Brecht for Beginners (1987), Artaud for Beginners (1999), and Stanislavski for Beginners (1999) are comic books about three of the most significant theatre practitioners of the 20th century.
What is great about these publications is their form. Who would have thought a student could read about Brecht’s epic theatre style, Artaud’s lunacy and his links to surrealism, or Stanislavski’s famous ‘system’ as a comic book? The beauty in these comic books is that they are:
- easily digestible for students (high school or university)
- accurate and detailed
- cover biographical information
- discuss significant practitioner theories and publications
- well illustrated to break up the text and provide visual stimulus
- place information in bite-sized chunks
- discuss conventions (acting and staging techniques)
- are just as useful for teachers as they are for students
- are a hell of a lot easier than trying to comprehend some of the actual practitioner writings (if you’ve ever tried to read one of Antonin Artaud’s Manifestos, you’ll know what I mean!)
But, alas, there is a slight problem. Part of a much larger series, unfortunately these three comic books are today out of print. So, if you’re keen, you will need to scour the web like I did to find a second-hand copy in good condition (you may be lucky enough to score a new copy). Hunt beyond the usual places for these books. If successful, sit back and wait for it to arrive in the mail, have a fun read, and then photocopy parts of it for your students to devour in class. They’ll be engaged, trust me.