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This roundtable discussion with Hélène Cixous took place at St John's College, Cambridge, on 20 September 2014 as part of the Cambridge ‘Conference for a Poetics of Critical Political Theatre in Europe’. It was subsequently transcribed and prepared for publication by Joseph Long and Eva Urban to pay homage to the acclaimed critical theorist, novelist, and dramatist Hélène Cixous on her eightieth birthday on 5 June 2017, and to celebrate her important contribution in particular to political European theatre. The conversation centres on the recurring themes of her major plays, many of which were written in creative collaboration with Ariane Mnouchkine and the Théâtre du Soleil, where they were performed. Her epic modern tragedies are deeply concerned with ethics, politics, social criticism, and ideas of utopian social projects and their tragic failures. Here Cixous, with Maria Shevtsova, Joseph Long, Eric Prenowitz, Marta Segarra, and Eva Urban highlight both the passionate political commitment of her plays and their innovative textual and poetic forms within the wider context of Cixous's writings for the theatre.1 The conversation followed a keynote address by NTQ co-editor Maria Shevtsova, attended by Hélène Cixous, prior to the roundtable discussion, and published as ‘Political Theatre in Europe: East to West, 2007–2014’, in New Theatre Quarterly, XXXII, No. 2 (May 2016).
In the many discussions of the different shapes and capacities of the playhouses of Elizabethan and Jacobean London, insufficient attention has been paid to the impact of differing theatre forms upon the spectators. In this article, Andrew Gurr points out that the first Globe on Bankside, built from the timbers of the Theatre in Shoreditch, and the Fortune, erected for Henslowe's company on the other side of the river, just to the north of the City, were both the work of the same builder, Peter Street. He discusses the differences the shapes of the two playhouses – the Globe polygonal, the Fortune square – had on their construction and the spectators’ reception. Because the audience capacity had to be similar, this meant that spectators at the Fortune, especially latecomers, would need to squeeze into corners of the building, with their ability to see and hear what was happening on stage much restricted. In addition to his many books, among them the now classic study, The Shakespearean Stage, 1574–1642 (1992), Andrew Gurr was chief academic advisor in the ‘rebuilding’ of Shakespeare's Globe on the South Bank. He is Professor Emeritus at the University of Reading.
In this interview, award-winning actress Jane Lapotaire talks about the process of devel - op ing the central role in Pam Gems's Piaf, for which she won the Tony Award for Best Actress in 1981. She further describes how Gems gave her the chance to play a protagonist for the first time in her career in the British male-dominated theatre of the late 1970s. Gems established herself as a major feminist playwright in the British theatre in 1976 with the production of Dusa, Fish, Stas and Vi, although it was Piaf that brought her international attention and acclaim. Lapotaire discusses the significance of the female mission to create protagonist roles for women in the theatre who did not previously have the opportunity to drive a play's narrative. Esmaeil Najar is a translator, director, and theatre historian. He is currently writing his doctoral dissertation at the Ohio State University on Pam Gems's life and impact on British theatre.
In NTQ 123 (August 2015) Michael Walling, Artistic Director of Border Crossings, wrote about his production of This Flesh is Mine, adapted by Brian Woolland from the Iliad. Here he discusses When Nobody Returns, based on The Odyssey, a co-production with Palestine's Ashtar Theatre that reflected contemporary events in a way that was not allegorical but allusive. He explores how the play related to its 2016 context in terms of the refugee crisis, the idea of occupation, and the concept of return. As well as describing the generation of meaning through the interaction of text and context, the piece explores the production in relation to Border Crossings’ wider programme of work, which also includes community engagement with refugees and policy consultation.When Nobody Returns was written by Brian Woolland and co-produced by Border Crossings, Ashtar Theatre, and the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. It was funded by Arts Council England, British Council Palestine, RBKC's Nour Festival, Arts University Bournemouth, and Rose Bruford College.
Adaptation in contemporary performance takes on different forms and engages various strategies. In this article, Frank Camilleri explores the subject in terms of compositional devising via his practice as research in the area. He considers adaptation as a process of adjustment and modification that occurs at the level of format or organization, and which results from a change in context. He proposes terminological and structural frameworks, namely types, movements, modes, and phases of adaption. These taxonomies are then subsequently exemplified through three case studies from the author's performance and pedagogical work. Frank Camilleri is Associate Professor in Theatre Studies at the University of Malta, where he is Director of the School of Performing Arts and leads P21 (Performance 21), the research centre for Twenty-first Century Studies in Performance. He is Artistic Director of Icarus Performance Project and co-edits the Routledge/Icarus ‘Theatre as a Laboratory’ series.
From the late 1950s onwards, young rock ‘n’ roll musicians and popular singers were introduced into commercial Christmas pantomime productions. While this practice, which constituted an extension of their involvement in the broader sphere of variety theatre, has been previously noted, it is seldom accorded much sustained attention. In this article Gillian Mitchell explores the impact which such performers made upon pantomime, while observing the ways in which involvement in pantomime productions affected their careers and aspirations. ‘Pop stars’ brought much-needed revenue to struggling theatres, and, while their presence onstage alongside experienced pantomime performers sometimes attracted criticism, they also contributed in many ways to a reinvigoration of the medium, whether by offering fresh scope for topical gags, or by giving ambitious producers the chance to more more experimental types of production. The article also questions the notion that, by the late 1960s, pantomime had become a ‘last refuge’ for those popular musicians who were apparently unable to maintain a foothold in the increasingly ‘serious’ world of rock music. Gillian A.M. Mitchell is a Lecturer in Modern History at the University of St Andrews. This article forms part of a larger project which explores adult reactions to popular music and inter-generational relations in Britain from the 1950s to the 1970s.
In this article Steve Wilmer discusses adaptations of Greek tragedy that highlight the plight of the displaced and the dispossessed, including Janusz Glowacki's Antigone in New York, Marina Carr's Hecuba, and Elfriede Jelinek's Die Schutzbefohlenen, which is notably emblematic among appropriations of ancient Greek plays in referencing the problems facing refugees in Europe. He considers how this latter play has been directed in a variety of ways in Germany and Austria since 2013, and how in turn it has been reappropriated for new dramatic performances to further investigate the conditions of refugees. Some of these productions have caused political controversy and one of them has even been physically attacked by a right-wing group. Steve Wilmer is Professor Emeritus of Drama at Trinity College Dublin. He is the co-editor of ‘Theatre and Statelessness in Europe’ for Critical Stages (2016), Resisting Biopolitics: Philosophical, Political, and Performative Strategies (Routledge, 2016), and Deleuze and Beckett (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). He also edited a special issue of Nordic Theatre Studies in 2015 titled ‘Theatre and the Nomadic Subject’.
The 2017 Golden Mask and National Theatre Award and Festival in Moscow offered, as it usually does, a wide range of large- and small-scale theatre, musical theatre, opera, ballet, contemporary dance, and puppetry – a month and more of intensive activity that keeps its annually changing jury on its toes. Maria Shevtsova provides an overview of the Russian Case: a concentration of productions for foreign producers and critics that reflects quite accurately the Golden Mask's complete spoken theatre selection (as distinct from other forms of theatre such as dance). She observes that a cluster of productions refers to rebellions and revolutions that preceded the 1917 October Revolution, though none deals directly with that event. Remaining works allude in various ways to more recent Russian and global history, showing how its makers are sensitive to a past that filters through the more than troubling present. Maria Shevtsova, Professor at Goldsmiths, University of London, is co-editor of New Theatre Quarterly.