Apar Books has launched a new site devoted to one of its most popular books, A DOCTOR & A PLUMBER IN A ROWBOAT: THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO IMPROVISATION, by Carol Schindler and Tom Soter.
The book, which features theory and practical exercises involving improv, draws on the experiences both authors have had in teaching improvisation and is available from Amazon.
“It was wonderful collaborating with Carol, though we did have some difficulties in producing the final product,” Soter recalls. “The book was quite different in its original form. When we started, I suggested to Carol that rather than a straight ‘how to’ book, we should present the book as a discussion of improv, with the two of us talking to each other about how to do improv. Although I didn’t tell Carol this, in my mind the model for the book would be Hitchcock/Truffaut, the volume featuring a conversation between the two famous film directors, Alfred Hitchcock and Francois Truffaut. We actually did our book that way, and, after months of effort (Carol would write her comments and I’d add mine and vice versa), we showed the galleys of our efforts to friends. The reaction was not what we expected. One person said the conversational format was confusing and off-putting; another said that we were presenting ourselves as big stars and that distracted from the content. One person actually liked the ‘discussion approach,’ and praised us for our originality. In a panic, we ended up redoing the book in a more conventional format, keeping some of the dialogue exchanges for the sidebars scattered throughout the text. I still think the initial idea had merit. For those who are interested in the original format, I included some of it in my new book, DRIVING ME CRAZY.”
The book is also available with two different covers: one is more sedate and abstract, an elegant edition designed by Michael Gentile. “Carol likes that edition for corporate clients who may be intimidated by a book that screams out, ‘Improv!'”
Soter felt, however, that a cover that does some screaming was what was needed to sell the book in stores like The Drama Bookshop, in Manhattan, where the title is on sale. “We used a great photograph of Chicago City Limits,” Soter said. “It’s a catchy cover.”