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A Director Prepares: Seven Essays on Art and Theatre

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  935 ratings  ·  53 reviews
A Director Prepares is a thought-provoking examination of the challenges of making theatre. In it, Anne Bogart speaks candidly and with wisdom of the courage required to create 'art with great presence'.
Each chapter tackles one of the seven major areas Bogart has identified as both potential partner and potential obstacle to art-making. They are Violence; Memory; Terror;
Paperback, 168 pages
Published May 24th 2001 by Routledge
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Colin Bruce Anthes
Feb 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Anne Bogart has a way of stealing all the good ideas about art one almost manages to have, and articulating them better than one could ever hope to. She's just wonderful.
I often return to her writings. There is always a different section that happens to be just what I need to work on in the moment. This time round it was: "The enemy of art is asumption."
Dec 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dramatic-crit
This isn't just a book for directors. It's a book for artists and anyone who does anything creative. Anne examines the act of creation in seven essays, each of which examines a vital element of creativity. She doesn't give very many clear answers, but that's not what a book about creativity should do. Instead, she illuminates and elucidates the central aspects of the creative process, and in doing so, inspires the reader to new avenues of creativity.
Chuck O'Connor
Nov 05, 2011 rated it it was ok
Bogart needs to stick to sharing her experiences in an encouraging way, not argue by analogy to biology, neurology or physics. When she is encouraging the reader based on her personal journey there is insight, but when she tries to systemize this experience with theoretical rigor she advances sophistry rather than knowledge. I don't recommend this to people who are seeking working knowledge, but those who need a little pep talk, it is okay.
Patrick Grizzard
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
While it does contain practical advice for directors, I would recommend this book to any performer or artist. One of the recurring themes is embracing doubt, uncertainty, and resistance and learning to work with and through those forces. Anne Bogart is a genius and I expect this is a book I'll be returning to again and again (along with Mamet's True and False) when I need a reminder that being an artist is *fucking hard* and making work with integrity often requires, above all else, courage.
Jan 18, 2009 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: people who understand why "a choice to commit to an action is violence in essence. "
The back of this book says the contents are "a handbook, a manifesto, and a bible." It turned out to be mostly a manifesto, sometimes a bible, and not at all a handbook.

It was vague, grating, and, ultimately, a waste of my time.

I don't doubt Bogart's prowess and knowledge: there are moments of stunning revelation in this book. Unfortunately, they are completely lost on anyone looking for a real handbook on how to prepare for directing a play.

Luke Reynolds
Actual rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Although there were interesting factoids and great pieces of advice, I was expecting Bogart's collection of essays to involve more on directing craft than personal experience.

LGBTQ+ rep includes Bogart, who is queer and married to a woman.
Greg Heaton
Jun 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is the first college textbook I've reread. The Bullshit Alarm went off several times, but there's some interesting ideas in there amid all all the psuedo-spiritual stuff.
Karen Jean Martinson
Feb 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: research
Rereading this today for class. So inspiring.
Oct 01, 2019 rated it liked it
"Art, like life, is understood through experience, not explanations. As theatre artists, we cannot create an experience for an audience; rather, our job is to set up the circumstances in which an experience might occur."

"The enemy of art is assumption: the assumption that you know what you are doing, the assumption that you know how to walk and how to talk, the assumption that what you 'mean' will mean the same thing to those who receive it. The instant you make an assumption about who the audie
Dominique Jones
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A Director Prepares by Anne Bogart was one the first of the three books that I have read and I have got to say that this may be one of my favorite books that I have read recently. The learnings in this text are told from the perspective of a director, but they can be applied into many different mediums and aspects of life. As I was reading this, I thought of several different projects over the years where I could have applied the concepts or my thought process applied it instinctively. Overall i ...more
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In my world, there are two kinds of good books on directing: Those that challenge me, and those that affirm me. This one does both. So many things, I found myself nodding along and saying, "Oh, I do that! How amazing that Anne Bogart does that, too!" and other things, I thought, "Hm...should definitely try that," or "I hadn't looked at it that way before."

I'll definitely be rereading this one every few years. Lots of good reminders.
Julian Munds
This is one of the finest books on theatre I have ever read. Her book is short, practical, and doesn't rely on complex metaphors, complex semi-pseudo-scholastic speak; it is just a book about creation, doing the work while not relying on obtuse psychosocial abuse like the American Method, and completing it. Just marvelous. Everyone should read it.
Eliot Fiend
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
brilliant. wish i'd read this 10 years ago.
Dec 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
"Out of the almost uncontrollable chaos of life, I could create a place of beauty and a sense of community. In the most terrible depths of doubt and difficulty, I found encouragement and inspiration in collaborating with others. We have been able to create an atmosphere of grace, intensity and love. I have created a refuge for myself, for actors and for audiences through the metaphor that is theatre."

Some really valuable thoughts on art and theatre making. The most useful parts for me were thos
Aug 01, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: craft-of-writing
I saw the SITI production of Midsummer Night's Dream in 2003, and it was the best I have seen, and I've seen several dozen versions. Bought her book, started reading, moved to Portland, forgot about book. Last night, looking for something to read (in denial that recent Baxter book is over) and thought about John Casey comment that writing is like acting, and like directing, found this book on bottom shelf with other theatre books, started reading and wow.
Oct 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Amazing insight into the political life of theatre over the last century as well as the reasons why we make theatre at all. It is also a nice departure from manuals about technique which only go so far- a book is a book after all. This actually uses the medium of a book beautifully and celebrates the ideas and poetry of performance. A must read for any one remotely interested in performance today.
Dec 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Okay, I loved this book more than I thought I would. I was really just looking for insight into theatre directors, but what I got was insight into art and life and the creative process and also the theatre, but I felt that was sort of secondary. I checked this out from the library, but I will definitely be buying a copy to refer back to. (I am giving it four stars instead of five because I am a pedantic dick, basically, and the writing is sort of uneven in places.)
May 29, 2015 rated it liked it
There was a point when I didn't think I'd finish this book because it seemed too abstract in its approach to the subject, too academic. Where were the things that would be of use to a director wanting help in his or her work?
Thankfully the second half of the book improves in this regard and there are some good points and helpful points made. I'd still have liked a book that was less general and more particular, but the good moments have been worth noting.
Feb 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
Nice because she doesn't get all tart and whoopity about theory. It is what it Is like that. A sort of balance. Without anything beaded or dangly or otherwise conference-like, no little gnomes sidewise crows feet sneer. Just a little bit about and a little on and over the top of a convertible couch.
Dec 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Completely useless if you're actually looking for a hands-on guide to directing, but a brilliant commentary on theater and art, not to mention something of a memoir of Ms. Bogart's growth as a director. Highly recommended for any looking to broaden his/her perspective on the world of theater and work as an artist.
Kari Barclay
Jul 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: orals-directing
The work is an inspiring piece with a bunch of fascinating anecdotes from Anne Bogart's life. A Director Prepares didn't preach one methodology but rather encourages me to craft my own path in the arts. The text is vague and platitudinous at times but is at its best when it includes Anne Bogart's personal stories.
Oct 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: phd-studies
Bogart's life in theatre and around world provides plenty of material to reflect upon as the director enters the auditorium as rehearsal begins. Knowing what to do and how "it" will be done is a balancing act that gets succinctly summarized in what appears to be the prototypical listicle. Perhaps each chapter has some relation to Shakespeare ol' chestnut, Seven Age of Man?
Jun 15, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: theatre people/arty people
While I found the annecdotal style of this book engaging, I was hoping it would be a little less abstract. I generally find Anne's work really compelling, but I felt she didn't explore all of the subjects as deeply as I would have liked. It's short, though, and not a bad read.
Dec 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
Far superior to her recent production of Hotel Cassiopeia and more intimate a mind fuck than Bobrauschenbergamerica, the text could have used a dollop of Charles L. Mee-sauce, but we can't have everything.
Jan 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theater
This is one of my favorite directing books.
It's not a how-to, it's rather a why-you-should.

I'd recommend it to any director who is looking to expand their existing skills/passion/love of theater.
Jan 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Big fan of this artist as a writer - she asks brilliant questions and opens up the process of directing in a very interesting way. Oddly, I think the book could actually benefit a business crowd in her ways of exploring thinking creatively.
Sep 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
this book is brilliant...most directing books are self-congratulating, masturbatory bullshit, and this one is insightful, intelligent, and actually useful! inspirational for other artists, as well, though definitely theatre focused.
Sep 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Perceptive. Persuasive. Historical. She's a gem, and was a huge factor in my acting training in the mid-eighties. This material is so grounded. Acting, directing, composition for the twenty-first century.
Fluffy Singler
Aug 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I teach with this book every semester, whether I am teaching community education in theatre or whether I am teaching a beginning theatre class. It is lively and from personal experience and in that way, it also imparts what the stakes are in theatre.
Mar 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theatre-books

Every sentence is a gem, I swear. This book taught me so much about what it means to make art in the theatre. I caught myself wanting to underline every story and dog ear almost every page.

Highly recommended.
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Anne Bogart is the Artistic Director of SITI Company, which she founded with Japanese director Tadashi Suzuki in 1992. She is a Professor at Columbia University where she runs the Graduate Directing Program. Works with SITI include Café Variations, Trojan Women, American Document, Antigone, Under Construction, Freshwater, Who Do You Think You Are, Radio Macbeth, Hotel Cassiopeia, Death and the Plo ...more

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