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Though Terence Rattigan’s reputation as a playwright has successfully been revived in recent years, critical responses to the plays – The Winslow Boy (1946) being a case in point – remain limited to the perspectives of British theatre history and British party politics. Paying particular attention to ‘cross-legal’ parallels between The Winslow Boy and a variety of historical and fictional analogues, Alex Feldman restores the play to a broader frame of reference, and to some of its original contexts of production and reception. First considering Rattigan’s juvenile dramatic forays into the law, including his adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities, he proceeds to explore archival evidence of The Winslow Boy’s European reception, pursuing parallels drawn by reviewers with the Nuremberg trials, the Dreyfus case, and Heinrich von Kleist’s 1811 novella, Michael Kohlhaas, re-positioning The Winslow Boy within the transnational and transhistorical legal imaginary to which it properly belongs. Alex Feldman is an Assistant Professor of English at MacEwan University in Alberta. His first book, Dramas of the Past on the Twentieth-Century Stage: in History’s Wings, was published by Routledge in 2012.
Anthropological issues concerning socio-cultural evolution were important in the development of Marxism and led to the theories of cultural materialism. Besides Marx and Engels, anthropology was an important subject for other seminal Marxist theorists, such as Plekhanov. For the Marxist playwright-performer Dario Fo, Gramsci’s theories of hegemony are fundamental to his ideas of the development of art from utilitarian activities, and explain his insistence on drawing from folk and popular forms of performance. In this article Antonio Scuderi investigates some of the major anthropological and folkloric themes in Fo’s theatre, including the influence of anthropologists such as Toschi and Lévi-Strauss. Antonio Scuderi is Professor of Italian at Truman State University in Missouri, where he founded the Italian programme. His interdisciplinary articles on Italian performance traditions have been published in leading journals of theatre, folklore, and literary studies, including Theatre Journal, Oral Tradition, and Modern Language Review. He is the author of Dario Fo and Popular Performance (Legas, 1998), Dario Fo: Framing, Festival, and the Folkloric Imagination (Lexington Books, 2011), and co-editor of Dario Fo: Stage, Text, and Tradition (Southern Illinois, 2000).
In examining the notion of entelechy – defined by Aristotle as the ‘final cause’ in drama – Zornitsa Dimitrova shows that depictions of ‘unsavoury’ content are only justified insofar as they are part of larger networks of aesthetic codification. The unsavoury cannot be an end in itself; neither can it function as an aesthetic category in its own right. Rather, it is a means related to pathos, or suffering, in Greek tragedy and bībhatsa, the ‘odious sentiment’ of the Sanskrit drama. Within such networks of codification, the purpose of the unsavoury is to carry forward the drama to an emotionally uplifting end: katharsis in the Poetics and ananda in Nāṭyaśāstra. This purposiveness – already visible in the entelechial nature of the dramatic plot – relates to a concept of mimesis implicitly understood as a term actional and interactionist in character. But only with the emergence of postdramatic theatre and the dissolution of plot does the unsavoury begin to function as an aesthetic category in its own right. Zornitsa Dimitrova is a doctoral graduate of Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster and holds degrees in Indology, Philosophy, and English Literature from the Universities of Sofia and Freiburg. Her research interests include performance and ritual studies, dramatic theory, and mimesis.
The genre commonly referred to as the ‘concert party’ remains largely neglected by scholars of popular entertainment. In this article Bernard Ince presents a new reading of this most distinctive and underrated branch of theatrical activity. The period before the First World War saw the growth of an ‘industry’ which provided seaside amusement during the summer months. During the inter-war years, however, a more sophisticated form developed whose performative characteristics drew increasingly on revue and cabaret. The period after the Second World War saw further adaptations that gave rise to the summer show, an altogether more lavish spectacle that nonetheless inherited much of the concert party ethos of earlier times. Changes in audience expectations and public holiday preferences, the catastrophe of the two world wars, and the emergence of radio and film were challenges all successfully negotiated, further underscoring the resilience and adaptability of the genre. In the wider context, the concert party not only offered a critical path to the variety stage but in the simplicity of basic form also provided a template for experimentation and innovation. The author is an independent theatre historian.
In this wide-ranging interview of 25 November 2014, Polly Teale, writer, director, and Artistic Director of UK-based Shared Experience theatre company, reflects on her stage adaptations of literary works, the lives of their authors, and the processes of adapting texts between genres. Founded in 1975 by Mike Alfreds, Shared Experience has toured internationally from Sydney to Beijing with highly physical stage adaptations of literary texts and biographies that express the inner lives of complex and fascinating characters. Teale discusses the adaptation of her play Brontë to a screenplay, Shared Experience’s upcoming production of Mermaid, and rehearsal strategies she uses to encourage actors to explore the subjective truths that lie beneath the surface of their characters. Besides Brontë, past productions have included Jane Eyre, The Mill on the Floss, and After Mrs Rochester. Shared Experience was recently awarded a £105,000 grant by the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation and has won several theatre awards including Time Out’s Live Award for Best Play in the West End (2004) and an Edinburgh Fringe First Award (2010). Rebecca Waese is a lecturer and researcher in Creative Arts and English at La Trobe University, Melbourne. She is co-writing a book on Polly Teale and has previously written on interdisciplinary adaptations and dramatic modes in Australian and Canadian literature.
In this article Sylke Rene Meyer traces the historical derivation of tragedy as a patriarchal cultural achievement. To this end, she organizes the pertinent developments, and shows how tragedy came into being with the transition from nomadic to sedentary agrarian societies, principally through the onset of livestock farming in the Mediterranean. Tragedy in this context is the reinterpretation of pre-patriarchal myth in the mindset of this new way of life, and can be seen as developing in response to the male guilt complex in early patriarchal society, serving as a non-religious exculpation instrument and collective therapy. Until today, the dramatic form consolidates power by privileging an ideology of change (that is, drama) that individualizes conflict as an opportunity for personal growth, and in so doing, distracts from the systemic conflict that can be solved only by subverting the dominant social order. Sylke Rene Meyer is Professor of Screenwriting and Dramaturgy at the International Film School in Cologne. She works as a writer and director in theatre, film, and mixed media works, some of which have received significant awards.
Jessie Matthews’ post-war tours to Australia were part of a sequence of commercially successful imported productions then heralded as a great boom era in Australian theatre. However, Matthews’ waning popularity in Britain since the 1940s meant that she was no longer recognizable as the screen darling of the 1930s. Indeed, the Australian press had to remind its readers of ‘evergreen Jessie’s’ succession of British film hits such as The Good Companions (1933) and Evergreen (1934). This article examines the critical and public reception of Matthews’ tours with a focus on the strategic management of her star persona, both on and off stage, including her public criticism of Australian theatre management and employment opportunities for Australian theatre performers. Martina Lipton is an Honorary Associate Lecturer at the University of Queensland and was recently the Research Fellow (Australia) on the Leverhulme Research Project ‘British-Australian Cultural Exchange: Live Performance 1880–1960’. Her publications include the chapter ‘Localism and British Modern Pantomime’ in A World of Popular Entertainments (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012) and articles for Australasian Drama Studies, Contemporary Theatre Review, New Theatre Quarterly, and Popular Entertainment Studies.
Commedia dell’arte was the most influential and widespread theatre movement in sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century Europe. A considerable part of its popularity can be accounted for by its comic representations of stressful occurrences within everyday life in early modern Europe, including its representations of the period’s widespread dissimulation. Among other things, the theatricality of commedia dell’arte provided a way for the audience briefly to dissociate itself from and to fantasize about ways of coping with dissimulation. A number of characteristics of commedia dell’arte, including disguise, lying,tricks, spying and gossip, and portrayals of honour, previously seen as separate, cohere in the concept of dissimulation. Natalie Crohn Schmitt is Professor of Theatre and of English, Emerita, University of Illinois at Chicago. She recently published Befriending the Commedia dell’Arte of Flaminio Scala: the Comic Scenarios (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2014). In New Theatre Quarterly she has published ‘Stanislavski, Creativity, and the Unconscious’ (Vol. II, No. 8); ‘Theorizing about Performance: Why Now’ (Vol. VI, No. 23);‘ “So Many Things Can Go Together”: the Theatricality of John Cage’ (Vol. XI, No. 41); and ‘The Style of Commedia dell’Arte Acting’ (Vol. XXVIII, No. 4).
In 2014 Indigenous theatre director Wesley Enoch announced in an interview that ‘the aim of Indigenous theatre is to write into the public record neglected or forgotten stories’. He also spoke about the aims of a new Australian play, Black Diggers, as ‘honouring and preserving’ these stories. For Enoch, Black Diggers (re)addresses a great silence in Australia’s history, that of the Aboriginal experience of war. Also in 2014, the memorial sculpture Yininmadyemi Thou Didst Let Fall, commissioned by the City of Sydney Council, aimed to place in memoriam the story of forgotten Aboriginal soldiers who served during international conflicts, notably the two world wars. Both Black Diggers and the Yininmadyemi memorial sculpture are counter-hegemonic artefacts and a powerful commentary of a time of pseudo-nationalist memorialization. Both challenge the validity of many of Australia’s socio-political and historical accounts of war, including the frontier wars that took place between Aboriginal people and European settlers. Both unsettle Australia’s fascination with a memorialized past constructed from a culture of silence and forgetfulness. Liza-Mare Syron is a descendant of the Birripi people of the mid-north coast of New South Wales in Australia. An actor, director, dramaturg, and founding member of Moogahlin Performing Arts, a Sydney-based Aboriginal company, she is currently the Indigenous Research Fellow at the Department of Media, Music, Communication, and Cultural Studies at Macquarie University, Sydney. She has published widely on actor training, indigenous theatre practice, inter-cultural performance, and theatre and community development.
For two radical theatres formed in the 1930s, taking performances to their audiences was an important dimension of commitment to working-class politics and civic engagement. Separated by distance but joined ideologically, the New Theatre in Australia and Unity Theatre in the United Kingdom engaged in what they described as ‘mobile work’, as well as being ‘stage curtain’ companies. Based on archival research and drawing on mobility literature, Cathy Brigden and Lisa Milner examine in this article the rationale for mobile work, the range of spaces that were used both indoor (workplaces, halls, private homes) and outdoor (parks, street corners beaches), and its decline. Emerging from this analysis are parallels between the two theatres’ motivation for mobile work, their practice in these diverse performance spaces, and the factors leading to the decline. Cathy Brigden is an associate professor in the School of Management and Deputy Director, Centre for Sustainable Organizations and Work at RMIT University, Australia. Her current research interests include the historical experiences of women in trade unions, gender in performing arts industries, and union strategies and regulation. Lisa Milner is a lecturer in the School of Arts and Social Sciences at Southern Cross University, Coffs Harbour, Australia. Current research interests include a comparative study of workers’ theatre, representations of workers and trade unions on screen, and labour biography.
Although written two centuries apart and in divergent cultures, the kabuki play Tōkaidō Yotsuya Kaidan and Shakespeare's Macbeth exhibit marked similarities (as well as differences) in plot. Here, Carol Fisher Sorgenfrei analyzes some of the ways that these plays reflect (mostly male) anxieties regarding shifting patterns of gender and political power in Jacobean England and Tokugawa Japan. Professor Emerita of Theatre at UCLA, Carol Fisher Sorgenfrei is a specialist in Japanese theatre and intercultural performance, and was recently a Research Fellow at the International Research Institute in Interweaving Performance Cultures at the Free University, Berlin. She is the author of Unspeakable Acts: the Avant-Garde Theatre of Terayama Shūji and Postwar Japan (University of Hawaii, 2005) and co-author of Theatre Histories: an Introduction (Routledge, third edition, 2015). She is also a playwright whose latest play, Ghost Light, is a contemporary fusion of Macbeth and Yotsuya Ghost Stories, in which the ghost of a Japanese-American actress returns to wreak vengeance on the husband who betrayed her. The play will be staged as an Equity Showcase in New York in Autumn 2015.
Recovering the ‘lost’ female tradition has been one of the explicit goals of feminist scholarship in theatre history. Live Hov’s essay is a contribution to that line of research, focusing on the first female performers in the ‘illegitimate’ genres of Greek and Roman theatre. By surveying a number of relevant texts, she shows how these important ‘firsts’ are a neglected area in the theatre and performance studies curriculum. Specialized works by classical scholars provide more evidence on the matter, however, and in the second part of the essay Hov sketches the professional activities and social status of the first female performers. Finally she views the topic through the concept of the gaze, showing how the female performers of antiquity were the first ‘objects’ of the gaze, which in turn contributed to the persistent notion of the promiscuous actress. Live Hov is Professor of Theatre Studies at the University of Oslo, formerly holding a similar position at the University of Copenhagen. Prior to her academic studies she was trained as an actor at the National Theatre School, Norway. Most of her publications (mainly in Norwegian and Danish) pertain to the history and function of women in theatre, to the history of opera production, and to Henrik Ibsen as a man of the theatre.
The Golden Mask and National Theatre Award and Festival, founded in Moscow in 1994, has showcased some of the most exciting theatre to be found across Russia’s vast territories: ‘theatre’ including opera, ballet, contemporary dance, puppetry, and newer forms that have taken root with changing artistic practices. Maria Shevtsova’s brief overview of the 2015 Russian Case, a selection for foreign producers and critics, prominently features ‘new drama’, not least because of the difficulties recently imposed on Teatr.doc, a founding player within this powerful movement. Major young directors appear here, with crossover to their work as represented in past editions of the Russian Case, and with reference to current socio-political factors. Reviews of earlier festivals appeared in NTQ 85, 95, and 103. Maria Shevtsova, Professor at Goldsmiths, University of London, is co-editor of New Theatre Quarterly. Her most recent book is the co-authored Cambridge Introduction to Theatre Directing (2013). Her seminal Dodin and the Maly Drama Theatre: Process to Performance (2004) has been translated into Romanian, Korean, and Mandarin and, in 2014, Russian.
Greek tragedy and its theatre have regularly been drawn into modern theoretical formulas about the nature of theatre making, in proposals which have often had their own cause to plead, but which have still been influential on broadly formed views of the theatre in its history. In this essay, Graham Ley argues that much incidental misrepresentation can be found in this kind of writing alongside the occasional remarkable insight, and that the attention given in modern theory to the Greek theatre is generally inadequate. The theorists discussed are Isadora Duncan, Brecht, Boal, and Hans-Thies Lehmann, with examples also taken from performance theory. Ley then goes on to examine what kind of theoretical view of the ancient Greek theatre would be most appropriate today, and offers a vision of it as a dynamic and innovative environment, looking in this second part of the essay at what can be said of early choric tragedy, of the emergence of the actor, and of the innovation of the dramatic scene building. Graham Ley has written essays on various topics over the years for New Theatre Quarterly, but this is his first piece for the journal on his specialist subject, the performance of ancient Greek tragedy.
The actor-manager system remained pivotal to West End production throughout the later nineteenth century. Focusing on one actor-manager, George Alexander, and using records of his expenditure on productions during the early 1890s, Lucie Sutherland demonstrates how financial data can be used to examine evolving relationships between industry leaders and dramatic authors in this era. She argues that this kind of evidence demonstrates not only the fiscal dimension to such relationships – level of investment per production, percentage of royalties paid – but also that the data may be analyzed to ascertain the responsiveness of an actor-manager to income generated. Here, significant attention is paid to box-office revenue and expenditure for the first productions of Lady Windermere's Fan and The Importance of Being Earnest, exploring the income Alexander achieved by staging Wilde's drama prior to the arrest and trials of 1895. The use of quantitative data allows for close scrutiny of the work undertaken by prominent figures in the professional theatre; familiar narratives can be contested and endorsed through engagement with this type of material. Lucie Sutherland is a Teaching Associate in Drama and Performance at the University of Nottingham. She has written on aspects of nineteenth- and twentieth-century British theatre, including regional performance cultures and the impact of increasing professional regulation (for example the emergence of an actors' union) upon commercial theatre. She is currently completing a critical biography of Alexander.
In Writings on Cities Henri Lefebvre calls for a
‘renewed right to urban life’. He maintains that
‘we must thus make the effort to reach out towards a new humanism, a
new praxis, another man, that of urban society’. City spaces are used
in a number of contemporary Irish site-specific theatre productions to explore
histories of oppression and social injustice, and to imagine a new humanist
praxis for society. The international multi-artform production The
Conquest of Happiness (2013) was inspired by Bertrand
Russell’s commitment to human happiness in defiance of war and
suffering in his book The Conquest of Happiness (1930) and in
his many political and philosophical writings. In this article Eva Urban
critically examines the ways in which the performance in Northern Ireland
attempted to embody Russell’s humanism and related critical concepts
to encourage active citizenship. She considers to what extent the dramaturgical
options employed inthe production applied Russell’s ideas and those
of other thinkers by developing critical representations of inhumanity,
challenging authoritarianism, and exploring humanist ideals. Eva Urban is a
British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Faculty of English,
University of Cambridge, and an Associate of Clare Hall, Cambridge. She is
theauthor of Community Politics and the Peace Process in Contemporary
Northern Irish Drama (Peter Lang, 2011) and her articles on
political drama and Irish studies have been published in New Theatre
Quarterly, Etudes Irlandaises, and
One of the most important influences on the development of Cherríe Moraga's feminist theatre was undoubtedly the work of Maria Irene Fornes, the Cuban American playwright and director. Moraga wrote the first drafts of her second play Shadow of a Man while on Fornes's residency programme at the INTAR Hispanic Playwrights-in-Residence Laboratory in New York, and later Fornes directed the premiere at the Brava-Eureka Theatre in San Francisco (1990). The play radically restages the Chicana body through an exploration of the sexual and gendered politics of the family. Much has been written on how the family has traditionally been the stronghold of Chicana/o culture, but Shadow of a Man stages one of its most powerful criticisms, revealing how the complex kinship structures often mask male violence and sexual abuse. Using archival material and a range of critical studies, in this article Elizabeth Jacobs explores Moraga's theatre as an embodied feminist practice and as a means to displace the entrenched ideology of the family. An earlier version of this article was presented at the Department of English and Creative Writing, Aberystwyth University, as part of the 2014 International Women's Day events. Elizabeth Jacobs is the author of Mexican American Literature: the Politics of Identity (Routledge, 2006). Her articles have appeared in Comparative American Studies (2012), Journal of Adaptation and Film Studies (2009), Theatres of Thought: Theatre, Performance, and Philosophy (2008), and New Theatre Quarterly (2007). She works at Aberystwyth University.
Joseph Brodsky’s assertion in Watermark (1992) that Venice ‘is the city of the eye’, providing a sense of security and solace to inhabitants and visitors via the sheer aesthetic force of its surroundings, implicitly raises questions, in the context of the twenty-first-century city, about the performative nature of not only modern-day urban aesthetics but also surveillance in public space, both of which, as phenomena, are dependent on forms of visual observation. Taking into account contemporary Venice’s complex make-up in terms of its transient and permanent populations – tourists, economic migrants, and local residents – and the central issue facing the city of the gradual erosion of its historical infrastructure owing to excesses of commercialism and the material effects of flooding, in this article Nicolas Whybrow ponders the continuing role of aesthetics in an urban context. In particular, he considers how both Brodsky’s perception of the effects of the historical environment and contemporary instances of artistic intervention or engagement with the city – official (as part of the globally renowned Biennale) and unofficial (in the form of graffiti writing) – might position users of public space in the light of increased attempts to implement formal controls in the interests of security. Nicolas Whybrow is Associate Professor (Reader) and Head of Department in the School of Theatre, Performance, and Cultural Policy Studies at the University of Warwick. His most recent books are Art and the City (2011) and, as editor, Performing Cities (2014).
Comparisons between King Lear and the biblical Book of Job have become commonplace in scholarship. This paper traces the impact of the Lear–Job connection on the staging and reception of Shakespeare’s play in Hebrew theatre. Due to this connection, King Lear was put within the orbit of a central cultural endeavour for Zionism: the re-appropriation of the Hebrew Bible for the formation of a new national identity. In the mid-twentieth century, the play appealed to directors who searched for Hebrew ‘biblical’ theatre, and a web of intertextual allusions in the press tied Shakespeare’s tragedy to the Book of Job and to rabbinic interpretations of it. However, the equivocal position held by Job within the Zionist imagination undermined the place of King Lear as well. Ultimately, the two were intertwined in the politics of their reception in Hebrew theatre. Yair Lipshitz is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Theatre Arts in Tel Aviv University. In his research, he explores the various intersections between theatre, performance, and Jewish religious traditions. He is the author of two books in Hebrew: The Holy Tongue, Comedy’s Version (Bar Ilan University Press, 2010) and Embodied Tradition: Theatrical Performances of Jewish Texts (forthcoming).
Leaving (2007), the first play written by Václav Havel since the start of his political career in 1989, is a theatrical tour de force that categorically defies generic classification. In this article Katie Fry draws on methodologies of theatre semiotics and intertextuality to elucidate the semantic complexity of Havel’s highly unconventional play. Leaving is analyzed in terms of its engagement with intertexts, its incorporation of ‘real-life’ material from Havel’s political and artistic careers, and its subversion of theatrical conventions. Katie Fry is a PhD Candidate at the Centre for Comparative Literature, University of Toronto. She has worked as a translator and dramaturg for independent theatre projects in Madrid and Toronto. Her dissertation project examines the attribution of religious import to theatre, opera, and literature in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Europe. She holds a doctoral fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.