Play Production Processes – Revised Edition by Professor Effiong Johnson


Chapter 1- Play Production: Theoretical Discourse
Chapter 2- Performance: An Overview
Chapter 3 – The Production Script
Chapter 4-Auditioning the Script
Chapter 5 – The Art of Blocking
Chapter 6- The Role of the Actor in the Production
Chapter 7 – The Designer’s Role in the Production…
Chapter 8 – The Director and Directorial Approach.
Chapter 9 – Speech Consideration in Performance
Chapter 10 – Dress and Technical Rehearsal
Chapter 11- Stage and House Management
Chapter 12 – Criticism and the Critic
Chapter 13 -The Audience of the Theatre
Chapter 14 – Playmaking—A Craft to be Learned
Chapter 15—The Performance Night: A Comment

Click Here to Download the Full Table of Contents.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010, at about 4. 37 pm, my phone rang and when I picked it, it was Goddy Ejue, one of my students in my Junior academic years, now my colleague in the University of Abuja, calling to request For one hundred (100) copies each of Play Production Processes and Visions Towards a Mission: The Art of Interpretative Directing. I regretted not having any copy of Play Production Processes as they had since 2005 been totally sold out. I however sent him requested copies of . . . The Art of lnterpretative Directing. If I did not have in mind to write a revised edition of the book prior to that call, I would have birthed one that January 5. But thank God that when the call came, the revised writing had been done already, waiting only for final versions of corrections before onward movement to the publisher is desk.

To get the book sold out, my classmate at the Masters class in Ibadan, now colleague in the University of Port-Harcourt, Dr. Emmanuel Oga, singularly deserves mention. Not only did he find the book of immense professional (resource) quality, but he also went ahead to get the Theatre Arts Departmental Board, slam it with a compulsory tag For the students. That University alone must have run away with a minimum of three hundred (300) copies. Demands of less volumes also came From University of Ibadan, Calabar, Abraka, Benin, Ilorin, Jos and of course, my home base, the University of Uyo.

The popularity the book enjoyed did not come as a surprise. Not when the “Chief Priest” at the book’s baptism, Prof. Femi Osofisan, had prophesied in his Foreword to the book thus: “this is a work therefore that I expect to sell itself easily, on account of its own merits . . . [Being] an important manual to be proud of”. Let me thank you again, “Uncle Femi”, by being the one who on your own volition, opted to go through the manuscript and write its foreword_ that day in 2000, when we sat in your University of Ibadan Quarters, at lunch, in your house, and I updated you on the book’s progress. Thanks a lot for teaching me “Critical Precision” in discourse management and the decisive steps you have taken to enhance my professional and academic growth.

The tallest towering colleague of ours, Ofonime Inyang, had in his ‘Book Review” at the book’s presentation, described it as “Students friendly”, “Professionally—stimulating”, “Intellectually-charging” and “Totally-attractive”. “This book will soon be out of stock as hungry Nigerian theatre Arts Students (in the main) will pounce at it for the devouring”. Need I say that I enjoyed the speed of its bulk decimation. Who wouldn’t?
And I really, sincerely, want to appreciate all my colleagues, those who appreciated the book, by sending positive comments, like Professor Sam Ukala of Delta State University, Abraka, Nigeria, Prof. Patrick Ebewo of the University of Botswana and Sony Sampson—Akpan of the University of Lesotho and those who lacked the opportunity of expressing their feeling over the book to me by reason of non—physical contact. You all have motivated me to plunge (rather belatedly) into the Fabrications of its revised edition. Thanks a lot. Special thanks and appreciation go to my friend, Engr. Anietie Umana, for providing the wings for the book to fly across the seas.

I have been excited about writing the revised edition. Genuinely excited. Not just because of positive antecedents over book’s story of successes, but most especially, the fact that this time, the book is coming in an international label with attraction of global marketing exposure. I have been excited because I had the opportunity of effecting some changes in content which further situated the book’s ambience within core-professional discourses and tolerable bounds. The few errors which managed in the first edition to slip through my eagle eyes, have been “sentenced” in the revised edition. One hopes that Fresh ‘crimes’
would not be committed…

The major noticeable differences between the first edition and its revised counterpart, are the provision of a brand new Chapter one: Play Production: Theoretical discourse. The Chapter Qne which is dedicated to Prof. Dapo Adelugba, my research Professor in Ibadan at my Post—graduate days (Now of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria), for his uncompromising love For “Scholarly research”, indeed lays a solid foundation for the entire worlds spectrum. This was lacking in the first edition and it thus injects sound scholarly bearings to the balances of the book. Whereas maybe only about 6% extrication has been observed within contents of the first edition, there is nothing less than 30% addition of stuff in the contents of the revised edition.

Beef ups in chapters aimed primarily at sustaining explanations or extending arguments to realms of enhancing knowledge (to the student particularly) have characterized the new edition. Chapter Five – Blocking and Rehearsing the Play was blended into one in the revised edition hence depriving them of their independence in the first edition. Similarly, Chapter Thirteen—The Audience of the Theatre and The Nigerian Audience; which also enjoyed their individual stances as chapters, were Fused into one in the revised edition. It was wisely economical and critically sensible to do so.

Chapter Six —The Role of the Actor in the Production, incorporated in the revised edition, acting theories of Stanislavki’s School and Grotowski’s School. This was expedient not just to raise the level of scholarship in acting discourse, but more importantly, to expose the students and other readers to the ideas of two practitioners who have exerted unprecedented influences on the acting career. Also injected into the sinews of that chapter is the issue of the actor’s personal hygiene. Chapter Eight in the introductory bit, roams through “The Director’s Persona, Credo and Functions”. It also attempts at differentiating the terms “Concept”, “Style” and “Approach”. This was not there at first. Chapter Nine attaches attacks on dialectalism with a view to freeing cluttering tongues from encumbering spoken English Language.

Chapter Eleven beefs up the house management adjunct of the work by including requisite credentials of the house manager and that of the business manager.

In all, whereas the first edition had eighteen (18) Chapters, the revised edition comes with fifteen (15) Chapters, not just because of the Fused Chapters, but also the fact that two Chapters were literally excluded from the volume, namely Chapters 16 and 17 “Once upon a Production” and “A Thesis on Traditional Theatre: The Case of Ekpo Masquerade Performance of Uyo”.

The reason? What Uncle Femi taught us, namely,” Critical Precision!”

I am happy to present the revised edition of Play Production Processes to you. I am absolutely excited about the way it has turned out and I invite you to share this great moment with me.

Thanks for obliging. God bless.

Effiong Johnson Ph.D.
Professor of Theatre Arts (Directing &Production) and Aesthetics.
University of Uyo
Akwa Ibom State.
Nigeria WA.
January 2010


Every new book, to all those capable of reading, arrives like the announcement of a newborn baby into the world, bringing
excitement and expectation, but also a slight fear of the unknown. You open it with trembling hands, your heart palpitating, and you begin a dialogue with an author which may well alter your views or your ways of life forever.
Quite often however, the book does not go that far or as deeply’ nor does it really need to. The intentions behind a book differ from author to author, and will vary, even in the career of
the same writer, from one cover to another. While some books amuse, others may bring pain; while some instruct some can lead astray. Some are so complex they require further books to help us penetrate their meaning.
But happily however, some writers wish to share their knowledge of a profession in which they have garnered much experience, and which they believe will help such readers who may be planning to follow in their footsteps. In addition, these writers may also intend to provoke their own colleagues, who are as equally or even more experienced than they, into a fresh
debate about the profession, probably in order to expose some of the prevailing practices to serious re—examination.

Prof. Effiong Johnson’s new book, Play Production Processes, is of this last category, a beautifully professional book, but Free of the arcane jargon of academia. It is of course not his first excursion into the world of publishing. His first major work was on playwriting, and just as in that book, it is his style that most strongly and immediately recommends it. Prof. Johnson’s approach is deliberately relaxed and conversational, even when the material he is dealing with emanates From the rich archives of the expert that he so obviously is. Unlike other scholars who want to impress and bedazzle, Johnson’s aim is clearly to seduce, explain, and assist. He wants to lead his reader into the world of play production with as much love and authority as possible, so that the beginner is not scared away: And because the book is intended to reach the widest spectrum of readership possible, the language is always simple-flowing, and accessible without requiring the mediation of any other scholar to interpret it. The
chapters are logically laid out, and each terminates with a list of leading questions, which help to summarize the main points of the topic treated. It is clear therefore that, both in conception and layout, the book has benefited a lot from the author’s pedagogic experience.

One last point, which I believe worth mentioning, is the list of anecdotes, with which the book is continuously and generously sprinkled, anecdotes which come from the author’s personal involvement with actors and directors in Nigeria over a long span of years. These give the book an added weight of authority,
by serving as concrete illustrations to the abstract ideas which a newcomer would not otherwise have found easy to grasp.

This is a work therefore that I expect to sell itself easily, on account of its own merits. Prof. Johnson has again opened a door which will Facilitate the fluid passage of newcomers to the
profession, and give us an important manual to be proud of.

Prof. Femi Osofisan
University of Ibadan, Nigeria

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