Two theatrical personalities - one actor-manager, the other a theatre critic - bring together a collection of extracts and reminiscences in an illumination of the life of the theatre. This book illuminates from first to last the belief that the whole human story is a kind of play, a tragi-comedy in many episodes.
"Why do we go on doing it?" asks Bernard Miles in the opening sentence of this glorious book on the theatre. "What keeps us going through the crises, the anxieties, the grinding circuit of agents and auditions and one night stands?" In this book, he and John Trewin have brought together the strolling players, the actors and actresses, the singers, the playwrights, the audiences, the managers, the stage-hands, who share the world of the theatre. They are set before us in all their exuberance, their jealousies, their ill-temper, their stubborn devotion to a profession that is 'love in action'. Linked by Bernard Miles's reminiscences of his own experiences as actor, manager, director and author, and by John Trewin's scholarship (fruit of a long career as critic and historian), "Curtain Calls" is alive with laughter, affection and surprise. It illuminates from first to last the belief that "the whole human story is a kind of play, a tragi-comedy in many episodes with script still being written in the wings, the mammoth cast under-rehearsed, imperfectly made up, unsure of their cues and dressed in the wrong clothes; the stage-management either very inexperienced, inebriated or blatantly incompetent; and the Great Director tearing his hair in the stalls."
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Bernard Miles, Lord Miles of Blackfriars, actor, manager, director, dramatist, designer, stage-manager, recalls in his introduction how this book began 'on the road', while he was touring the provinces in the 1950s. His greatest pleasure in those days, once 'band call' was over on Monday mornings, was to head for the local antiquarian bookshop and spent a happy afternoon among the books. Over the years he built up a considerable library of 18th and 19th century memoirs, and although in the end he sold them all, and much more besides, to fund the Mermaid Theatre, he kept copies of his favourite passages and stories, and from them has created this splendid book. After preliminary ventures in St John's Wood and at the Royal Exchange, the Mermaid opened in Shakespeare's Blackfriars in 1959. Founded by Bernard Miles and his wife, the actress Josephine Wilson, it was the first theatre built in the City of London for 300 years. Bernard Miles was knighted in 1969, and was made a life peer ten years later, for services to the theatre. J.C. Trewin, theatre historian and London drama critic for over forty years, has written fifty books, and edited as many more. A fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and a former literary editor of The Observer, he has lectured frequently both at home and abroad - particularly in central Europe. A Cornishman, he now lives in Hampstead. He and his wife, the writer Wendy Trewin, have two sons, one in publishing (for some years literary editor of The Times), and one working in the theatre.
Curtain Calls by Bernard Miles
Used - Very Good
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