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If you’re looking to buy gifts for theatre lovers, then you can’t go wrong with a great theatre book. Whether they’re behind-the-scenes photo collections or collections of beloved scripts, theatre books can be permanent mementos of the performing arts.
Here are ten books about theatre and dance that could make an excellent gift this year.
(1) Performance of the Century: 100 Years of Actors' Equity Association and the Rise of Professional American Theater by Robert Simonson
It's impossible to understand the American theatre without understanding the history of Actors' Equity. With gorgeous photos and scores of interviews with professional actors, this book delivers a fascinating look at how performers work and thrive in this country. [BUY HERE]
(2) Playbill: At This Theatre (Revised and Updated Edition) by Louis Botto and Robert Viagas If you've ever been to Broadway, then you might have noticed the "At This Theatre" article in your Playbill, telling you about all the shows that have played in a Broadway theatre. This book expands on those articles, providing even more information about the history of each theatre on the Great White Way. [BUY HERE]
(3) The August Wilson Century Cycle If you know someone who has enjoyed the current Off Broadway revival of August Wilson's The Piano Lesson, then they might love this boxed set of August Wilson's ten major plays. Each one explores a different decade in the African-American experience in the 20th century, and each one demonstrates why Wilson is one of the nation's most celebrated playwrights. [BUY HERE]
(4) Two plays by Quiara Alegria Hudes Second Stage has just begun performances of Hudes' play Water By the Spoonful, which won this year's Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It's the second play in a trilogy that began with 2007's Elliot, A Soldier's Fugue, and both follow a family that explores the impact of military service on American soldiers. [BUY ELLIOT HERE.] [BUY SPOONFUL HERE.]
(5) Broadway Musicals: From the Pages of the New York Times by Ben Brantley Brantley, the Times' chief theatre critic, uses the paper's extensive reviews and photos to launch a conversation about the history of Broadway musicals. He adds original essays to deepen the context of what was in the paper. [BUY HERE]
(6) Broadway Musicals: Revised and Updated: The 101 Greatest Shows of All Time by Frank Bloom and Frank Vlastnik This popular book offers another take on musical theatre history, dedicating a chapter to each selected show that includes photos, commentary, and historical notes about major performers and creators. [BUY HERE]
(7) Historic Photos of Broadway: New York Theater 1850-1970 by Leonard Jacobs Using photos from the New York Public Library's Billy Rose Theatre Collection, this lush coffee table book delivers a remarkable visual tour of Broadway's history, reaching as far back as the days before the Civil War. [BUY HERE]
(8) Dance Anecdotes: Stories from the Worlds of Ballet, Broadway, the Ballroom, and Modern Dance by Mindy Aloff Dance critic Aloff collects stories and memories from some of the history's most fascinating dancers. Everyone from Ballanchine to Nijinsky to Graham is represented. [BUY HERE]
(9) The Broadway Musical Quiz Book by Laura Frankos This book of quizzes about musical theatre could be the perfect gift for a performer who needs something to do in the green room during rehearsal breaks. It could also delight anyone who loves musicals AND trivia... and who doesn't? [BUY HERE]
(10) Outrageous Fortune: The Life And Times of the New American Play by Todd London with Ben Pesner and Zannie Giraud Voss If you know a playwright, then this book about the economics of American playwriting could be invaluable. Published by TDF, it combines years of research with hundreds of interviews to explore how playwrights can (and can't) survive in the modern American theatre. [BUY HERE]