Day 14: Building your directorial library

by Tobi Mattingly | Aug 4, 2016

Part of a director’s personal exploration of what Language of the Stage means to him or her comes from individual study of the craft.

To that end, today we’re sharing a resource that was originally compiled by directors as part of the U.S. Theatre Director Resources Facebook group. The group recently polled its members as to the best and most effective texts for the study of directing.

Here are the results of the (highly informal) poll:

#1 The Empty Space by Peter Brook

#2 A Director Prepares by Anne Bogart

#3 Backwards & Forwards: A Technical Manual for Reading Plays by David Ball and Michael Langham

#4 A Sense of Direction: Some Observations on the Art of Directing by William Ball

#5 The Viewpoints Book: A Practical Guide to Viewpoints and Composition by Anne Bogart & Tina Landau

#6 Towards a Poor Theatre by Jerzy Grotowski

#7 Notes on Directing: 130 Lessons in Leadership from the Director’s Chair by Frank Hauser & Russell Reich

#8 Tips: Ideas for Directors by Jon Jory

#9 Theatre of the Oppressed by Augusto Boal

#10 The Director’s Craft: A Handbook for the Theatre by Katie Mitchell

#11 The Theatre and Its Double by Antonin Artaud

#12 Brecht on Theatre by Bertolt Brecht

#13 Play Directing: Analysis, Communication, and Style by Francis Hodge

#14 How To Read A Play: Script Analysis for Directors by Damon Kiely

#15 Directors on Directing edited by Toby Cole and Helen KrichChinoy

#16 On Directing by Harold Clurman

#17 Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp

#18 Craig on Theatre by Edward Gordon Craig

#19 Fundamentals of Play Directing by Alexander Dean and Lawrence Carra

#20 Experimental Theatre: From Stanislavski to Peter Brook by James RooseEvans

Other recommended books: To The Director by Michael Chekhov; An Event in Space: JoAnne Akalaitis in Rehearsal;Thinking Like a Director by Michael Bloom; Meyerhold on Theatre by Vsevolod Meyerhold; The Vakhtangov Sourcebook by Yevgeny Vakhtangov; Unbalancing Acts: Foundations for a Theatre by Richard Foreman; Directors in Rehearsal by Susan Letzler Cole; Directing Actors: Creating Memorable Performances for Film & Television by Judith Weston; The Directorial Image: The Play And The Director by Frank Alonzo McMullan; The Simple Stage: Its Origins in the Modern American Theater (Contributions in Drama and Theatre Studies) by Arthur Feinsod; Staging Modern Playwrights: From Director’s Concept to Performance by Sidney Homan; The Director’s Eye: A Comprehensive Textbook for Directors and Actors by John Ahart; Directing for the Stage: A Workshop Guide of Creative Exercises and Projects by Terry John Converse; On Filmmaking: An Introduction to the Craft of the Director by Alexander Mackendrick and Paul Cronin; Sitting In a Dark Theatre How to Direct a Play and Not Lose Your Mind by Nicole Dominguez Appleby; Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky; 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell; Creating Life Onstage by Marshall Mason; Words Into Action: Finding the Life of the Play by William Gaskill; Directing Plays, Directing People: A Collaborative Art by Mary B. Robinson; and The Theatrical Image by James H Clay.


Tobi Mattingly is a Chicago-based director, actor, music director, and teaching artist. She is the founder of Artistic Conspiracy, an arts organization dedicated to creating and enabling world-changing theatre. Through this organization, she helps professional theatremakers take control of their theatre careers through learning and balancing artistic craft, bodymind practices, and business/marketing management.