Recently, author and theater designer Joshua Langman celebrated the publication of his book “Standby: an approach to theatrical designwith a launch party at The Players, a historic private drama club in Gramercy Park.
The evening included an informal chat, a book reading and a question-and-answer period. It was hosted by playwright, director and puppeteer Nehprii Amenii, artistic director of Khunum Productions and longtime Langman collaborator. It was hosted by player Paul Valle and his wife, Jan Valle, a professor in City College’s Educational Theater Graduate Program. Participants included playwrights, directors, actors, producers, designers, theater teachers and theater enthusiasts.
Standby: an approach to theatrical design, published May 18 by Southern Illinois University Press, offers a practical philosophy of contemporary theater design that addresses all design disciplines, all theatrical collaborators, and all forms of theater, from traditional to avant-garde.
Starting from the proposition that design brings essential layers of meaning to an experience, Be ready pleads for a singular approach centered on the creation of revealing theatrical moments. On a mission to illuminate the soul of craftsmanship, Langman investigates the goals of design, details the elements of a production concept, uncovers the mechanics of creating meaning, explores the relationship between theatrical design and fine arts and art history, and offers practical advice. on production design. Blending scholarship and storytelling, personal experience and contrarian wisdom, “Be ready” invites theater makers to harness the rich dramatic potential of theater design.
The Be ready a launch party was held in The Players Library, a space designed by Stanford White to house Edwin Booth’s theater collection; it currently contains part of the holdings of the Hampden-Booth Theater Library, one of the largest collections in the world devoted to the history of theatre.
Facilitator Nehprii Amenii talked about her first collaboration with Langman, on her immersive piece Food for the gods, which premiered in 2013. Langman described the impetus for writing Be ready as the need for a holistic conceptual theory for the field of theater design. He spoke about the power of design as a vehicle for creating meaning and read an excerpt from Be ready which highlights the role of the designer as a sculptor of resonant moments. Audience members responded to the reading with questions, sparking an engaging discussion about the writing process Be ready, the value of play in theater and society, and the status of theater design during the pandemic.
Housed in a Gilded Age mansion in Manhattan’s Gramercy Park, The Players is a membership club for performing, literary and visual artists and patrons of the arts. Founded by legendary Shakespearean actor Edwin Booth in 1888, the club has been a spiritual home for generations of theatrical luminaries. Now in its 134th season, The Players celebrates New York’s rich cultural life with exclusive members-only events that include live performances, readings from top authors and playwrights, film screenings and dining in its famous Grill room.
For more information on Standby: an approach to theatrical design, see www.standbybook.com. Langman can be heard discussing the genesis of the book in a recent segment on NPR.
For more information on The Players, visit www.theplayersnyc.org.
Setting up for the book launch party at The Players.
Guests mingle at the Player’s Club library.
Joshua Langman, Taylor A. Purdee, Carly Jordan.
Guests listen to Langman read in standby mode in the Player History Library.
The guests converse.
Joshua Langman and Nehprii Amenii
Joshua Langman and Sharon Holiner
Copies of Standby: An Approach to Theatrical Design for purchase.