The Theatre of Orson Welles

Richard France

ISBN 0838719724

Orson Welles has been hailed as one of the most brilliant actors and directors in the history of the cinema and the theatre, and although Welles's film career has been examined and reexamined in print for years, almost no attention has been paid to his relatively short, yet nevertheless meteoric, career in the world of the stage. In this critical biography of that portion of Welles's artistic endeavors, Dr. France tells how Welles functioned dynamically in that world--how, in the space of four years, he conceived several of the most celebrated and ambitious productions in the history of the American stage. And all this before he turned twenty-five!

Dr. France sees Welles's effectiveness as shining through his formal structure on the one hand and his "tactile" theatricality on the other. Welles, though largely unaware of it, displayed much of the same expressive techniques then popular with the European avant-garde. Most critics separate Welles's work in the movies from his work in the theatre. The author suggests, however, that all of this artist's achievements must be viewed as parts of a continuous pattern, and that a study of his theatrical career is a necessary prerequisite to any study of his films. The Theatre of Orson Welles is illustrated with many photographs, and is based primarily on interviews, personal correspondence, and contemporary accounts of the productions.

About the author:

Richard France is Professor of Theatre and Drama at Lawrence University.


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