National Theatre: All About Theatre

National Theatre

Collaborations between national institutions and children’s book publishers can produce some of the most exciting books for children, so I was delighted to receive Walker Books’ All About Theatre book, produced with the National Theatre.

I’m doubly delighted to bring it to you today, 1st November, for National Non-fiction November.

Drama is a key topic for children – it can boost confidence, encourage visual and spatial awareness, helps communication skills, teamwork and cooperation, empathy, and of course creativity. By providing a romp through all the various elements that go into theatre production, this book excels in its comprehensiveness as well as its stunning graphics and accompanying photography.

Each aspect of putting on a theatre production is covered in a separate chapter, and with reference to a National Theatre production. The introduction contains a very brief history of theatre, and then an explanation of what the National Theatre is, and an extended glossary of who’s who within a theatre.

The chapters range from the play itself, including different genres, playwrights, the vision (this page features glorious photographs of War Horse), directors and puppets. Then the cast – actors, rehearsals, tricks of the trade, stagecraft, stage fighting, comic timing – and this is only the first 48 pages of a 130 page book.

There is so much that goes into a production, and this book proves it. I particularly liked the graphics representing different types of staging from proscenium arches to thrust and the round; and the page on costumes depicting how to get from sketch to stage. The photos for make-up feature the play Frankenstein – a very gruesome picture here, and a lovely ‘try me at home’ section on how to apply stage make up – to create a green witch.

For those with a less audience-facing inclination, there is plenty on creating props, lighting, special effects, music, and even marketing.

There are anecdotes and tips from stars of the stage, and professionals who work behind the scenes, and an amazing variety and array of plays and tools – from Shakespeare to Treasure Island, One Man Two Guvnors to Emil and the Detectives. What’s more this is a book that can be read front to back, or dipped into for particular skillsets.

There is a bold use of colour throughout – many different colour backgrounds, but all with easy to read text. The pages contain chunks of text, captions, snippets, quotes, lists and diagrams so it’s fun, attractive and handy reference. Easy on the eye, and easy to understand.

If this doesn’t inspire you to see theatre, make theatre, enjoy and appreciate theatre, then I don’t know what will. After all, all the world’s a stage….

Age range approx. 8+ years.

You can buy it here.