While you’re relaxing this summer, whether lying by the pool, going on vacations, or just taking some downtime, you can also continue learning and bettering your program through a summer reading list. Books on the history of theatre, famous theatre makers, and how to hone your craft can help you run a more successful program, better mentor your actors and crew, get organized for the season to come, and operate with more empathy. On The Stage presents a few suggestions to add to your list. 

Letters to a Young Artist: Straight-up Advice on Making a Life in the Arts 

By: Anna Deavere Smith

Described as inspiring and no-nonsense, Letters to a Young Artist finds award-winning writer Anna Deavere Smith passing on her knowledge to the next generation of artists. Through anecdotal letters, Smith addresses issues including artistic integrity, confidence, discipline, networking, self-esteem, fame, failure, and the artist’s role in promoting social change and building diversity. 

In the Heights: Finding Home

By: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Quiara Alegría Hudes, and Jeremy Carter
Fans of the work of Lin-Manuel Miranda (so, everyone) will surely want to pick this one up. In it, he reunites with Jeremy Carter, co-author of Hamilton: The Revolution, and Quiara Alegría Hudes, the Pulitzer Prize-winning librettist of the Broadway musical In the Heights and screenwriter of the film. The trio gives an in-depth look into the creative life of In The Heights and the impressive amount of work and creativity it took to get the production to the level of success it eventually reached.  

An Actor Prepares

By: Konstantin Stanislavski

Written through the lens of a fictional student named Kostya in his first year of actor training, this autobiographical piece centers around the craft of acting and stimulates creativity and imagination as he hones his skills. Kostya goes through a training that will later become known as the Stanislavski System – a systematic approach to training actors that the Russian theatre practitioner Konstantin Stanislavski developed in the first half of the twentieth century. In the novel, topics addressed include mastering action, imagination, attention, and relaxation.

The Chance to Fly 

By: Ali Stroker and Stacy Davidowitz
The Chance to Fly follows thirteen-year-old Nat Beacon, who spends her days with her dog Warbucks, her best friend Chloe and often competes on her wheelchair racing team, the Zoomers. Chloe is an avid lover of musicals, although she’s never been cast in one nor seen an actor in a wheelchair on stage. This one teaches some great lessons on diversity and inclusion for youngsters.

Footnotes: The Black Artists Who Rewrote the Rules of the Great White Way (The Sparkling Story of Broadway’s Black History Heartbreaks and Triumph)

By: Caseen Gaines
This novel follows Sissle and Blake, along with comedians Flournoy Miller and Aubrey Lyles, as they overcome poverty, violence, and racism to harness the power of the Harlem Renaissance and produce a Broadway hit. Their work eventually launched various careers for Black performers in a tumultuous time in American history rife with racial injustice. 

50 Women in Theatre

By: Marsha Norman, Daryl Roth, and Cheryl Robson

For a deep dive into gender inequality in the theatre, open up 50 Women in Theatre. The authors discuss the scarcity of female-created plays and roles in the book, even though women buy most theatre tickets. With an overview of post-war theatre and 25 interviews with female theatre-makers, the book paves the way for a more inclusive future in the performing arts. 

The Stephen Sondheim Encyclopedia

By: Rick Pender

Fans of Stephen Sondheim or one of his many genius productions should surely add this to your summer reading list. The incredibly detailed encyclopedia is devoted to musical theater’s most prolific and admired composer and lyricist. You’ll find various information on his shows and collaborators – from composers and directors to designers and more. Also, you can read profiles of the actors who originated Sondheim roles, including Ethel Merman, Angela Lansbury, Mandy Patinkin, and Bernadette Peters. 

On The Stage’s Robust Library

By: The OTS Team

If you’re seeking swift, effortless, and enlightening reads on a diverse range of theatre-related subjects, why not explore the extensive content library of On The Stage? Whether you’re in need of troubleshooting solutions for theatre challenges or simply eager to enhance your skills as a theatremaker, our resource library offers a wealth of content encompassing a wide array of topics. This summer, you can invigorate your creative journey with captivating eBooks such as The Theatre Postmortem Demystified, A Theatre Company’s Guide to Summer Success, and our Guide to Last Minute Fundraising. You can also head over to our blog for fan favorites like 12 Proven Ways to Increase Ticket Sales, The Future of Theatre: Emerging Trends in the Industry, or check out our inspiring trailblazer series, highlighting incredible individuals and their contributions to the performing arts.

So what are you waiting for? Sit back, relax, and browse our library for a fun and educational summer!