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Rough Magic

Rough Magic

Making Theatre at the Royal Shakespeare Company

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Steven Adler. Foreword by Chris Parry


Paperback (Other formats: NLEB)
296 pages, 6 x 9, 34 illustrations


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About the Book

Steven Adler examines the dynamic life and workings of the theatre company responsible for some of the world’s most compelling performances and influential productions of the last forty years, including Marat/Sade, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Les Misérables, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, and Nicholas Nickleby.

Rough Magic provides a thorough analysis of the many strands of theatrical activity on both sides of the footlights that coalesce in the artistic vigor of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Adler traces the company’s evolution from its origins in 1879 as a week-long festival presented by Stratford-upon-Avon as a birthday homage to its native son, to its current incarnation as one of the world’s most distinguished institutional theatres. He probes the aspirations and achievements of the RSC’s four successive artistic directors: Peter Hall, Trevor Nunn, Terry Hands, and Adrian Noble. He offers a comprehensive view of the design and aesthetics of the RSC’s five theatres in Stratford and London, and explores the intricate process of crafting a repertoire at home and on tour that responds to the needs of the artists as well as the demands of the box office.

Vivid illustrations, personal observation, research, and dozens of interviews with current and former members of the Royal Shakespeare Company unite to produce Rough Magic.


Steven Adler, a native of Brooklyn, New York, heads the graduate program in stage management at the University of California, San Diego, where he is also Vice Chair and Director of Theatre of the Department of Theatre and Dance. He has stage managed numerous productions on Broadway, Off-Broadway, on national tours, in regional theatre, and in television.


“Steven Adler, greatly experienced in the American theatre as a Broadway stage manager, director, and teacher, . . . . affords us an objective American take on a very British institution. . . [He] paints a portrait of the RSC from many perspectives—the artistic, the technical, the administrative, and the fiscal—with the assured brushstrokes of an accomplished theatre professional and educator.” —Chris Parry, from the Foreword