By Athene Seyler, Stephen Haggard

“a paintings at the paintings and craft of comedy as vital in its personal means as works by way of Stanislavski and Chekhov” — Oxford Theatre Companion

In 1939, a tender, green actor wrote to a well-known actress of his acquaintance, soliciting for recommendation on taking part in comedy. She answered enthusiastically, they usually corresponded variously over the subsequent 12 months. The Craft of Comedy, a checklist of those exchanges, quickly emerged as one of many few vintage texts within the box of comedy acting.

This significant re-creation takes a super publication and makes it larger. Editor Robert Barton has devised huge supplementary fabric, including:

  • An creation to the correspondents, the tradition of the time, and the evolution in their book;
  • Summaries, definitions, and routines and perform scenes for readers wishing to discover Athene Seyler’s priceless advice;
  • Photographs, extra essays by means of Seyler, and a consultant to simply accessed videos of her performing.

Seyler’s lucid assistance, and Barton’s scrupulous editorship, make sure this mythical work’s rightful prestige is restored: as one of many nice sensible publications to the craft of comedy, and an important source for actors and scholars of appearing.

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Extra resources for The Craft of Comedy: The 21st Century Edition

Example text

Personality is, after all, the external expression of one’s mind and soul; and as these are moulded and enlarged by experience, so one’s personality may well become more comprehensive until it includes a humorous side. I had an interesting experience a few years ago of working with an actor who had made a great impression in sinister parts. He essayed several comedy roles during the time we played together; in one or two he was extremely successful, but he utterly failed in one lightcomedy part.

Success will be his if the audience believes. But what kind of success? Will it be the success the author intended? I think the answer is: not necessarily. As you yourself say, an actor can ‘twist a serious character in a way that will cause laughter’; and as this seems to me a very favourite trick on the stage I should like to put in a word for the author who, I submit, does know how his characters ought to be played and who ought therefore to be allowed to choose the emphasis to be put upon them.

Are you really referring to technique – to the conveying of a part when you use this expression? Distortion presents no difficulties. One sees it every day in the newspapers. It is the art of 44 JUST DO IT convincing the public that the false is true. Over-emphasis, I suppose, is making an emotional mountain out of a colloquial molehill; and under-emphasis is presumably what is called in the theatre ‘throwing away’. Surprise explains itself. I suppose that anything that is irrelevant or divorced from its context, like suddenly shouting or bursting into tears for no reason, would cause comic surprise.

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