Theater books of 2017 to read in 2018

Below is a list of theater books, most of which were published in 2017. Click on the titles to find more information and to purchase these books, grouped under four categories: 1. Scripts, including all the plays that are scheduled to be produced on Broadway in Spring, 2018. 2. Coffee Table Books. 3. Theater History, Biography, Criticism. 4. For Fans and For Fun

Please also check out 15 great books about the theater, a list compiled with the assist of readers of New York Theater

1. Scripts

Scripts of plays coming to Broadway in 2018, listed alphabetically:

(Check out Broadway Spring 2018 Preview Guide: A Season of Strong Women)

Angels in America by Tony Kushner

Boys in the Band by Matt Crowley

Children of a Lesser God by Mark Medoff

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2

The Iceman Cometh by Eugene O’Neill

Lobby Hero by Kenneth Lonergan

Saint Joan by George Bernard Shaw

Straight White Men by Young Jean Lee

Three Tall Women by Edward Albee

Travesties by Tom Stoppard

Also check out forthcoming Off-Broadway plays:

Yerma

 

Scripts of plays that were on a New York stage in 2017:

Building the Wall: The Play and Commentary

The play by Pulitzer winning playwright Robert Schenkkan that imagines what Trump has done to the United States by 2019. (My review   of the production in New York, which I liked more than many New York critics. But it was both a popular and critical favorite in productions across the country.

Oslo by J.T. Rogers

The Tony-winning best play of 2017 tells the behind-the-scenes story of the  1993 Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization. (My review of the NY production.)

Sweat by Lynn Nottage

The 2017 Pulitzer Prize winner for drama about people who hang out in a bar in Reading, Pennsylvania, which  offers devastating look at social and economic breakdown, told not with rants or statistics, but through a riveting tale about good people in a bad situation. (My review)

Women of a Certain Age by Richard Nelson

The play takes place (and was performed) on Election Night, 2016, and is the last of the Gabriels trilogy, which chronicled a year in the life of a family from Upstate New York. (My review.)

Two favorites, published in 2017, produced earlier:

Mr. Burns and Other Plays by Anne Washburn

The Motherfucker with the Hat by Stephen Adly Guirgis

Also check out The 50 Best Plays of the Last 100 Years (and 10 Best Musicals)

2. Coffee Table Books

Dear Evan Hansen: Through the Window

includes the annotated libretto. (My review of the book)

Stage to Stage

My Journey to Broadway by Josh Groban

Ellen Stewart Presents:

Fifty Years of La MaMa Experimental Theatre

This is a work of history (and so could be listed under the next section), but it is also amply illustrated with show posters from the landmark Off-Off Broadway theater.

Sugar, Butter, Flour: The Waitress Pie Book,

recipes

3.History,Biography/Memoir, Criticism

100 Greatest American Plays

Thomas S. Hischak, a prolific playwright, historian and professor of theater at SUNY Cortland, has put together what amounts to a work of historical reference, rather than critical analysis, in this list of plays both well-known and obscure, starting with The Contrast (1787) by Royall Tyler, and ending with Clybourne Park (2012) by Bruce Norris. The plays are discussed in alphabetical order; plot, historical tidbits, brief excerpts from the plays, even briefer excerpts from contemporary reviews.

Also consider: The Book of Broadway: The Definitive Plays and Musicals, Eric Grode’s 2017 update of his 2015 book profiling 150 Broadway musicals and plays, also arrangement alphabetically.

Sense of Occasion

Harold Prince’s newly published memoir is a retrospective of a 70-year career in the theater that is one of the most successful in American history, each chapter devoted to a different show that Prince produced or directed, or both.  But it is also oddly constructed, awkwardly updating his 1974 memoir.  My review

The Man Who Designed the Future:

Norman Bel Geddes and the Invention of Twentieth-Century America

Norman Bel Geddes designed 19 Broadway shows — an also refrigerators planes and skyscrapers.

Up in the Cheap Seats:

A Historical Memoir of Broadway.

Ron Fassle claims only to be a theater fan, not a critic. But there is insight (and hilarity) in his recounting of the four years when, between the ages of 12-16, he saw 200 Broadway plays and musicals for as little as $1.50 a ticket. (This, clearly, was a while ago.)

The Ballad of John Latouche:

An American Lyricist’s Life and Work

Few New York theatergoers had probably heard of Latouche before the Encores revival of The Golden Apple , but he was “a great American genius,” said Duke Ellington, who “had a large vision of what musical theater could be,” said Stephen Sondheim.

Anne Bancroft: A Life

The late actress was known primarily for her movie roles, and for being Mel Brooks’ wife, but she was also a two-time Tony winner and an eight-time Broadway veteran.

4. For Fans and For Fun

When I Grow Up by Tim Minchin

You’re On!: The Theatre Quiz Book

Life Is Like a Musical: How to Live, Love, and Lead Like a Star

Seth’s Broadway Diary, Volume 3

Stop the Show! A History of Insane Incidents and Absurd Accidents in the Theater

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Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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