Directing the Decades : Lessons from Fifty Years of Becoming a Director book cover
1st Edition

Directing the Decades
Lessons from Fifty Years of Becoming a Director

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after September 15, 2021
ISBN 9780367686550
September 15, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge
376 Pages 64 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Directing the Decades is an examination of the development of theatre in the UK since the revolution of the 1950s until the present day, viewed through the individual progress of a female director from a working-class background.

In this book, theatre history and lessons on directing are interwoven: the history is presented decade by decade, examining particular productions. Each historical theatre chapter is followed by a method chapter examining directorial influences and techniques predominant in each decade, as well as examining the working experience of the author in that decade. The book also includes practical advice on the directing process, including exercises, plans for rehearsals, and camera plans. Sue Dunderdale offers a unique perspective on the evolution of theatre directing in the UK, and her work, which served as the foundation of the creation of the Theatre Lab and Directing program at RADA, continues to influence working directors today.

Directing the Decades will be of interest to students and practitioners of Theatre Directing, Acting, and Theatre History, and to theatregoers with a consciousness of class and how it impacts on our lives.

The book also offers access to online transcripts of interviews with 16 practitioners, including Rufus Norris, Michelle Terry, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Indhu Rubasingham, Nadia Latif, and Nadia Fall.

Table of Contents

1. The 1950s – George and Joan and Crazy Horse, Chief of the Sue (sic).  2. Rehearsing with Joan  3. The 1960s – What Do You Want (If You Don’t Want Money)?  4. Action Before Words: Stanislavski, Littlewood, Grotowski  5. The 1970s - Brave New World 1  6. Finding Your Own Way (Devising and Adaptation)  7. The 1980s - Knocking on Doors, Right and Wrong  8. Women Working Together: Building and Breaking Out of the Ghetto  9. The 90s - Out of the Frying Pan, into the Fire?  10. Through the Camera’s Eye  11. The 2000s - Payback Time  12. How Do We Make Work with Actors? Physicalisation of Action  13. 2014 + In the End There Are Many Beginnings  14. Future Voices: Brave New World 2

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Sue Dunderdale came from a working-class family and studied Drama and English at Manchester University from 1966 to 1971. She has been a director ever since and, in that time, has founded the touring theatre company Pentabus, been the Artistic Director of the Soho Theatre (1984-88) and Greenwich Theatre (1988-89), a director of many television dramas and films, and the Head of MA in Text and Performance, MA in Directing, and MA Theatre Lab at RADA (2004-14). Since leaving RADA she has been a freelance director and writer and run workshops for directors and actors at the London Film School, Actors Studio, Shanghai University, and Head for Heights Theatre Company.


"A deeply personal confession of a long and tempestuous career in directing theatre and television; a brutally honest working-class manifesto which is as tumultuous and bohemian as any theatrical memoir you might have ever read. Dunderdale’s writing shifts from a diligent to a profane tone with constant bursts of unstoppable surprises, exercises and interviews with practitioners – Directing the Decades is never didactic, but full of important, necessary and topical insights on British Directing."

George Rodosthenous, University of Leeds, UK