25 New Theater Books for Summer Reading 2021

Below are recently published theater books, or those scheduled to be published this summer, in four categories:
Scripts and Play Anthologies
Biographies and Memoirs
Theater History, Criticism and Reference
Theater Design

Each title is linked to its page on Amazon where you can learn more, read a sample, and purchase. I also include links to my reviews.

Scripts and Play Anthologies

The Best American Short Plays 2018–2019

A Strange Loop by Michael R. Jackson, winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. (My review of the Off-Broadway production.) 

Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee. (My review of the play)

Is God Is / What to Send Up When It Goes Down by Aleshea Harris (My review of Is God Is)

The Thanksgiving Play / What Would Crazy Horse Do? by Larissa Fasthorse. (My review of the Off-Broadway production of The Thanksgiving Play.

Unusual Stories, Unusually Told: 7 Contemporary American Plays from Clubbed Thumb

Biographies and Memoirs

Walking with Ghosts: A Memoir by Gabriel Byrne

“Radical Vision: A Biography of Lorraine Hansberry” by Soyica Diggs Colbert

“Hirschfeld: The Biography” by Ellen Stern
Theater caricaturist Al Hirschfeld 

My Broken Language: A Memoir” by Quiara Alegría Hudes
(My review)

Putting It Together: How Stephen Sondheim and I Created “Sunday in the Park with George” by James Lapine
chronicles the two-year odyssey of creating the iconic Broadway musical

“Mike Nichols: A Life”  by Mark Harris
(My review)

Smile: The Story of a Face”  by Sarah Ruhl
(My review)

That’s Entertainment: A Biography of Broadway Composer Arthur Schwartz

Blue Song: St. Louis in the Life and Work of Tennessee Williams by Henry I. Schvey. 
A look at the people and the places in St. Louis that shaped the playwright’s work, a city he professed to hate, but where he lived the longest and where he’s buried.

Theater History, Criticism and Reference

50 Women in Theatre  by Marsha Norman, Daryl Roth, Cheryl Robson (Editor)
An overview of post-war theatre and 25 exclusive interviews with leading women theatre-makers

American Musicals in Context: From the American Revolution to the 21st Century  by Thomas A Greenfield
A look at 20 musicals (from Allegiance to War Paint, and of course Hamilton) that tell some part of the American story on stage.  

Broadway Goes to War: American Theater during World War II by Robert L. McLaughlin and Sally E. Parry
A look at American drama of the 1940s, when plays like Watch on the Rhine (1941), The Moon is Down (1942), Tomorrow the World (1943), and A Bell for Adano (1944) encouraged public discussion of the war’s impact on daily life and raised critical questions about the conflict well before other forms of popular entertainment.

Footnotes: The Black Artists Who Rewrote the Rules of the Great White Way (The Sparkling Story of Broadway’s Black History Heartbreaks and Triumph) by Caseen Gaines
The story of “Shuffle Along,” how its creative team overcame racism, poverty  and violence to produce this 1921 runaway Broadway hit, which launched the careers of many of the twentieth century’s most beloved Black performers

In the Heights: Finding Home
A behind-the-scenes book hooked to the release of the movie version of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical set in Washington Heights

Magnum Opus: The Cycle Plays of Eugene O’Neill
From 1935 to 1939, Eugene O’Neill worked on a series of plays that would trace the history of an American family through several generations. He completed just two of the proposed eleven plays—A Touch of the Poet and More Stately Mansions. Zander Brietzke employs archival research, literary analysis  and theatrical imagination. 

The Stephen Sondheim Encyclopedia by Rick Pender

Theatre of the Sphere: The Vibrant Being
Luis Valdez, the 80-year-old Chicano playwright, screenwriter, film director and actor. lays out the principles that underlie his innovations in the theater and the company he founded El Teatro Campesino ― from shows staged on the backs of flatbed trucks by the participants in the Delano Grape Strike of the 1960s to international megahits like Zoot Suit.

Theater Design

“Art of the Character: Highlights from the Glenn Close Costume Collection” by H. Akou, L. McRobbie, J. E. Maher
A catalogue of the costumes  Glenn Close wore for her roles  film, television and theater,

Drama” by David Rockwell
The architect and set designer enlists his firm and his friends to presents both his theatrical and architectural designs, reflecting Rockwell’s dual professional practice, and also his long-held personal belief that “there are ideas from the theater that apply to the architecture world, and vice-versa.” (My review.)

Your purchase through some of the links above may generate a small commission, which helps support my work.

Author: New York Theater

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

Leave a Reply