Key Concepts in Drama and Performance
by Kenneth Pickering
May 2010

Aimed at undergraduates in drama, theatre or performing arts, Pickering’s Key Concepts describes itself as ‘an informative and accessible guide to the subject’. Each of the five chapters (textual concepts, performance concepts, production concepts, staging concepts, critical concepts) begins with a brief introduction to the concepts it embraces, followed by an alphabetical listing of those concepts. For the most part, it does its job nicely, and is a genuinely useful reference book. But it is sometimes hard to understand the entry allocations under the given chapter separations: what, for example, makes ‘carnival’ a performance concept, and therefore in chapter two,’ site-specific’ a production concept (chapter three) and ‘street theatre’ a staging concept (chapter four)? Why is absurdism in chapter one and surrealism in chapter four? Wouldn’t it be easier just to place everything alphabetically? And there is far too great an emphasis on playwright-led theatre for this to be a truly comprehensive reference work: the entry on ‘dramaturg’, for example, gives no indication of any potential role within physical, devised or visual theatre. But interesting and informative, so worth having on the bookshelf.

Dorothy Max Prior

Dorothy Max Prior

Dorothy Max Prior is the editor of Total Theatre Magazine, and is also a performer, writer, dramaturg and choreographer working in theatre, dance, live art and street arts. Under her alter-ego Dorothy’s Shoes she creates performance work that both honours and usurps the traditions of popular dance and theatre, and plays with the relationship between performer and audience. Much of her work is sited in public spaces or in venues other than regular theatres. She is also co-director of street theatre/dance company The Ragroof Players.

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