First Advisor

William Tate

Term of Graduation

Fall 1976

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Theater Arts




Theaters -- Stage-setting and scenery, Theater -- Production and direction -- Textbooks



Physical Description

1 online resource (44 pages)


Directing texts are inadequate in their various approaches to teaching the concepts of stage-composition. The goal of this thesis was to show that, for an approach to stage composition to be judged adequate, it must systematically provide the student of directing with a firm grounding in design and compositional principles as they relate to the total stage picture.

Nineteen texts were studied and their presentations of compositional principles were analyzed. Eight texts are included in an in-depth structural analysis. The texts analyzed are Fundamentals of Play Directing by Alexander Dean, The Art of Play Production by John Dolman, Play Direction by John Deitrich, Principles of Theatre Art by H. D. Albright, W. P. Halstead, and Lee Mitchell, Directing Methods by Albert and Bertha Johnson, Play Directing by Francis Hodge, Creating Theatre by August Staub and Creative Play Directing by Robert Cohen and John Harrop.

The analysis of these texts includes a detailed comparison of terminology· and approaches to the presentation of compositional principles. Of the nineteen texts included in this investigation, only one, Creating Theatre by August Staub, presented a systematic approach to design fundamentals and compositional principals as they relate to the director's function.

Also included in this thesis are the writer's criteria for judging the adequacy of approaches to composition in any directing text.

The conclusion reached by the writer is that the authors of texts on directing, as well as the schools that offer programs in theatre arts, need to emphasize design fundamentals as an essential element in any theatre student's training.


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