New Theater Books for Summer Reading

Below are a dozen new or forthcoming books about theater, plus a bonus of two books likely to be of interest to theatergoers, which I list under the category Theater Adjacent. Not all these selections are beach reading, but they promise to keep you engaged in the stage even when you’re nowhere near one.

Click on each title to learn more about the book, and to purchase it.

Scripts and Play Anthologies

The Band’s Visit
The text of the 2018 Tony-winning musical by Itamar Moses, and composer David Yazbek.

Let Me Down Easy

The text of Ana Deavere Smith’s solo show about death and dying and the American health care system, ompiled from dozens of interviews.

100 Plays for the First Hundred Days

In reaction to the extraordinary events of the first hundred days of the presidency of Donald J. Trump, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks has created a unique and personal response to one of the most tumultuous times in our recent history―a play diary for each day of the presidency, to capture and explore the events as they unfolded.

Plays for the Public

In his five decades of work in theater, Richard Foreman has become known as an influential figure in the downtown scene, focusing on the innovative and experimental. This new anthology includes The Gods are Pounding My Head, Idiot Savant, and Old-Fashioned Prostitutes.

Theatre Goes Wrong: A Mischief Theatre Play Collection; The Nativity Goes Wrong; Peter Pan Goes Wrong; The Play That Goes Wrong; The Comedy About a Bank Robbery

From the theater company that improbably has the longest-running play on Broadway.

Biography and Memoir

Take You Wherever You Go

A memoir by the Broadway director who won a Tony for “A Raisin in the Sun,” and is acclaimed as August Wilson interpreter, who  traveled a long road from his childhood in a small wooden house in rural Florida.

Making Oscar Wilde

A new biography of the witty playwright that unearths new material on his early career in Victorian England and his tour of post-Civil War America.

Playing to the Gods: Sarah Bernhardt, Eleonora Duse, and the Rivalry that Changed Acting Forever

The story of the rivalry between the two most renowned actresses of the nineteenth century: legendary Sarah Bernhardt, whose eccentricity on and off the stage made her the original diva, and mystical Eleonora Duse, who broke all the rules to popularize the natural style of acting we celebrate today.

Theater History, Genre, Craft


American Theatre Wing, An Oral History: 100 Years, 100 Voices, 100 Million Miracles

Best-known as the organizers of the Tony Awards, this coffee table book offers a larger picture of its history, though reminiscences by such theater artists as Angela Lansbury, Rosie O’Donnell, Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald, Harold Prince, Kenny Leon, Neil Patrick Harris, David Henry Hwang, Harvey Fierstein, and James Corden

Les Miserables: The Story of the World’s Longest Running Musical in Words, Pictures and Rare Memorabilia

A look back at the musical’s 33-year history

Off Sites: Contemporary Performance beyond Site-Specific (Theater in the Americas)

Theater scholar Bertie Ferdman explores the evolution of site-specific theater, a term that is no longer sufficient for the genre’s many contemporary variations.

The Costume Supervisor’s Toolkit: Supervising Theatre Costume Production from First Meeting to Final Performance

A how-to guide.

Theater Adjacent

Dance Me a Song: Astaire, Balanchine, Kelly, and the American Film Musical

Dancer-choreographer-directors Fred Astaire, George Balanchine and Gene Kelly and their colleagues helped to develop a distinctively modern American film-dance style and recurring dance genres for the songs and stories of the American musical.

God and Hamilton: Spiritual Themes from the Life of Alexander Hamilton and the Broadway Musical He Inspired

The book weaves together insights from the musical itself, the lives of Alexander and Eliza Hamilton, and the story of Scripture into a tapestry that challenges people of faith to reexamine their lives.

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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