument to an artistic genius and a magnificent piece of bookmaking, Franco Zeffirelli: Complete Works is a must-have book for anyone who has beem moved by the works of the master. Hardcover with slipcover, 512 pp. $180.00.


The HammersteinsThe Hammersteins

Oscar Andrew Hammerstein
The Hammersteins presents a multi-layered portrait of the family whose name has become synonymous with musical theatre. Complete with personal and professional highlights, as well as scandals and tragedies, and illustrated by a rich collection of photographs, programs, patents and more, this volume is at once a deeply personal story of a prolific family who made New York the centre of the theatrical world, and changed an art form forever. Hardcover, 236 pp. $41.95.


Hijikata: Revolt of the Body Hijikata: Revolt of the Body
Stephen Barber
Tatsumi Hijikata invented the revolutionary performance art 'Ankoku Butoh' - now celebrated worldwide as one of the most innovative and haunting contemporary art forms. This essential study of Hijikata is the first ever account of his life and work in English, and is based on extensive itnerviews withi his surviving collaborators. Softcover, 112 pp. $23.95.


An Untidy Career: Conversations with George HallAn Untidy Career: Conversations with George Hall

Lolly Susi
Lolly Susi's interviews with performer and teacher George Hall are a unique insight into the mind of a great all-round theatre practitioner. It is a must read for actors, academics, students and theatre buffs. Softcover, 58 pp. $25.50.

The Pantomime Life of Joseph GrimaldiThe Pantomime Life of Joseph Grimaldi
Andrew McConnell Stott
Joseph Grimaldi was the most celebrated of English clowns. An innovator, an acrobat, a comic genius, treasured by the fashionable set and the provincial public alike, his clowning brought national celebrity, enormous fees, a social circle that included Lord Byron and William Hazlitt and a biography written by the young Charles Dickens. But underneath the stage paint, Grimaldi struggled with depression, and his life was blighted by tragedy. This sparkling biography paints a vivid and colourful portrait of the superstar of Georgian pantomime, and of the wider theatrical scene in London at the time. Softcover, 433 pp. $20.00.

Something Written in the State of DenmarkSomething Written in the State of Denmark: An Actor's Year with the Royal Shakespeare Company
Keith Osborn
Following in the footsteps of Nick Asbury's best-sellling Exit Pursued by a Badger, actor and RSC alumnus Keith Osborn tells the story of the company's extraordinary 2008/9 season in Stratford and London. Softcover, 291 pp. $27.95.


Patti LuPone: A Memoir

Patti LuPone
The legendary Patti LuPone shares the highs and lows of her extraordinary career on the stage and in film and TV. The unalloyed joy she has found in performing ultimately becomes a love letter to the theatre. She does not hesitate to share the intimate story of her life both onstage and off with the humour and outspoken candor that have become her trademarks. Cloth, $29.99.


Beside Myself: An Actor's Life
Antony Sher
In this candid memoir, Antony Sher takes us to the heart of what it is to be an actor today, describing the journeys he undertakes in order to inhabit the roles for which he is famous. Utterly involving and often startlingly revelatory, Beside Myself will both inspire young actors and inform seasoned theatregoers. Softcover, 370 pp. $27.95.


My Life in PiecesMy Life in Pieces: An Alternative Autobiography
Simon Callow
In this autobiography, Simon Callow writes with his customary perceptiveness, wit and flair about his particular journey towards becoming an actor. But, this being an 'alternative' autobiography, he also writes about figures he did not meet but whose influence was vital to a full understanding of his craft: figures such as Stanislavsky and Michael Chekhov, Nureyev and Cocteau, Laughton and Welles. Hardcover, 436 pp. $50.00.


Must You Go? My Life with Harold Pinter Must You Go? My Life with Harold Pinter
Antonia Fraser
Based on Fraser's recollections and on diaries she kept since 1968, seven years before they spent the next 33 years together, this is a both a love story and an insightful account of Pinter's process of writing. Cloth, $29.95. November.

 

Sarah: The Life of Sarah Bernhardt Sarah: The Life of Sarah Bernhardt
Robert Gottlieb
Gottlieb's Sarah is the first English-language biography to appear in decades. Brilliantly, it tracks the trajectory through which an illegitimate -- and scandalous -- daughter of a courtesan transformed herself into the most famous actress who ever lived, and into a national icon, a symbol of France. Gottlieb once again shows his mastery of biographical research to reveal fresh ideas about our cultural ancestry. Cloth, $29.95.


The Gentleman Press Agent The Gentleman Press Agent: Fifty Years in the Theatrical Trenches with Merle Debuskey

Robert Simonson
He was Joe Papp's righthand man for thirty years and was the first mouthpiece for legendary nonprofits Circle in the Square and Lincoln Center Theater. He was the unseen player who fought Robert Moses, ensuring that Shakespeare in the Park remained free, and made sure How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying kept its title. He saved Zero Mostel's life, housed redbaiters' target John Henry Faulk, befriended the blacklisted, and manhandled George C. Scott and Mort Saul, all the while puffin on his pipe, banging away on his typewriter, and never seeming to break a sweat. Merle Debuskey was Broadway's last gentleman press agent. Hardcover, 278 pp. $29.99.


Michael Colgrass: Adventures of an American Composer	Michael Colgrass: Adventures of an American Composer
Edited by Neal and Ulla Colgrass
In this delightful collection of anecdotes, Michael Colgrass invites the reader into his private encounters with Igor Stravinsky, Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, Dizzy Gillespie and a host of other key figures in American music. Maverick to the core, Colgrass also writes about romancing a Cold War spy in Bucharest, composing a ballet overnight for the Joffrey Ballet, and playing a gig for a stripper that landed him a job in West Side Story. His anecdotes describe a pivotal era in American music that shaped this Pulitzer Prize-winning composer. A "must read" for music lovers. Softcover, 221 pp. $19.95.


When Marina Abramovic Dies: A BiographyWhen Marina Abramovic Dies: A Biography

James Westcott
This biography examines the extraordinary life and death-defying work of one of the most pioneering artists of her generation -- and one who is still at the forefront of contemporary art today. The author draws on his unprecedented access to the artist's archive, and hundreds of hours of interviews he conducted with the artist and the people closest to her. The result is a unique and vivid portrait of the charismatic self-proclaimed "grandmother of performance art." Hardcover, 328 pp. $33.95.


Bad Reputation: Performances, Essays, InterviewsBad Reputation: Performances, Essays, Interviews

Penny Arcade
A runaway at thirteen, a reform-school graduate at sixteen, a performer in the legendary New York Play-House of the Ridiculous at seventeen, and an escapee from Andy Warhol's Factory scene at nineteen, Penny Arcade emerged in the 1980s as a primal force on the New York art scene and an originator of what came to be called performance art. Arcade's brand of high camp and street-smart, punk-rock cabaret showmanship has been winning over international audiences ever since. This autobiographical trilogy of plays represents her at her best. Hardcover, 196 pp. $23.95.


Ira Gershwin: Selected Lyrics

Robert Kimball
Heartfelt, high-spirited, sparkling with vernacular eloquence, the lyrics of Ira Gershwin defined the spirit of an era and have lived on as part of the American tradition. In his classic collaboration with his brother George and in his later songs, Ira distilled ordinary American speech into indelible verse. Here are more than 80 lyrics embodying his wit, romance, and dazzling virtuosity. Hardcover, 169 pp. $25.00.


The Pantomime Life of Joseph GrimaldiThe Pantomime Life of Joseph Grimaldi

Andrew McConnell
Joseph Grimaldi (1778-1837) revolutionized the art of the clown and became a national celbrity. He rubbed shoulders with the likes of Lord Byron and Charles Dickens and transformed the art of on-stage comedy. Yet the outward joy and tomfoolery of his performances masked a dark and depressing personal life. Stott has written the definitive biography of the original 'sad clown' and offers a nuanced portrait of Georgian theatre in London. Riots, fires, and all! Hardcover, 433 pp. $42.00.


Free for All: Joe Papp, the Public, and the Greatest Theater Story Ever ToldFree for All: Joe Papp, the Public, and the Greatest Theater Story Ever Told

Kenneth Turan & Joseph Papp
In this oral history, we see how theatrical visionary Joe Papp overcame myriad obstacles to bring first-rate theatre productions to an urban audience with The New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theatre. Here, in all their backstage drama, are the accounts of how such landmark productions as Hair, No Place to Be Somebody, A Chorus Line, That Championship Season, Streamers, for colored girls ... , True West, The Normal Heart, and Aunt Dan and Lemon came into the world. Hardcover, 593 pp. $49.00.


Diaghilev and FriendsDiaghilev and Friends

Joy Melville
As the dominant father figure of the Ballets Russes from their inception in 1909, Diaghilev was admired, feared, loved, and hated in equal measure. Joy Melville's major new biography, published on the centenary of the foundation of the Ballet Russes, explores her subject's tempestuous and destructive affair with his protege Nijinsky, and his friendship with Jean Cocteau, searching all the while for Diaghilev the man, what motivated him, amused him, angered him and inspired him. Hardcover, 290 pp. $33.00.


Mainly On Directing Gypsy, West Side Story, and Other MusicalMainly On Directing Gypsy, West Side Story, and Other Musicals

by Arthur Laurents
Playwright, screenwriter, director, Arthur Laurents has been at the birth and rebirth of the American musical theatre's greatest creations for the past five decades. At the age of ninety one, he has just directed the wildly acclaimed new production of West Side Story on Broadway.
This book revels in the author's love for and understanding of, musical theatre, the people who make it and the audiences who attend.
He writes from experience, in rich detail about his work and the work of other great directors. There isn't a page in this book that doesn't entertain or give the reader a fascinating insight into the art of directing.
This is a book inspired by love, which we can be thankful for. Hardcover $28.95.


Memories: Celebrating 40 Years in the TheatreMemories: Celebrating 40 Years in the Theatre
Elaine Paige
In Memories, Elaine Paige takes us through her career from her earliest stage appearances to her starring roles in some of the biggest musicals of the past 40 years: Grease, Evita, Cats, Chess, and Sunset Boulevard. Fans of musical theatre will treasure this revealing, often funny, and personal book. Hardcover, 160 pp. $46.50.


Callas Kissed Me...Lenny Too! A Critic's MemoirCallas Kissed Me...Lenny Too! A Critic's Memoir
John Gruen
From his extraordinary beginnings--his mother went into labour while gambling at a French casino--to escaping Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and ultimately hoping to conquer New York City, John Gruen writes a subtly revealing self-portrait in Callas Kissed Me...Lenny Too! Hardcover, 327 pp. $32.00.


A Strange Eventful HistoryA Strange Eventful History
Michael Holroyd
Henry Irving and Ellen Terry were the king and queen of the Victorian stage. In his first major biography for fifteen years, Michael Holroyd explores their public and private lives, showing how their artistic legacy and lines of inheritance came to influence the modern world. A witty, elegant and brilliantly paced tragicomedy, and an absorbing chronicle of two great theatrical families, A Strange Eventful History is a masterwork of the biographer's art. Hardcover, 620 pp. $57.95.

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Sybil Thorndike: A Star of Life	Sybil Thorndike: A Star of Life
Jonathan Croall
Sybil Thorndike was one of the most remarkable women of the twentieth century. Loved and admired as a leading actress, she was also an ardent feminist, socialist and pacifist, who fought throughout her life for a better and more peaceful world. With unique access to hundreds of unpublished letters, Jonathan Croall has produced a sympathetic but critical biography of the vicar's daughter who became a theatrical legend. Hardcover, 584 pp. $33.00.


Letters of Noel Coward Letters of Noel Coward
Edited by Barry Day
Lavishly illustrated and annotated, this first and definitive collection of letters to and from Coward provides a divine portrait of an age, from the Blitz to the Ritz and beyond. Along with 191 rare photographs, these letters bring to life the people and events that shaped the twentieth century--and a remarkable man who made his own indelible mark at the heart of it. Softcover, 780 pp. $22.95.


Take Your Shirt Off and Leave: A Memoir of Near-Fame ExperiencesTake Your Shirt Off and Leave: A Memoir of Near-Fame Experiences
Nancy Balbirer
In this "memoir of near-fame experiences", Nancy Balbirer distills two decades of drama school, auditions, bit parts, cameos, and off-Broadway plays into an account by turns hilarious and horrifying. Her adventures are sometimes bizarre, sometimes painful, and always unforgettable. Softcover, 231 pp. $20.00.


Gypsy: The Art of the TeaseGypsy: The Art of the Tease

Rachel Shteir
The best introductory book on the magnificent Gypsy Rose Lee, a woman whose name come to connote the importance of the sexual gimmick and the eroticism of the undelivered promise. Softcover, 222 pp. $18.00.

Artists in ExileArtists in Exile
Joseph Horowitz
Decades of war and revolution in Europe forced an intellectual migration during the last century, relocating thousands of artists and thinkers to the United States. For many if Europe's premier performing artists, America proved to be a destination both strange and opportune. Artists in Exile explores the impact that these newcomers had on American cukturem and that America had on them. Softcover, 458 pp. $22.99.


Kander and EbbKander and Ebb

James Leve
John Kander and Fred Ebb, one of the greatest and longest lasting composer-lyricist partnerships in Broadway history, created some of the most memorable musicals of all time, including Chicago, Cabaret, and Zorba. This book examines their artistic accomplishments as individuals and as a team. Kander and Ebb is essential reading for students of Musical theatre and lovers of Kander and Ebb's songs and shows. Hardcover, 365 pp. $49.99.


Marina AbramovicMarina Abramovic

Kristine Stiles, Klaus Biesenbach & Chrissie Iles
Since the early 1970s, Marina Abramovic has pioneered the use of performance as a visual art form, exploring her physical and emotional limits in some of the most iconic works in contemporary art. Including a wealth of photographs, spanning her career, this volume explores Abramovic's life and art with a detailed survey, interview, essay, as well as some of the artist's own writings. Softcover, 158 pp. $59.95.


Ziegfeld: The Man Who Invented Show BusinessZiegfeld: The Man Who Invented Show Business

Ethan Mordden
In Ziegfeld: The Man Who Invented Show Business, Ethan Mordden re-creates the lost world of the Follies, a place of long-vanished beauty masterminded by one of the most inventive, ruthless, street-smart, and exacting men ever to fill a theatre on the Great White Way: Florenz Ziegfeld. Hardcover, $36.50.


Robertson Davies: A Portrait in MosaicRobertson Davies: A Portrait in Mosaic

Val Ross
After spending a year as a journalism fellow at Massey College, Val Ross decided to track down the people who knew Robertson Davies in order to collect their memories of the man. From the chorus of well over a hundred different voices come an oral biography that is surprising, witty, charming, sad, alarming and inspiring. Thes individual stories are skillfully and unobtrusively arranged to produce a fascinatinf portrait in mosaic. Hardcover, 385 pp. $36.99.


Put On A Happy Face: A Broadway MemoirPut On A Happy Face: A Broadway Memoir
Charles Strouse
In Put On A Happy Face, the man behind the hit shows Annie Get Your Gun and Bye Bye Birdie pulls back the curtain for a behind the scenes tour of his remarkable life and achievements. With a sparkling wit, Charles offers an inside glimpse of Broadway, Hollywood and beyond. With prose tuned to capture both soaring highs and operatic lows, the composer whose music has delighted audiences for decades now adds words to his repetoire. Hardcover, 326 pp.


OlivierOlivier

Anthony Holden
In this biography of Laurence Olivier, Anthony Holden creates a witty and penetrating portrait of one of the greatest screen actors of all time. In addition to exposing new revelations that have come to light since Olivier's death, Holden investigatesa the truth behind rumours of Olivier's alleged homosexual affairs with the likes of Marlon Brando and Danny Kaye, for a lonf time covered up by Olivier's family. Hardcover, 515 pp. $35.95.


Richard Burton: Prince of PlayersRichard Burton: Prince of Players
Michael Munn
Here is the full story of Richard Burton's life and remarkable career, revealed by a writer who knew him from 1968 up to the time they were together on Burton's last film in 1984. Hardcover, 260 pp. $39.95.

 

The Funniest One in the Room: The Lives and Legends of Del Close The Funniest One in the Room: The Lives and Legends of Del Close
Kim "Howard" Johnson
For nearly a half century, Del Close - cocreator of the Harold, director for the Second City, San Fancisco's the Committee, and the ImprovOlympic, and "house metaphysician" for Saturday Night Live - influenced improvisational theatre's greatest comedic talents. Del was never one to let the truth of his life stand in the way of a good story - and yet the truth is even more fascinating than the fiction. Hardcover, 422 pp. $29.95.


Let Me Stand AloneLet Me Stand Alone: The Journals of Rachel Corrie

Rachel Corrie
Let Me Stand Alone reveals the late activist Rachel Corrie's striking gifts as a poet and writer as she tells her story in her own words, from her precocious reflections as a young girl to her final emails. Her writing brings to life all that it means to come of age--a dawning sense of self, a thirst for one's own ideals, and an evolving connection to others near and far. Hardcover, 311 pp. $23.95.


David Mamet: A Life in the TheatreDavid Mamet: A Life in the Theatre

Ira Nadel
Breaking through David Mamet's notoriously private persona, Ira Nadel delivers a revealing and insightful biography of the celebrated playwright, director, and essayist. With verve and precision, Nadel delves deep into Mamet's complicated family life, his life before the theatre, and his early career. By using Mamet's plays and other writing as a guide, Nadel is able to find clarity in Mamet's extraordinary life. Hardcover, $29.95.


The Secret Life of HoudiniThe Secret Life of Houdini
William Kalush & Larry Sloman
Handcuff King. Escape Artist. International Superstar. Since his death eighty years ago, Harry Houdini's life has been chronicled in books, in film, and on television. Now, in this groundbreaking biography, renowned magic expert William Kalush and bestselling writer Larry Sloman team up to find the man behind the myth. Drawing from millions of pages of research, they describe in vivid detail the passions that drove Houdini to perform ever-more-dangerous feats, his secret life as a spy, and a pernicious plot to subvert his legacy. Softcover, 591 pp. $19.99.


Tales of a Theatrical GuruTales of a Theatrical Guru
Danny Newman
In Tales of a Theatrical Guru, legendary showman Danny Newman brings together thirty-three profiles of key arts people he's known during his amazing career. Ranging from hilarious to somber, these fascinating vignettes and anecdotes provide a backstage pass to insider stories from the dynamo who's kept the American arts thriving and a complete picture of a world that few have ever seen so intimately. Hardcover, 260 pp. $38.00.


Enchantress of NationsEnchantress of Nations: Pauline Viardot: Soprano, Muse and Lover
Michael Steen
Enchantress of Nations is a portrait of Pauline Viardot, one of music's most magnetic, colourful and brilliant female stars - but also a picturesque biography of tumultuous, artistic, ever-changing 19th-century Europe. Hardcover, 539 pp. $40.00.

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