In How Plays Work, distinguished playwright David Edgar examines the mechanisms and techniques which dramatists throughout the ages have employed to structure their plays and to express their meaning.
Written for playwrights and playgoers alike, Edgar's analysis starts with the building blocks of whole plays--plot, character-creation, genre and structure--and moves on to scenes and devices. He shows how plays share a common architecture without which the uniqueness of their authors' vision would be invisible.
How Plays Work is both a masterclass for playwrights and playmakers and a fascinating guide to the anatomy of drama. In this revised edition, Edgar brings the book right up to date with analyses of many recent plays, as well as explorations of emerging genres and new innovations in playwriting practice.
David Edgar is a leading UK playwright, author of many original plays and adaptations. He also pioneered the teaching of playwriting in the UK, founding the Playwriting Studies course at Birmingham University in 1989.His plays include: A Christmas Carol, adapted from the story by Charles Dickens (Royal Shakespeare Company, 2017); If Only (Minerva Theatre, Chichester, 2013); Written on the Heart (RSC, 2011); a version of Ibsen's The Master Builder (Minerva Theatre, Chichester, 2013); Arthur and George, adapted from the novel by Julian Barnes (Birmingham Rep & Nottingham Playhouse, 2010); Testing the Echo (Out of Joint, 2008); A Time to Keep, written with Stephanie Dale (Dorchester Community Players, 2007); Playing With Fire (National Theatre, 2005); Continental Divide (US, 2003); The Prisoner's Dilemma (RSC, 2001); Albert Speer, based on Gitta Sereny's biography of Hitler's architect (National Theatre, 2000); Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde (Birmingham Rep, 1996); Pentecost (RSC, 1994); The Shape of the Table (National Theatre, 1990); Maydays (1983); The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (RSC, 1980); Destiny (1976); and The National Interest (1971).His work for television includes adaptations of Destiny, screened by the BBC in 1978, The Jail Diary of Albie Sachs, televised by the BBC in 1981, and The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, televised by Channel 4 in 1982, as well as the plays Buying a Landslide (1992) and Vote for Them (1989). He is also the author of the radio plays Ecclesiastes (1977), A Movie Starring Me (1991), Talking to Mars (1996) and an adaptation of Eve Brook's novel The Secret Parts (2000). He wrote the screenplay for the film Lady Jane (1986).He is the author of How Plays Work (Nick Hern Books, 2009; revised 2021) and The Second Time as Farce: Reflections on the Drama of Mean Times (1988), and editor of The State of Play: Playwrights on Playwriting (2000). He was Resident Playwright at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 1974-5 (Board Member from 1985), Fellow in Creative Writing at Leeds Polytechnic, Bicentennial Arts Fellow (US) (1978-9) and was Literary Consultant for the RSC (1984-8, Honorary Associate Artist, 1989). He founded the University of Birmingham's MA in Playwriting Studies in 1989 and was its director until 1999. He was appointed Professor of Playwriting Studies in 1995.