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      The Viewpoints Book: A Practical Guide to Viewpoints and Composition
      Eckard, Bonnie JeanView Profile. Theatre Topics16.2 (Sep 2006): 194-195.
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      The Viewpoints Book: A Practical Guide to Viewpoints and Composition. By Anne Bogart and Tina Landau. New York: Theatre Communications Group, 2005; pp. xi + 224. $16.95 paper. Distinguished directors Anne Bogart and Tina Landau have authored the long-awaited book on Viewpoints Training and Composition, bringing their vast knowledge and creative ideas for applying these tools to actor training, rehearsal, and new play development. This is a hands-on book for acting teachers and any theatre practitioner interested in exploring Viewpoints and Composition. It will be especially welcomed by theatre artists and teachers who have practiced Viewpoints and want to deepen their understanding. Mary Overlie initially introduced Anne Bogart to Viewpoints in 1979 when both were teaching at NYUs Experimental Theatre Wing. Overlie created the initial Viewpoints (Space, Shape, Time, Emotion, Movement, and Story) as principles for her choreography and teaching. Bogart saw the potential for applying this vocabulary to the theatrical stage and began to incorporate Viewpoints into her teaching and directing. In 1987, Landau was introduced to Viewpoints when she and Bogart met while working at the American Repertory Theatre. Over time, six Viewpoints evolved into nine and vocal Viewpoints were introduced. Landau and Bogart have continued their explorations of Viewpoints and Composition independently, Bogart as director of the SITI Company, and Landau in her work as director, playwright and member of the Stcppenwolf Theatre Company. In this new book, the authors write collaboratively, sharing their individual experiences while providing the reader with an organized, practical, and inspirational guide to teaching and practicing Viewpoints and Composition. The Viewpoints Book is the first extensive history and philosophical study of Viewpoints and Composition, and the first publication to provide a practical step-by-step guide to enable theatre artists to practice and utilize these techniques. Previously, students of Viewpoints had few written resources. The 1995 documentation of the 19th Annual Classics in Context Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville, celebrating Anne Bogart, featured Landaus definition of Viewpoints and Composition and an explanation of how they might be used in rehearsals. More recent articles have explored working with Viewpoints in the directing process, most notably Joan Herrington’s “Directing with the Viewpoints” in Theatre Topics 10.2 (2000). But Bogart and Landau’s new book will most certainly be seen as the authoritative resource on the use of these key techniques. The book begins with a history of Viewpoints and Composition, definitions of each, and a brief but comprehensive discussion of traditional American actor training processes. The authors trace the evolution of the Viewpoints from the mid-1960s, specifically in the development of postmodern dance that strove to “liberate choreography from psychology and conventional drama” (4). Bogart and Landau argue that the traditional emphasis on psychological approaches to actor training resulting from the Americanization of the Stanislavski system is effective for television and film but confining for the stage. They argue that Viewpoints and Composition open the way for theatre artists to make choices based on awareness of time and space, not limited to character psychology. Bogart and Landau address the need for ongoing training for the actor, similar to the dancer’s barre work or the musician’s scales, and maintain that Viewpoints and Composition can provide a daily practice to keep creativity alive and maintain cohesive ensembles. Finally, they argue against the actor’s urge to please the director. Viewpoints and Composition challenge the traditional director / actor hierarchy by providing ways to collectively address questions that arise in rehearsals through a collaborative process that gives all the participants ownership in the outcome. Bogart and Landau then provide a step-by-step practical guide to the Viewpoints. The authors do not demand an absolute adherence to their progression, stressing that Viewpoints is an open process rather than closed methodology. Beginning exercises are specifically designed to help practitioners identify and practice each of the Viewpoints individually. Additional chapters, “Putting the Individual Viewpoints Together,” “Group Improvisations,” and “Working with Music,” deepen the practice and suggest further possibilities of Viewpoints exploration. The chapter “Starting to Speak ” introduces the vocal Viewpoints along with exercises using spoken dialogue. The second half of the book focuses on Composition and guides the reader through practical exercises for its application to the creative process. Composition provides inspiration for creating new work as well as a methodology to explore Source Work for previously written material. Source Work is defined as the original impulse behind the work as well as the work itself. Borrowing from film terminology, the initial starting point for Composition is montage, a way of putting images together incorporating juxtaposition, contrast, rhythm, and story. Participants are encouraged to understand the difference between descriptive and expressive staging and create a living piece of theatre within a limited period of time. The authors are firm believers in giving participants “enough time in the Composition assignment to create something they can own and repeat (so it’s not just improv and accident), but not so much time that they can start to think or judge even for an instant” (138). The book emphasizes the ways that Viewpoints and Composition training can be applied in more traditional theatre settings. Once actors are trained in Viewpoints, the director is able to use the vocabulary as a kind of shorthand to adjust spatial relationships, tempos, relationship to the architecture, etc. Bogart and Landau include practical guidance for using Viewpoints and Composition in rehearsals to build ensemble and discover the physical vocabulary for the play, as well as to stage scenes and transitions. With The Viewpoints Book, Anne Bogart and Tina Landau have removed the mystery surrounding Viewpoints and Composition, and opened the way for practical application of the vocabulary and principles in all aspects of stage performance. By challenging us to create theatrical poetry and metaphors onstage through explorations of time and space, the authors provide practical tools to move the theatre beyond the confines of psychological realism that have dominated the American theatre over the past century. AuthorAffiliation
      BONNIE JEAN ECKARD Arizona State University Word count: 991
      Copyright Johns Hopkins University Press Sep 2006 Indexing (details)
      Cite
      Title The Viewpoints Book: A Practical Guide to Viewpoints and Composition
      Author Eckard, Bonnie Jean
      Publication title Theatre Topics
      Volume 16
      Issue 2
      Pages 194-195
      Number of pages 2
      Publication year 2006
      Publication date Sep 2006
      Year 2006
      Section Book Reviews
      Publisher Johns Hopkins University Press
      Place of publication Baltimore
      Country of publication United States
      Publication subject Theater
      ISSN 10548378
      Source type Scholarly Journals
      Language of publication English
      Document type General Information
      ProQuest document ID 218636535
      Document URL http://ezproxy.slv.vic.gov.au/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/218636535?accountid=13905
      Copyright Copyright Johns Hopkins University Press Sep 2006
      Last updated 2011-08-30
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    • fghjkltyuiops

      Literally not a single one of these applied to my all-girls public school experience. Where’s the detentions for your school skirt being too short? Or the principal trying to convince the outside world you were actually a private school, hence the need for a blazer and long skirts? What about the trips to the bathroom just to re-do your make up… for no one because it’s an all girls school? And getting changed into sport uniform in the halls in front of your locker because, ain’t nobody got time to walk downstairs to the change-room! And if you had a group of friends outside of school with a y-chromosome, you instantly became the coolest person ever. And the bitchiness… how did the bitchiness of a public girls school not make the list?

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