As the holiday season reaches its climax but daylight remains on short supply, reading season kicks into high gear. Thankfully, there's plenty of new books for theatre lovers to check out while getting cozy by the fireplace (the real kind or streaming on Netflix). This winter, there are several spotlights on female leaders in the industry like Lorraine Hansberry and Martha Graham, biographies on Tom Stoppard and Mike Nicholas, and even a novel that flips Romeo & Juliet into a hip-hopera school drama.
Check out the full list below (last updated February 10, 2021). Looking for more ideas? Check out these 18 books that came out last fall.
Conversations with Lorraine Hansberry
Edited by Mollie Godfrey
This collection of interviews with the playwright, including many from radio and television that have never before appeared in print, offers a look at Hansberry’s aesthetic and political thought. The twenty-one interviews collected range from just before the Broadway premiere of A Raisin in the Sun to less than six months before her passing. Available now from University Press of Mississippi.
Onstage with Martha Graham
By Stuart Hodes
This first-hand account of being a dancer under Martha Graham examines how Hodes, a WWII bomber pilot, became one of the choreographer’s lead partners in works like Appalachian Spring and Every Soul Is a Circus. The memoir gives classic arts lovers a look at the world of dance in the ‘40s and ‘50s as Hodes travels across America, Europe, and Asia with the company. Not just his own story, the author offers readers a direct line to Graham and how she operated as a choreographer, mentor, and friend. Available now from University Press of Florida.
Drama Menu at a Distance: 80 Socially Distanced or Online Theatre Games
By Glyn Trefor-Jones
This new collection—created specifically to help anyone teaching drama during the COVID-19 pandemic—offers dozens of games and exercises, all of which are safe and secure to play as part of a socially distanced or virtual curriculum. It offers new exercises to energize and inspire alongside some Drama Menu favorites, redesigned to be played in 2020. Available now from Nick Hern Books.
Roman and Jewel
By Dana L. Davis
This is the story of a girl who thinks she has what it takes...and the world thinks so, too. Jerzie Jhames will do anything to land the lead role in Broadway's hottest new show, Roman and Jewel, a Romeo and Juliet–inspired hip-hopera featuring a diverse cast and modern twists on the play. But her hopes are crushed when she learns mega-star Cinny won the lead...and Jerzie is her understudy. Available now from Inkyard Press.
Indigenous Women’s Theatre in Canada: A Mechanism of Decolonization
By Sarah MacKenzie
Focusing on plays by Indigenous women written and produced in the socio-cultural milieu of 20th and 21st century Canada, MacKenzie explores dramatic texts by Monique Mojica, Marie Clements, and Yvette Nolan. Looking at these plays, the author posits how representation in drama can affect real change in the world today. Available now from Fernwood.
Dan Mason: From Vaudeville to Broadway to the Silent Screen
By Joseph P. Eckhardt
This first-ever biography of the American comedian explores the roots of his craft and the challenges he faced navigating the rapidly changing world of popular entertainment in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Available now from McFarland.
Another Day’s Begun
By Howard Sherman
Thornton Wilder’s Our Town has evolved to become a vintage slice of early 20th century Americana since its debut over 80 years ago. In this retrospective, Sherman shines a light on the play’s continued impact and makes a case for the healing powers of Wilder's text in a world confronting multiple crises. Available now from Methuen Drama.
Mike Nichols: A Life
By Mark Harris
The EGOT-winning director (with eight directing Tonys) of Broadway’s The Odd Couple, Spamalot, and more had a storied career. But what of his early life? In this new biography, Harris explores Nichols’ journey to America in the early ‘30s and the hardships he faced growing up—and how being an outsider offered him a collection of tools that made him one of the industry’s most revered auteurs. Available now from Penguin Press.
We Play Ourselves
By Jen Silverman
Cass was a promising young playwright in New York but after finding herself at the center of a scandal, she escapes to L.A. and meets Caroline, a documentary filmmaker on the rise. Drawn to this artist, as well as the teenage girls who started their own fight club and become subjects of Caroline’s next project, Cass is awed by Caroline’s ambition and confidence. But over time, she becomes troubled by how deeply Caroline is manipulating the teens in the name of artespecially as the consequences become increasingly disturbing. Available now from Penguin Random House.
By Liz Heinecke
The true story of Marie Curie and Loie Fuller (considered by many to be a pioneer of modern dance), two revolutionary women drawn together at the dawn of a new era by a singular discovery, and the lifelong friendship that grew out of their shared passion for enlightenment. Available February 16 from Grand Central Publishing.
The Tale of the Mandarin Duck
By Bette Midler with an afterword by Michiko Kakutani
Inspired by the real-life rainbow-colored Mandarin Duck who appeared in New York’s Central Park in 2018, this modern fable by the Tony winner celebrates the connections people make with each other and the world around them. Available February 16 from Penguin Random House.
Tom Stoppard: A Life
By Hermoine Lee
The four-time Tony-winning playwright gets his own spotlight in a new biography. Stoppard’s most recent work is the Olivier-winning Leopoldstadt, which began its run in London last February. Among his 13 plays that have bowed on Broadway—in a total of 18 productions—are his debut work Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Travesties, The Real Thing, and the three-part The Coast of Utopia. Available February 23 from Knopf.
By Mitchell James Kaplan
One evening in 1924, Katharine “Kay” Swift meets George Gershwin, embarking upon a ten-year love affair. Conflicted by loyalty to her husband and the twists and turns of her own musical career, Kay and George’s relationship comes to a sudden end 10 years later. Set in Jazz Age New York City, this new work of fiction explores the timeless bond between two brilliant, strong-willed artists. Available March 2 from Gallery Books.
AMORALMAN: A True Story and Other Lies Hardcover
By Derek DelGaudio
Using his youthful notebook entries as a road map, DelGaudio embarks on a journey retracing the path that led him to a world populated by charlatans, card cheats, and con artists. As stories are peeled away and artifices revealed, the creator of In & Of Itself questions his own sense of morality and discovers that even a master of deception can find himself trapped inside an illusion. Available March 2 from Deckle Edge.