I have used this book as the basis of several theatre and playwriting classes that I have taught. Ball's language is simple, though the words he creates to explain his theories, such as "trigger" and "heap" (a trigger is the moment when people's motivations are exposed, while a heap is the result of that action) make it it easy for any non-theatre person to grasp the clever concepts. By having a person read a play backwards, Ball shows how to grasp the playwright's intentions, and the character's movements. It's a basic theatrical literary theatre that is surprisingly effective, especially in trying to teach young writers how to create a play. I highly recommend this book to the theatre neophyte as well as the theatre professional.
David Ball's Backwards and Forwards is a concise, to-the-point handbook useful to anyone involved in theatre. He, step-by-step, gives methods of analyzing a play, using Hamlet as an example. This is a very useful technique, whereas some books of lesser quality will give information with no examples of application. As an aspiring director I found the content very helpful, rudimentary, and although at times basic, always insightful. A must-have.
David Ball's book is a must-have for all students and professors of theatre. It demystifies the playwriting process and presents a simple, down-to-earth explanation of why a playscript works the way it does. In a word, it explains how scripts work. I find the deceptively simple explanations help the novices in my Introduction to Theatre classes understand how playscripts are put together and make a fun game of script analysis for these students--a concept that is often hard to communicate to Intro students. At the same time, it make so much sense that it becomes the cornerstone for Beginning Directing, Playwriting, and Script Analysis students. Students whom I teach using Ball's ideas always come through the semester with a lot of self-esteem because having such a solid cornerstone allows their creativity to take off in unexpected directions.
Ball's book is perhaps one of the most concise and insightful texts written about the subject of text analysis. Short and simple yet powerful, it is a must-have for theater artists of all kinds. Whenever I am directing or writing, I go back to Ball's book and review it as part of my preparation, and there is always something new or interesting in it. Besides being useful as a resource to directors and writers, it is invaluable to academicians as well as actors. Using Hamlet as a model, it unravels not only the mysteries and traps of that play, but ALL plays. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It should be taught in directing curriculums and read by actors, writers, and academicians everywhere. (P.S. - Ball was a professor at Carnegie Mellon, my alma mater, and the birthplace of advanced directing studies in America.)
My teacher from San Jose State University made us read this and I learned a lot from it. It was quick, fast, and simple reading; a great tool for those investigating plays. Also this book can help you with riting one as well (If you use reverse psychology). The examples of Hamlet are great examples that help explain the definitations of plot, character, theme, conflict, and other important parts in plays. A great tool for anyone in Theatre.
A friend who teachs drama and directing at a local college recommended this book to me after he'd read a script I'd written. Not only is it a fast and interesting read, it offers simple and sometimes brilliant techniques for understanding and evaluating plays, movies, and even books. Even if you never plan to act or write, this well-written little book will enhance your appreciation of good story-telling. And if you ever had to endure discussions of "Hamlet" in high-school or college, you'll likely be surprised by Ball's unique take on the character as an example of dramatic writing.
David Ball's book on script analysis should be read and understood by anyone who directs plays. He explains how to read a play through the very simple technique of reading it from start to finish--and then backwards, from finish to start. By doing so, he points out, the reader learns how one scene leads logically and progressively to the next. While the concept is simple and straightforward, you have to read Ball's book to see how this process can be used to ferret out every important detail of plot and character development.