While much of the time there’s a load of crud on my bookshelf, such as french atlases and camping directories, cookery books and playtexts, there are some books I can’t face putting up in the loft; either because they are too important or because I haven’t finished reading them yet. Here’s a selection of what appear to be the most important / formative. They are also the ones I find myself recommending on a frequent basis.
Senge, P et al Presence London, Nicolas Brearley, 2005
Asking questions about humanism and leadership. Senge is better known for “The Fifth Discipline” – his description of the qualities of mastery is, er, masterful.
Gardiner, M Critiques of Everyday Life London, Routledge 2000
Traces ideas of the individual quotidian experience through Surrealism and the Situationists to de Certeau and Dorothy Smith
Benjamin W trans Zorn H Illuminations London, Pimlico 1999
(Contains The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction – 1936 Discussion of the ‘Aura’ of artwork among other things)
Boal, A Theatre of the Oppressed London, Pluto 1979
The interchange of culture which is needed to cope with asymetric power relationships, through class or other difference.
Fo, Dario trans Emery E Mistero Buffo in Plays One London Methuen 1992
Totally delightful mix of performance and lecture on medieval clowning
Brook, P The Empty Space London Penguin 1968
Devastatingly great analysis of the process of theatre. I was bowled out by it, and went to see the White Box Dream expecting to see it put into action. Maybe he’d moved on; maybe I was reading something else into it.
Sennett R The Fall of Public Man London Penguin 2003(new edn)
Insight into contemporary and historical attitudes to being and doing in public.
Sennett R The Corrosion of Character (The personal consequences of work in the new capitalism) New York, Norton, 1999
Sennett R The Craftsman London, Allen Lane 2008
First of a trilogy on material culture. This guy is tapping into the zeitgeist, trying to work out why it feels like it’s all going wrong, in the midst of material wealth.
Huxley A The Doors of Perception London Penguin 1959
On the nature of mystical experience .
Berne, E Games People Play London, Penguin 1967
Transactional analysis. Explains a lot about why people often act in strange ways. Performed as a play in the 60’s.
Campbell, J The Hero with a Thousand Faces.
An attempt to chart the ‘monomyth’ – te psychic blueprint of human development as expressed through religious symbolism.
Shlain, L The Alphabet and the Goddess (The conflict between word and image) Penguin 1998
Associations between Logos and Eros; monotheism and mother goddess worship; changing technologies; images and iconoclasm.
Bakhtin, M The Carnivalesque in Storey, J Popular Culture and Cultural Theory: a reader.
Explanation and enquiry into the role of the demotic in performance.