A practical investigation into story-theatre and the art of telling stories through theatre, by the renowned director who founded Shared Experience Theatre Company.
In Then What Happens?, Mike Alfreds makes the case for putting story and storytelling back at the heart of theatre. He explores the whole process of adapting for the stage, and investigates the particular techniques - many of them highly sophisticated - that actors require when performing 'story-theatre'.
The book includes over two hundred exercises, improvisations and workshops dealing with the practical aspects of story-theatre, such as building an ensemble, creating a physical vocabulary, and transforming written narrative into drama. It draws on examples ranging from traditional legends and folklore, through the works of Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and Evelyn Waugh, to contemporary fiction. Alfreds shows how each story demands its own particular set of dramatic choices, opening up endless possibilities for performance.
Then What Happens? - like the author's tremendously successful first book, Different Every Night - will be invaluable to directors and actors, to dramatists working in the field of adaptation, to those devising and working from improvisation, and to any theatregoer who has been moved by the power of an unfolding story to ask: 'Then what happens?'
‘All theatre directors know that good narrative is the secret of good theatre, but few have as distinctive, rigorous and exceptional a method of exploring that secret as does Mike Alfreds. His system of working, and his thoughts on the making of theatre in our time, are as crucial and illuminating as those of Stanislavsky and Peter Brook have been to generations of theatre enthusiasts and practitioners.’ Michael Coveney
Blog entry: Mike Alfreds reflects on how acting and storytelling should lie at the heart of theatre. 'What first drew me to theatre and has ever since engrossed and thrilled me most is the extraordinary phenomenon of the actor, not virtual but actual, present and immediate, endowed with our infinite human potential to express what it means to be alive...' Read on >>
'both fascinating and instructive for the general reader as well as practitioners... will prove invaluable to directors, actors and even designers and choreographers... a must have'
'Alfreds' substantial book provides a fascinating insight into [his approach], which has been adopted by many other directors and companies since the 1970s. ... This is an ideal read for anyone who is keen to put storytelling at the heart of performance'
'Comprehensive, rigorous and practical... a heavyweight book from a heavyweight author'
'Practical and thorough... a very useful book for playwrights and directors'
Mike Alfreds has been directing plays for more than fifty years. In the 1970s he founded Shared Experience, and has since worked for the National Theatre, Shakespeare's Globe, the Royal Shakespeare Company and also extensively abroad. He is hugely respected within the profession. His book, Different Every Night, also published by Nick Hern Books, describes his approach to theatre and some of his rehearsal processes when working on plays.