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Irish Revivalist playwright J. M. Synge is often regarded as a realist. Yet what happens when his work is analysed through wider performance studies and situated alongside less familiar historical contexts? By addressing this question, Hélène Lecossois offers new and valuable perspectives on Synge's plays while at the same time engaging with the complexity of his treatment of a range of performance practices – from keening at rural funerals to the performances of 'native villagers' in the entertainment section of International Exhibitions. What emerges from her study is a dramatist acutely aware of the ability of theatre in performance to counteract relentless forward-moving narratives of modernity. Through detailed, contextualized case studies, the book simultaneously makes meaningful contributions to performance studies and opens up theoretical questions of performance relating to the status of the object on stage, the body on stage and theatrical time.
The Companion is an essential, interdisciplinary tool for those both familiar and unfamiliar with Wagner's Ring. It opens with a concise introduction to both the composer and the Ring, introducing Wagner as a cultural figure, and giving a comprehensive overview of the work. Subsequent chapters, written by leading Wagner experts, focus on musical topics such as 'leitmotif', and structure, and provide a comprehensive set of character portraits, including leading players like Wotan, Brünnhilde, and Siegfried. Further chapters look to the mythological background of the work and the idea of the Bayreuth Festival, as well as critical reception of the Ring, its relationship to Nazism, and its impact on literature and popular culture, in turn offering new approaches to interpretation including gender, race and environmentalism. The volume ends with a history of notable stage productions from the world premiere in 1876 to the most recent stagings in Bayreuth and elsewhere.
Hamlet is a characteristic intellectual more inclined to lecture actors about their craft than listen to them, and is a precursor of Enlightenment figures like Diderot and Lessing. This book is a quest for the voice of early professional actors, drawing on English, French and other European sources to distinguish the methods of professionals from the theories of intellectual amateurs. David Wiles challenges the orthodoxy that all serious discussion of acting began with Stanislavski, and outlines the comprehensive but fluid classical system of acting which was for some three hundred years its predecessor. He reveals premodern acting as a branch of rhetoric, which took from antiquity a vocabulary for conversations about the relationship of mind and body, inside and outside, voice and movement. Wiles demonstrates that Roman rhetoric provided the bones of both a resilient theatrical system and a physical art that retains its relevance for the post-Stanislavskian performer.
Konstantin Stanislavsky (1863–1938) was one of the most innovative and influential directors of modern theatre and his system and related practices continue to be studied and used by actors, directors and students. Maria Shevtsova sheds new light on the extraordinary life of Stanislavsky, uncovering and translating Russian archival sources, rehearsal transcripts, production scores and plans. This comprehensive study rediscovers little-known areas of Stanislavsky's new type of theatre and its immersion in the visual arts, dance and opera. It demonstrates the fundamental importance of his Russian Orthodoxy to the worldview that underpinned his integrated System and his goals for the six laboratory research studios that he established or mentored. Stanislavsky's massive achievements are explored in the intricate and historically intertwined political, cultural and theatre contexts of Tsarist Russia, the 1917 Revolution, the volatile 1920s, and Stalin's 1930s. Rediscovering Stanislavksy provides a completely fresh perspective on his work and legacy.
The rich legacy of women's contributions to Irish theatre is traditionally viewed through a male-dominated literary canon and mythmaking, thus arguably silencing their work. In this timely book, Shonagh Hill proposes a feminist genealogy which brings new perspectives to women's mythmaking across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The performances considered include the tableaux vivants performed by the Inghinidhe na hÉireann (Daughters of Ireland), plays written by Alice Milligan, Maud Gonne, Lady Augusta Gregory, Eva Gore-Booth, Mary Devenport O'Neill, Mary Elizabeth Burke-Kennedy, Paula Meehan, Edna O'Brien and Marina Carr, as well as plays translated, adapted and performed by Olwen Fouéré. The theatrical work discussed resists the occlusion of women's cultural engagement that results from confinement to idealised myths of femininity. This is realised through embodied mythmaking: a process which exposes how bodies bear the consequences of these myths, while refusing to accept the female body as passive bearer of inscription through the assertion of a creative female corporeality.
The study of singers' art has emerged as a prominent area of inquiry within musicology in recent years. Female Singers on the French Stage, 1830–1848 shifts the focus from the artwork onstage to the labour that went on behind the scenes. Through extensive analysis of primary source documents, Kimberly White explores the profession of singing, operatic culture, and the representation of female performers on the French stage between 1830 and 1848, and reveals new perspectives on the social, economic, and cultural status of these women. The book attempts to reconstruct and clarify contemporary practices of the singer at work, including vocal training, débuts, rehearsals and performance schedules, touring, benefit concerts, and retirement, as well as the strategies utilized in publicity and image making. Dozens of case studies, many compiled from singers' correspondence and archival papers, shed light on the performers' successes and struggles at a time when Paris was the operatic centre of Europe.
The commedia dell'arte, the improvised Italian theatre that dominated the European stage from 1550 to 1750, is arguably the most famous theatre tradition to emerge from Europe in the early modern period. Its celebrated masks have come to symbolize theatre itself and have become part of the European cultural imagination. Over the past twenty years a revolution in commedia dell'arte scholarship has taken place, generated mainly by a number of distinguished Italian scholars. Their work, in which they have radically separated out the myth from the history of the phenomenon remains, however, largely untranslated into English (or any other language). The present volume gathers together these Italian and English-speaking scholars to synthesize for the first time this research for both specialist and non-specialist readers. The book is structured around key topics that span both the early modern period and the twentieth-century reinvention of the commedia dell'arte.
Henrik Ibsen's drama is the most prominent and lasting contribution of the cultural surge seen in Scandinavian literature in the later nineteenth century. When he made his debut in Norway in 1850, the nation's literary presence was negligible, yet by 1890 Ibsen had become one of Europe's most famous authors. Contrary to the standard narrative of his move from restrictive provincial origins to liberating European exile, Narve Fulsås and Tore Rem show how Ibsen's trajectory was preconditioned on his continued embeddedness in Scandinavian society and culture, and that he experienced great success in his home markets. This volume traces how Ibsen's works first travelled outside Scandinavia and studies the mechanisms of his appropriation in Germany, Britain and France. Engaging with theories of book dissemination and world literature, and re-assessing the emergence of 'peripheral' literary nations, this book provides new perspectives on the work of this major figure of European literature and theatre.
This first general history of Greek theatre from Hellenistic times to the foundation of the Modern Greek state in 1830 marks a radical departure from traditional methods of historiography. We like to think of history unfolding continuously, in an evolutionary form, but the story of Greek theatre is rather different. After traditional theatre ended in the sixth and seventh centuries, no traditional drama was written or performed on stage throughout the Greek-speaking world for centuries due to the Orthodox Church's hostile attitude toward spectacles. With the reinvention of theatre in Renaissance Italy, however, Greek theatre was revived in Crete under Venetian rule in the late sixteenth century. The following centuries saw the restoration of Greek theatre at various locations, albeit characterized by numerous ruptures and discontinuities in terms of geography, stylistics, thematic approaches and ideologies. These diverse developments were only 'normalized' with the establishment of the Greek nation state.
It is time to change the way we talk about writing in theater. This book offers a new argument that reimagines modern theater's critical power and places innovative writing at the heart of the experimental stage. While performance studies, German Theaterwissenschaft, and even text-based drama studies have commonly envisioned theatrical performance as something that must operate beyond the limits of the textual imagination, this book shows how a series of writers have actively shaped new conceptions of theater's radical potential. Engaging with a range of theorists, including Theodor Adorno, Jarcho reveals a modern tradition of 'negative theatrics,' whose artists undermine the here and now of performance in order to challenge the value and the power of the existing world. This vision emerges through surprising new readings of modernist classics - by Henry James, Gertrude Stein, and Samuel Beckett - as well as contemporary American works by Suzan-Lori Parks, Elevator Repair Service, and Mac Wellman.
This book revives what was unique, strange and exciting about the variety of performances that took place in the realms of the French kings and Burgundian dukes. Laura Weigert brings together a wealth of visual artifacts and practices to explore this tradition of late medieval performance located not in 'theaters' but in churches, courts, and city streets and squares. By stressing the theatricality rather than the realism of fifteenth-century visual culture and the spectacular rather than the devotional nature of its effects, she offers a new way of thinking about late medieval representation and spectatorship. She shows how images that ostensibly document medieval performance instead revise its characteristic features to conform to a playgoing experience that was associated with classical antiquity. This retrospective vision of the late medieval performance tradition contributed to its demise in sixteenth-century France and promoted assumptions about medieval theater that continue to inform the contemporary disciplines of art and theater history.
Culture and cognition work together dynamically every time a spectator interprets meaning during a performance. In this study, Bruce McConachie examines the biocultural basis of all performance, from its origins and the cognitive processes that facilitate it, to what keeps us coming back for more. To effect this major reorientation, McConachie works within the scientific paradigm of enaction, which explains all human activities, including performances, as the interactions of mental, bodily, and ecological networks. He goes on to use our biocultural proclivity for altruism, as revealed in performance, to explore our species' gradual ethical progress on such matters as the changing norms of religious sacrifice, slavery, and LGBT rights. Along the way, the book engages with a wide range of performances, including Richard Pryor's stand-up, the film Titanic, aerialist performances, American football, and the stage and film versions of A Streetcar Named Desire.
The Berliner Ensemble was founded by Bertolt Brecht and his wife Helene Weigel in 1949. The company soon gained international prominence, and its productions and philosophy influenced the work of theatre-makers around the world. David Barnett's book is the first study of the company in any language. Based on extensive archival research, it uncovers Brecht's working methods and those of the company's most important directors after his death. The book considers the boon and burden of Brecht's legacy, and provides new insights into battles waged behind the scenes for the preservation of the Brechtian tradition. The Berliner Ensemble was also the German Democratic Republic's most prestigious cultural export, attracting attention from the highest circles of government, and from the Stasi, before it privatised itself after German reunification in 1990. Barnett pieces together a complex history that sheds light on both the company's groundbreaking productions and their turbulent times.
Henrik Ibsen's plays came at a pivotal moment in late nineteenth-century European modernity. They engaged his public through a strategic use of metaphors of house and home, which resonated with experiences of displacement, philosophical homelessness, and exile. The most famous of these metaphors - embodied by the titles of his plays A Doll's House, Pillars of Society, and The Master Builder - have entered into mainstream Western thought in ways that mask the full force of the reversals Ibsen performed on notions of architectural space. Analyzing literary and performance-related reception materials from Ibsen's lifetime, Mark B. Sandberg concentrates on the interior dramas of the playwright's prose-play cycle, drawing also on his selected poems. Sandberg's close readings of texts and cultural commentary present the immediate context of the plays, provide new perspectives on them for international readers, and reveal how Ibsen became a master of the modern uncanny.
In the late eighteenth century, a movement to transform France's theatre architecture united the nation. Playwrights, philosophers, and powerful agents including King Louis XV rejected the modified structures that had housed the plays of Racine and Molière, and debated which playhouse form should support the future of French stagecraft. In The First Frame, Pannill Camp argues that these reforms helped to lay down the theoretical and practical foundations of modern theatre space. Examining dramatic theory, architecture, and philosophy, Camp explores how architects, dramatists, and spectators began to see theatre and scientific experimentation as parallel enterprises. During this period of modernisation, physicists began to cite dramatic theory and adopt theatrical staging techniques, while playwrights sought to reveal observable truths of human nature. Camp goes on to show that these reforms had consequences for the way we understand both modern theatrical aesthetics and the production of scientific knowledge in the present day.
In the decades before the Second World War, popular musical theatre was one of the most influential forms of entertainment. This is the first book to reconstruct early popular musical theatre as a transnational and highly cosmopolitan industry that included everything from revues and operettas to dance halls and cabaret. Bringing together contributors from Britain and Germany, this collection moves beyond national theatre histories to study Anglo-German relations at a period of intense hostility and rivalry. Chapters frame the entertainment zones of London and Berlin against the wider trading routes of cultural transfer, where empire and transatlantic song and dance produced, perhaps for the first time, a genuinely international culture. Exploring adaptations and translations of works under the influence of political propaganda, this collection will be of interest both to musical theatre enthusiasts and to those interested in the wider history of modernism.
How was medieval English theatre performed? Many of the modern theatrical concepts and terms used today to discuss the nature of medieval English theatre were never used in medieval times. Concepts and terms such as character, characterisation, truth and belief, costume, acting style, amateur, professional, stage directions, effects and special effects are all examples of post-medieval terms that have been applied to the English theatre. Little has been written about staging conventions in the performance of medieval English theatre and the identity and value of these conventions has often been overlooked. In this book, Philip Butterworth analyses dormant evidence of theatrical processes such as casting, doubling of parts, rehearsing, memorising, cueing, entering, exiting, playing, expounding, prompting, delivering effects, timing, hearing, seeing and responding. All these concerns point to a very different kind of theatre to the naturalistic theatre produced today.
The concept of the public sphere, as first outlined by German philosopher Jürgen Habermas, refers to the right of all citizens to engage in debate on public issues on equal terms. In this book, Christopher B. Balme explores theatre's role in this crucial political and social function. He traces its origins and argues that the theatrical public sphere invariably focuses attention on theatre as an institution between the shifting borders of the private and public, reasoned debate and agonistic intervention. Chapters explore this concept in a variety of contexts, including the debates that led to the closure of British theatres in 1642, theatre's use of media, controversies surrounding race, religion and blasphemy, and theatre's place in a new age of globalised aesthetics. Balme concludes by addressing the relationship of theatre today with the public sphere and whether theatre's transformation into an art form has made it increasingly irrelevant for contemporary society.
The Panic Theatre is a set of plays conceived by Fernando Arrabal between 1957 and 1966, the author's first years in Paris. Composed at the zenith of the avant-garde movement, they convey a radically new and challenging theatricality whose cornerstone is their ceremonial shape. The plays' underlying panic ceremony is thoroughly studied in light of Arrabal's programmatic text Le Panique, that singles out three key concepts responsible for artistic creation: memory, chance and confusion. This study shows how memory determines the plays' departure from mimesis and how chance articulates the materials recalled from memory into precisely arranged plots. Furthermore, subjects, objects, spatial-temporal frames and words are subject to confusion, in an attempt to create an utterly innovative form of theatre. This group of seemingly heterogeneous plays is given theoretical coherence and consistency by placing the idea of panic at the centre of a great formal experimentation. Diego Santos Sánchez is a full-time researcher at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.
Seamus Heaney once described the 'sense of place' generated by the early Abbey theatre as the 'imaginative protein' of later Irish writing. Drawing on theorists of space such as Henri Lefebvre and Yi-Fu Tuan, Mapping Irish Theatre argues that theatre is 'a machine for making place from space'. Concentrating on Irish theatre, the book investigates how this Irish 'sense of place' was both produced by, and produced, the remarkable work of the Irish Revival, before considering what happens when this spatial formation begins to fade. Exploring more recent site-specific and place-specific theatre alongside canonical works of Irish theatre by playwrights including J. M. Synge, Samuel Beckett and Brian Friel, the study proposes an original theory of theatrical space and theatrical identification, whose application extends beyond Irish theatre, and will be useful for all theatre scholars.