This guidebook for transforming actual American figures and events
into dramatic form has aided many communities and groups in writing, planning, and producing first-rate historical dramas. The new edition of Creating Historical Drama: A Guide for Communities, Theatre Groups, and Playwrights features updated examples of drama and dramatic activities from short indoor productions to large-scale, outdoor historical dramas; new material about funding, economic impact on communities, budgeting, and marketing; and current information on physical theatre development.
Responding to a national interest in dramatizing historical material in a variety of community settings, the volume begins with a discussion on the scope and sources of historical drama, as well as the reasons for historicizing drama. From there, it details the features of biography, pageant, and epic dramas, and takes on important issues such as historical accuracy and dealing with expository material. The handbook then provides assistance in composing drama, leading and organizing the theatre group, organizing the community’s resources, and evaluating the audience and the production site. Twenty-nine illustrations, with sketches by Darwin Payne and Ronald Naverson, augment the discussion.
Written for the nonspecialist and particularly useful to novice playwrights and directors, the volume is equally important for professional historians, educators, and theatre artists. More than a guidebook, Creating Historical Drama convincingly demonstrates that the genre is a beneficial and significant cultural phenomenon that not only educates and entertains, but also has the power to revitalize civic economy and morale.
Over the past decade, movie audiences have become hungry for films based on real people and historical events. Never was this more evident than during the best-picture showdown between The King’s Speech and The Social Network during the 2011 Academy Awards, a scene then repeated, with Argo, Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty in the 2013 awards.. While Hollywood moguls have come to recognize the box-office revenue and critical acclaim that accompany such films and are now fast-tracking many docudramas into theaters, there remains a need for more reality-based film scripts.
In From “Chariots of Fire” to “The King’s Speech,” writer, director, and producer Alan Rosenthal presents a manual for screenwriters to develop their bio-pic or docudrama from concept to completion. This comprehensive guide begins with an overview of the genre before providing screenwriters with all the techniques and insights needed to navigate the often intimidating landscape of screenwriting for reality-based scripts. Included within the volume are tips for such challenges as inception and research, developing dialogue and narration, and capably addressing any legal and rights issues that may arise. Also included are appendixes containing useful marketing tips and broadcast guidelines.
A practical, down-to-earth manual for experienced and novice screenwriters alike, From “Chariots of Fire” to “The King’s Speech” is the only manual dedicated explicitly to writing the bio-pic and docudrama. Rosenthal shares his decades of experience in the film industry, along with hands-on tools and maps, to help screenwriters completely master this popular film genre.
In his examination of the ways in which theatre participates in the ongoing representations of and debates about the past, Freddie Rokem concentrates on the ways in which theatre after World War II has presented different aspects of the French Revolution and the Holocaust, showing us that by “performing history” actors bring the historical past and the theatrical present together.
When the 1990 English docudrama Who Bombed Birmingham? cast serious doubt on the guilt of six men convicted of bombing two British pubs in 1974, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher declared that a "television program alters nothing." But, as Alan Rosenthal concludes, Thatcher was wrong. The film engendered a new inquiry that led to the release of the convicted men.
Rosenthal notes that docudrama wields more influence than the average documentary and that "reality-based stories taken from topical journalism are the most popular drama genre on U.S. and British television today." This three-part collection of diverse and provocative essays addresses the dominant questions and controversies the genre poses.
Defining and examining the rationale of docudrama, the nine essayists in the first part discuss the history and development of docudrama on TV and in film; they also consider the place of truth in docudrama, the main critiques of the form, and the audience's susceptibilities and expectations. In investigating the actual filmmaking process, the eight essays in the second part focus on how "docudrama as a 'commodity' is created in the United States and England." Part essay, part case study, and part interview, this section also explores how Hollywood and the commercial networks as well as producers and writers work and think. The final part presents an in-depth critique of a number of controversial docudramas that have helped form and shape public opinion, including Battleship Potemkin, Roots, Reds, JFK, Mississippi Burning, Schindler's List, and In the Name of the Father.
In addition to Rosenthal, the contributors are John Corner, George F. Custen, David Edgar, Leslie Fishbein, George MacDonald Fraser, Todd Gitlin, Douglas Gomery, Richard Grenier, Sumiko Higashi, Tom W. Hoffer, Jerry Kuehl, Steve Lipkin, Yosefa Loshitsky, Ian McBride, Richard Alan Nelson, Conor Cruise O'Brien, Derek Paget, Robert A. Rosenstone, Betsy Sharkey, Irene Shubik, Jeff Silverman, D. J. Wenden, Sita Williams, and Leslie Woodhead.