This book is a detailed description of the intensive work process involved in the making of Toy Symphony, a new play by Michael Gow, directed by Neil Armfield and brought to the stage for the first time in December 2007 by Company B at the Belvoir Street Theatre in Sydney. Drawing on many
years of pioneering research into the nature of contemporary rehearsal practice, Gay McAuley rejects simplistic notions of playwright or director as "auteur". Her account makes possible a more nuanced understanding of the real artistry involved in what it is that the director does and what the
playwright contributes to the process, as well as facilitating a deeper appreciation of the profoundly collaborative nature of theatrical creation.
The book is in two parts. The first describes the work process and the complex relations between participants noted by McAuley during her intensive observation of the rehearsal period and intermittent presence throughout the run of the production. Heavily indebted to contemporary ethnographic
practice, this description is concerned not only with the aesthetic choices involved in the creation of a work of art but also with the institutional, social and cultural contexts within which the work process is embedded. The second part consists of a number of essays reflecting on aspects of the
work observed, and providing a theoretical framework for deeper understanding of the rehearsal practices described. McAuley concludes that contemporary theatre constitutes a highly effective model of group creativity that could be applied in many different institutional contexts.