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Editorial Reviews

As with the successful "The History of Opera," Naxos produces the history of drama and the stage from ancient Greece through the twentieth century in an accessible program. With master Derek Jacobi and actors who excerpt from dozens of plays as guides, the listener is treated to a fascinating chronicle for students, aficionados - and even anyone with a passing interest in history or theater. Jacobi illuminates the cultural heritage surrounding each period in a style both grand and approachable. David Timson's text is rich and involving.

Publisher's Summary

Here is a diverse and fascinating story of the Theatre, from the first tragedies and comedies of Ancient Greece to the high-tech mega-musicals of the late 20th century. It is an absorbing listen, encompassing ancient tales, medieval theatre, Commedia dell'Arte, the great dramas of the Elizabethan age, the foppish 18th century, and the European developments in France, Germany, and Spain with Russia making its main impact in the 19th century. As the 20th century progressed, the theatre moved in different experimental directions, particularly in America and Europe.

Interwoven within the story are the playwrights, the actors, the designers, and theorists who have kept this performing art flourishing for 2,500 years. All this is illustrated by more than 50 excerpts from plays and contemporary accounts, ranging from the controversial and innovative to sheer entertainment. So sit back, relax, you have front row seats, and listen to a rich a variety experience that is the Theatre.

(P)2000 NAXOS AudioBooks Ltd., All Rights Reserved

Critic Reviews

  • Winner, Audio Publishers Association 2001 Audie Award, Original Work

"A fascinating chronicle for students, aficionados - and even anyone with a passing interest in history or theatre." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Tim
  • Fremont, NE, United States
  • 01-30-09

Nice job! Very good basic overview of theater!

I really enjoyed this audiobook. It is a broad history of theater, interspersed with short vignettes of famous plays.

The nice thing is that the length of the dramatic selections performed is just about perfect. Just enough for you to get the idea being conveyed, but not enough that you begin to lose interest.

The author covers a lot of ground in a short time, but does a good job of bringing out what you need to know about each time period. The stories about the individual playwrights are interesting. I was also glad that the author spent a reasonable amount of time discussing the development of technical theater (lighting, scenery, costumes, etc..).

If you are a casual theater-goer, you'll probably get quite a bit out of this book. It may not be deep enough for those who have studied theater in college, but for the vast majority this will be a very good introduction.

I had this on my wish list for over 2 years and was always a little skeptical about buying it. Was very glad that I did.

Nice job!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Not enough excerpts

There are 50 excerpts from plays and other dramatic performances. Derek Jacoby's narration is good but in my opinion it needs more theatrical excerpts for a work this long. This can be seen by comparing this to Naxos Audio Books' similar work History of Classical Music, which I also reviewed. It has many, many more excerpts to interrupt the narration.

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Great survey

A great survey and education in the range of the art from the beginnings in Greece.

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Theatre geek must read!

Fantastic expanse of knowledge in an entertaining fashion! Great for anyone curious about the Theatre.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Christine
  • 11-24-07

Fascinating subject flawlessly read

Beautifully read by Derek Jacobi. Fascinating, illuminating and rivetting.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-03-17

Theatre guide

If you are interested in the theatre in any way then this book is a "must". It is informative and entertaining yet never boring. Derek Jacobi is the perfect guide to take you through the history of the theatre. I benefited greatly from listening to this book and can whole-heartedly recommend it.