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The Necessity of Theater: The Art of Watching and Being Watched
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The Necessity of Theater: The Art of Watching and Being Watched

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  32 ratings  ·  9 reviews
What is unique and essential about theater? What separates it from other arts? Do we need "theater" in some fundamental way? The art of theater, as Paul Woodruff says in this elegant and unique book, is as necessary - and as powerful - as language itself. Defining theater broadly, including sporting events and social rituals, he treats traditional theater as only one possi...more
Unknown Binding, 272 pages
Published May 14th 2014 by Not Avail (first published January 1st 2008)
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Woodruff, a professor of philosophy and classics at UT-Austin, has written his very own poetics, exploring why theatre is very much a necessity in the 21st century. It is necessary, because it satisfies our need to care about other people. He writes: "You pay attention because you care, and paying attention allows you to care. We will become better people if we become accustomed to paying attention to other people—to be good and caring watchers." But he also teases out the differences between ce...more
I hate it when there's a book that has something really interesting to say, and the way it's written is so unbelievably dry that I have to force myself to finish. This guy is really insightful. But the experience of reading this book was like taking medicine.
Nearly every morning for two months I nibbled through this, on the porch at first and finally inside when the temperatures dropped, a devout student of the strangeness of this book-length definition of theater --
"human action worth watching" -- and bravo for it all.

This is not prose I've known; and I can see why other reviewers may dismiss it as unreadable. It can be, but mostly what slowed me was my unfamiliarity with ancient Greek philosophy and the origins of art theater. Like reading in a fo...more
I hated reading this book for class. The writer seems like he loves hearing himself talk. He'll go on and on about nothing and talk little about the facts. And then he keeps jumping from one thing to the other. If you have to read this for theater art in college I feel sorry for you too.
I reviewed this book as a possible text choice for TA 110: Theater Appreciation. I'm very tempted to use this rather than a traditional text simply because it forces the reader to engage on a much more critical level -- there is an assumption that the reader (and the theater viewer) is going to choose to do a good job of the work. I can supply the basics of what theater is and how it functions, but this book goes so far beyond that; because Woodruff is a philosopher and not a theater practitione...more
I learned so much. SO much. I think this book should be required for all university students. It teaches about how to be better human beings, and how theater and the arts teach us to be better human beings and SO MUCH MORE!
This book also teaches so many gospel principles, even if the author isn't LDS. A really fascinating read, that also makes you think.

(Although I still think film is a form of theater, even if he does bring up some good points, hence the reason I say "form" of theater).
Jun 25, 2012 Ann marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
A friend gave me this book saying he couldn't get into it but thought perhaps I could. We shall see.
Definitely some good thoughts on theatre, but overall a little disappointing and convoluted.
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