Index ~ Home

 

 

 

PLAY-MAKING

A Manual of Craftsmanship

by William Archer


 

With a New Introduction to the Dover Edition

by John Gassner

Sterling Professor of Playwriting and Dramatic Literature, Yale University


 


PREFATORY NOTE

This book is, to all intents and purposes, entirely new. No considerable portion of it has already appeared, although here and there short passages and phrases from articles of bygone years are embedded--indistinguishably, I hope--in the text. I have tried, wherever it was possible, to select my examples from published plays, which the student may read for himself, and so check my observations. One reason, among others, which led me to go to Shakespeare and Ibsen for so many of my illustrations, was that they are the most generally accessible of playwrights.

If the reader should feel that I have been over lavish in the use of footnotes, I have two excuses to allege. The first is that more than half of the following chapters were written on shipboard and in places where I had scarcely any books to refer to; so that a great deal had to be left to subsequent enquiry and revision. The second is that several of my friends, dramatists and others, have been kind enough to read my manuscript, and to suggest valuable afterthoughts.

LONDON

January, 1912

To

Brander Matthews

Guide Philosopher and Friend


  BOOK I
  PROLOGUE

  CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTORY

  CHAPTER II

THE CHOICE OF A THEME

  CHAPTER III 

DRAMATIC AND UNDRAMATIC

  CHAPTER IV

THE ROUTINE OF COMPOSITION

  CHAPTER V

DRAMATIS PERSONAE



  BOOK II
  THE BEGINNING

  CHAPTER VI

THE POINT OF ATTACK: SHAKESPEARE AND IBSEN

  CHAPTER VII

EXPOSITION: ITS END AND ITS MEANS

  CHAPTER VIII 

THE FIRST ACT

  CHAPTER IX

CURIOSITY" AND "INTEREST"

  CHAPTER X

FORESHADOWING, NOT FORESTALLING



  BOOK III
  THE MIDDLE

  CHAPTER XI

TENSION AND ITS SUSPENSION

  CHAPTER XII

PREPARATION: THE FINGER-POST

  CHAPTER XIII 

THE OBLIGATORY SCENE

  CHAPTER XIV

THE PERIPETY

  CHAPTER XV

PROBABILITY, CHANCE AND COINCIDENCE

  CHAPTER XVI

LOGIC

  CHAPTER XVII

KEEPING A SECRET



  BOOK IV
  THE END

  CHAPTER XVIII

CLIMAX AND ANTICLIMAX

  CHAPTER XIX

CONVERSION

  CHAPTER XX

BLIND-ALLEY THEMES--AND OTHERS

  CHAPTER XXI

THE FULL CLOSE



  BOOK V
  EPILOGUE

  CHAPTER XXII

CHARACTER AND PSYCHOLOGY

  CHAPTER XXIII

DIALOGUE AND DETAILS