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Marketing strategies today often rely on creating an emotional connection to the brand through personalizing or humanizing the business. This article explores how both the American Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey and the British Bertram Mills Circus used this strategy in the early twentieth century to encourage audiences to attend their circus rather than any other. John Ringling and Bertram Mills may best be remembered for totemic images but their celebrity was constructed through a reiterative performance process. In this article Kate Holmes examines the shifts in their representation performed in press, publicity, and anecdote to explore how each iteration of their public identity functioned to publicize their respective circuses at significant points. She also explores how these circus celebrity identities, focused on achieving financial success for a commercial enterprise, activated and perpetuated national self-identities linked to class. Kate Holmes, who has previous experience as a qualified marketer, recently completed a PhD in Drama at the University of Exeter. Her research on circus performance has been published in Early Popular Visual Culture and is forthcoming in Stage Women, a collection of essays on early twentieth-century female performers.
Between 1926 and 1934 the Moscow Kamerny Theatre staged a cycle of six American plays: Eugene O’Neill's The Hairy Ape, Desire under the Elms, and All God's Chillun Got Wings; Sophie Treadwell's Machinal; Rosita, a stage adaptation of a Hollywood film; and John Dos Passos's Fortune Heights. In this article Dassia N. Posner analyzes and contextualizes two of these productions: The Hairy Ape (1926) and Machinal (1933). By the mid-1920s, Kamerny Theatre director Alexander Tairov was under intense pressure to stage work that aligned with the Soviet Union's political goals. A significant portion of the Kamerny's repertoire had long consisted of foreign plays that celebrated the individual's struggle against oppression. The Hairy Ape and Machinal provided Tairov with a unique opportunity to combine artistic, political, and human relevance in a way he had not achieved before, using the artistic language of the theatre's earlier stylistic and acting innovations. Drawing on rich archival sources, Posner illuminates ways in which stylistic juxtaposition allowed these productions to address a specific political context while also reflecting on oppression more broadly as it relates to class, gender, national origin, artistic freedom, and individual thought. Dassia N. Posner is Associate Professor of Theatre and Slavic Languages and Literatures at Northwestern University. Her books include The Director's Prism: E. T. A. Hoffmann and the Russian Theatrical Avant-Garde and The Routledge Companion to Puppetry and Material Performance.
In this article Catherine Diamond examines the flows of transcultural hybridity occurring in dance between Spanish flamencos, Japanese exponents of flamenco, and Indian dancers interacting with flamenco within their classical dance forms. Japan and India represent two distinct Asian reactions to the phenomenon of global flamenco: the Japanese have adopted it wholesale and compete with the Spanish on their own ground; the Indians claim that as the Roma (gypsy) people originated in India, the country is also the home of flamenco. Despite their differing attitudes, flamenco dance offers women in both cultures a pathway toward participating in an internal androgyny, a wider spectrum of gender representation than either the Asian traditional dance or contemporary Asian society normally allows. Catherine Diamond is a professor of theatre and environmental literature. She is Director of the Kinnari Ecological Theatre Project in Southeast Asia, and the director/choreographer of Red Shoes Dance Theatre in Taiwan.
In this article Stephe Harrop combines theatre history and performance analysis with contemporary agonistic theory to re-conceptualize Greek tragedy's contested spaces as key to the political potentials of the form. She focuses on Athenian tragedy's competitive and conflictual negotiation of performance space, understood in relation to the cultural trope of the agon. Drawing on David Wiles's structuralist analysis of Greek drama, which envisages tragedy's spatial confrontations as a theatrical correlative of democratic politics, performed tragedy is here re-framed as a site of embodied contest and struggle – as agonistic spatial practice. This historical model is then applied to a recent case study, Aeschylus’ The Suppliant Women as co-produced by Actors Touring Company and the Lyceum, Edinburgh, in 2016–17, proposing that the frictious effects, encounters, and confrontations generated by this production (re-staged and re-articulated across multiple venues and contexts) exemplify some of the potentials of agonistic spatial practice in contemporary re-performance of Greek tragedy. It is contended that re-imagining tragic theatre, both ancient and modern, as (in Chantal Mouffe's terms) ‘agonistic public space’ represents an important new approach to interpreting and creatively re-imagining, interactions between Athenian tragedy and democratic politics. Stephe Harrop is a Lecturer in Drama at Liverpool Hope University, where her research focuses primarily on performances and texts adapted from, or responding to, ancient tragedy and epic. She is co-author of Greek Tragedy and the Contemporary Actor (Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming).
Further to his enquiries into ‘Shakespeare and the Three Bears’ (NTQ 106), Nick de Somogyi here turns his attention from Harry, Hunks, and Sackerson to another celebrity triumvirate of fighting bears at Paris Garden, likewise stabled some few hundred yards away from the playhouses Shakespeare knew. Jeremy, Sampson, and Daniel may have bequeathed a lower profile to posterity, but the endurance implicit in their Old Testament naming lends perspective to the enigma of Bankside's parallel entertainments – between blood sport and high art. In particular, it is argued here that the briefly documented life of Sampson-the-Bear enduringly informs the ‘ancient grudge’ with which Romeo and Juliet begins. A Contributing Editor to NTQ since 2003, Nick de Somogyi gained his PhD at Pembroke College, Cambridge, and works as an independent scholar, textual consultant, freelance editor, and illustrator. The founder editor of both the Globe Quartos and Shakespeare Folios series for Nick Hern Books (1997–2015), he has lectured at Cambridge University, the Museum of London, and for the Rose Trust, and has curated four exhibitions at Shakespeare's Globe (2003–16). His publications include Shakespeare's Theatre of War (Ashgate, 1998), Shakespeare on Theatre (Nick Hern Books, 2011), and (as Consultant Editor) Shakespeare in 100 Objects (V&A, 2014).
When Harley Granville Barker was invited to stage a theatre season in New York following the outbreak of the First World War, senior figures within British politics seized on it as an opportunity to promote the British war effort in the United States. It was, however, Barker's impromptu decision to extend his stay and tour Euripides’ The Trojan Women to major colleges on the East Coast that saw him come close to realizing this goal. Through an examination of the production, the discourse that surrounded it, and the changing diplomatic relations between Britain and the USA, Philippa Burt explores in this article the extent to which Barker used Euripides as a propaganda tool through which to engage and educate the largely isolationist North American public. At the same time, she argues that Barker challenged the propaganda machine by refusing to perpetuate the dominant nationalistic and xenophobic narratives and, instead, intended a condemnation of all war. Philippa Burt is a lecturer in the Department of Theatre and Performance at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her previous publications include numerous articles and a chapter on Barker's work with choruses in the forthcoming The Great European Stage Directors, Vol. 4: Reinhardt, Jessner, Barker (Bloomsbury Methuen).
In current scholarship the obscurity of the early years of Thomas Dekker is akin to his opacity in Philip Henslowe's Diary, which awaits full analytical interpretation. While the Diary usefully tells us about Henslowe's theatre business, it also imparts interwoven stories about many playwrights whose works are being rigorously tested in today's theatres. In this essay Chi-fang Sophia Li offers a theatre-based critique of the early life of Dekker, when, she argues, he quickly became a ‘fully paid-up member’ of the theatrical community. Thus his theatrical strengths, productive potential, writing interests, collaborative patterns, earning power, and working relationships with Michael Drayton, Anthony Munday, and Henry Chettle can be interpreted afresh. The Diary supplies frequent, intensive sightings of Dekker, whose biographical implications mutually inform a cultural life of Dekker's peers. This is the first attempt to elucidate in full Dekker's presence in the Henslowe–Alleyn papers alongside other historical and literary documents. Chi-fang Sophia Li is Associate Professor in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature at National Sun Yat-sen University in Taiwan. She has published in Shakespeare Bulletin, Notes and Queries, English Studies, New Theatre Quarterly, and in Chinese in Review of English and American Literature. She gave public lectures for the anniversaries of Shakespeare's birth and death for the Globe Theatre on tour to Taiwan in 2014 and for the Shakespeare Exhibition in 2015 for the National Museum of Taiwan Literature and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
This article is based on the author's production of Aimé Césaire's A Tempest in India. Guided by the concept of transculturation, a key concern of Kamaluddin Nilu in the working process was to develop positions that could be considered parallel to those of Césaire. The topographical condition of present-day India is interpreted as ‘internal colonialism’, locked in differences within, and presented through a double-framed vision. The parallel to ‘black subjectivity’ was found to be the Dalits, who suffer from systematic discrimination and are segregated from the main social body. Further, when adjusting the text to ‘India's world’, the notion of a ‘third space’, benefiting from the performance matrix of the traditional ritualistic performance Ram Lila as well as a heterotopian space concept, was crucial. The intention to make a theatre production that could give the audience an opportunity to engage in a political debate on the hierarchical nature of Indian society was fulfilled. Breaking the established postcolonial political myth meant that the audience was faced with the unexpected. In such cases an indirect or parabolic performance mode of communication rather than a synergetic one becomes likely. Kamaluddin Nilu is an independent theatre director and researcher affiliated with the Centre for Ibsen Studies, University of Oslo. He is currently a Research Fellow at the International Research Centre ‘Interweaving Performance Cultures’ at the Freie University, Berlin. He was Chair Professor of the Theatre Department at Hyderabad University in India, and Artistic Director of the Centre for Asian Theatre (CAT) in Dhaka.
Following the success of The Gondoliers (1889), Gilbert wrote to Sullivan: ‘It gives one the chance of shining right through the twentieth century.’ However, while this prophecy was largely fulfilled, clouds of cultural disapproval have darkened over the Savoy operas since the start of the present century, especially with regard to the mockery of women's education at the heart of Princess Ida (1884) and, most pointedly, the demeaning and ostensibly racist depiction of the Japanese in The Mikado (1885). On the other hand, the largely overlooked Utopia, Limited (1893) has experienced a boom in productions over the last decade, seemingly due to its subject matter, which, as one recent critic put it, make it ‘an anti-colonialist, anti-capitalist comic opera’. He also argues that, while some of the traditional performance practices associated with The Mikado ought to be re-evaluated, recent objections to the spirit of the opera as a whole are not entirely justified, and that a re-evaluation of the validity of some (but not all) of the performance practices traditionally associated with The Mikado is both just and timely. Alan Fischler is a Professor of English at Le Moyne College, Syracuse. He is the author of Modified Rapture: Comedy in W. S. Gilbert's Savoy Operas (University of Virginia Press, 1991) and ‘Drama’ in the Blackwell Companion to Victorian Literature and Culture (2014), among many other articles on Gilbert and nineteenth-century theatre.
The commemoration of sacrifice and martyrdom in the Iran–Iraq war led to dissemination of the ‘sacred defence’ culture and its theatre progeny – the Arzeshi genre, which is rooted in Shi’i religious values, Persian culture, and Iranian performance traditions. In response to this, Iranian anti-war theatre practitioners have intervened through a counter-conduct theatricality made up of characters, stories, reasoning, embodied emotions, and scenic languages. A thematic and aesthetic analysis of three stagings of the anti-war play The Whispers Behind the Front Line by the prominent Iranian playwright/director Alirezā Nāderi shows that there has been a shift over two periods of time regarding ‘disguised counter-hegemonic dramaturgy’, alternative characterization, and the ethical engagements of artists with the narrative of war. In this study Marjan Moosavi shows that theatre counter-conducts have shifted since 1995 from a realist aesthetic, reflecting a specific event – the Iran–Iraq war – to a universal, abstract aesthetic practice that sees war as a global phenomenon. Marjan Moosavi is an Iranian-Canadian PhD candidate and instructor at the University of Toronto's Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies. She has published articles on Iranian dramaturgy and diasporic theatre in The Routledge Companion to Dramaturgy, TDR, and Critical Stages.
Serafima Birman was an actress of the Moscow Art Theatre who worked in the First Studio and Second Moscow Art Theatre throughout the revolutionary and civil war period (1910s–1920s) and went on to have a distinguished career as a performer, teacher, and director in Stalinist and post-Stalinist USSR (1920s–1970s). In this article Rose Whyman investigates her artistic and cultural contribution in the development of the Stanislavsky System and of her approach to acting, working alongside Vakhtangov, Michael Chekhov, and influenced by Meyerhold and other artists of the avant-garde. She was the first female director at the theatre, continued to act and direct in Soviet theatres, and worked in film, notably with Eisenstein on Ivan the Terrible. The development of her career required great determination and necessitated making theatrical and political choices in order to survive and maintain the artistic principles on which her work was based. Rose Whyman is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Drama and Theatre Arts at the University of Birmingham and is the author of The Stanislavsky System of Acting (Cambridge, 2008) and Stanislavsky: the Basics (Routledge, 2013).
In this article Gabrielle Houle examines the dramaturgical process that actor Marcello Moretti applied to his creation of Arlecchino's body in Giorgio Strehler's globally acclaimed productions of The Servant of Two Masters at the Piccolo Teatro of Milan between 1947 and 1960. She provides a critical analysis of Moretti's interdisciplinary and trans-historical research and creative process, including his study of iconographic representations of the commedia dell’arte, his observation of farmers in Padua in the mid-twentieth century, and the connections he made between his life experiences and his understanding of Arlecchino. She then examines Moretti's acting style, signature postures, and footwork, both as the international press described them and as she observed them in a video recording and in photographs of the productions. The article, based on extensive archival research at the Piccolo Teatro and on interviews with artists who knew both Moretti and Strehler, concludes with a discussion of Moretti's legacy within and beyond Italy. Gabrielle Houle is a theatre scholar, educator, and artist specializing in the recent staging history of the commedia dell’arte, contemporary mask-making practices, and masked performance. She has taught in several Canadian universities, and is a member of the Centre for Oral History and Tradition at the University of Lethbridge, where she is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor.
In this article Roger Porter analyzes five plays about Oscar Wilde, by Leslie and Sewell Stokes, David Hare, Eric Bentley, Moises Kaufman, and Terry Eagleton. He focuses on various aspects of the three Wilde trials of 1895, and shows how, while the plays employ verbatim transcripts of the court records, they use the latter in quite different ways and with different emphases, suggesting how the several playwrights regard Douglas in his relation with Wilde, as well as Douglas's implication in the verdict. Several of the plays focus almost exclusively on Wilde's personality, while others engage with larger issues, including Victorian moral regulation of sexuality, the relation of art to society, and English attitudes towards the Irish. He also stresses how the plays’ dramaturgy relates to their perspectives on Wilde, especially on his cultural role. Roger Porter is Professor Emeritus of English, Reed College, Portland, Oregon, USA. He is the author of Self-Same Songs: Autobiographical Performances and Reflections (University of Nebraska Press), Bureau of Missing Persons: Writing the Secret Lives of Fathers (Cornell University Press), and co-editor (with Sandra Gilbert) of Eating Words: a Norton Anthology of Food Writing.
In this article Bernard Ince surveys and critically examines for the first time the bizarre phenomenon known as the ‘Monkey Drama’ in the British theatre. A genre of early origin, pre-dating the age of Darwinism, it is to be found in all areas of entertainment, especially during the nineteenth century when the quintessential characteristics of simian mimicry were established. Commonly juxtaposed with the legitimate drama in afterpieces, ‘man-monkey’ spectacles not only blurred conventional man–beast boundaries, but also challenged prevailing conceptions of theatrical legitimacy. The genre attracted myriad performers of varied origins and specialisms, whose ability to mimic simian characteristics stemmed not only from agility and flexibility, but also from careful study of the ‘monkey tribe’ itself. While some familiar names figure among the roll-call of simian impersonators, many artists are little known. Although difficult to quantify precisely, the genre had reached its zenith before the middle of the nineteenth century, the 1820s through the 1840s being a significant formative period. After mid-century, popularity was maintained, but to a lesser degree, largely through pantomime, only to decline significantly after 1900. In a broader context, the study furnishes new material for current interdisciplinary debates regarding the relationship between performance, evolution and visual culture in the Victorian period. Bernard Ince is an independent theatre historian who has contributed earlier studies of the Victorian and Edwardian theatre to New Theatre Quarterly.
Postdramatic approaches to performance and Stanislavsky's methodology seemingly occupy divergent performance traditions. Nonetheless, both traditions often require performers to mine their own lives (albeit to different ends) and operate in an experiential realm that demands responsiveness to and within the live moment of performing. Tracy Crossley explores this realm through an analysis of Quarantine Theatre's Wallflower (2015), an example of postdramatic practice that blends a poetics of failure with a psycho - physical dramaturgical approach that can be aligned with Stanislavsky's concepts of affective memory and active analysis.Wallflower provides a useful case study of practice that challenges the binary opposition between the dramatic and postdramatic prevalent in theatre and performance studies scholarship. Aspects of Stanislavsky's system, nuanced by cognitive neuroscience, can expand the theorization of postdramatic theatre, which in turn generates techniques that can prove valuable in the rehearsal of dramatic theatre itself. Tracy Crossley is a Senior Lecturer in Theatre and Performance at the University of Salford, Manchester. She is currently developing a practical handbook, Making Postdramatic Theatre, for Digital Theatre Plus.
Between 1975 and 1988, the Korean Public Performance Ethics Committee (KPPEC) censored obscene language, body exposure, and extreme violence, as is common in all forms of theatre censorship. However, the KPPEC focused in particular on depictions of the President of South Korea, and proscribed any work that challenged or even questioned the public image of the President as a strong leader for a nation in crisis. Despite the official abolition of censorship in 1988, it was discovered in 2016 that a blacklist had been in operation that excluded ‘left’ and ‘pro-Pyongyang’ theatre directors and actors from accessing public funding. By exploring the process of censorship, Seong-kwan Cho in this article interrogates the relationship between the theatre and the nation. Seong-kwan Cho is a lecturer at the School of Global Communication at Kyung Hee University. With Jae-beom Hong, in his current research he has been exploring North Korean performance, and his article on this subject is forthcoming in Asian Theatre Journal.
In this article Naphtaly Shem-Tov examines three Mizrahi autobiographical performances in Israel, exploring how they construct Mizrahi identity in different ways. The term ‘Mizrahi’ or ‘Mizrahim’ refers to Jews and their descendants originating in the Muslim and Arab countries. Although Mizrahim make up approximately half the Israeli population, their ethnic identity and culture are considered outside the dominant Israeli Western cultural orientation. The three autobiographical performances discussed here challenge these preconceptions and present an alternative, assertive identity for the Mizrahi community. The performers incorporate real elements – physical virtuosity, the preparation and serving of food, and the use of official documentation and personal records – to blur the lines between fiction and reality, and to draw attention to the different forms of oppression exerted on the Mizrahi identity. Naphtaly Shem-Tov is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Literature, Language and the Arts at the Open University of Israel. His publications include Acco Festival: Between Celebration and Confrontation (Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2016).
In this essay Paul Maloney and Adrienne Scullion investigate the ambitious agenda of theatre internationalism in the context of non-professional theatre making in Glasgow in the mid-twentieth century. For members of the Glasgow Jewish Institute Players, internationalism was represented through a diverse repertoire of classic European texts and contemporary American plays, presented alongside new original plays and sketches drawing on Yiddish and Scottish popular theatre tropes, and experienced through its members’ range of international diasporic networks, specifically with Jewish theatre makers in New York. It is argued that the internationalizing experience of the company and, specifically, its sustained exploration of immigration and of immigrants, achieves an important, even defining, role in the formation of a modern theatre industry and identity in Scotland. Historically interesting in and of itself, this article is also timely given a wider social and cultural ‘fear’ of contemporary migrants. The research encompasses a range of previously unexplored primary material including scripts, reviews, photographs, and company papers, including correspondence with New York-based playwright Sylvia Regan and new interviews with surviving company members. Paul Maloney and Adrienne Scullion work at Queen's University Belfast.
A recent study of single-ticket buyers and subscribers at a major regional theatre – Actors Theatre of Louisville, Kentucky – focused on measuring quantitatively the psychological benefits of engaging with theatre and gathering qualitatively observations by focus groups. Both confirmed the hypothesis that regular attendance promotes flourishing and meaningful social interaction, psychological stimulation, and positive emotions. The study also affirms that attending theatre contributes to a shared sense of community, this at a time when such community appears starkly diminished in the United States. In addition, focus groups wished that audiences better reflected the demographic diversity outside the auditorium. Evident disparities include urban vs. rural, prosperous vs. not, more education vs. less, black vs. white – reflecting those that splinter national politics. One microcosm of one theatre's audience provokes suggestions to foster a more democratic audience and plural istic culture that endeavours to cross rather than ignore the divides. Russell Vandenbroucke is Professor of Theatre at the University of Louisville and Director of its Peace, Justice & Con flict Transformation programme. He was previously Artistic Director of Chicago's Northlight Theatre. Suzanne Meeks is Professor and Chair of the Psychological and Brain Sciences Department, University of Louisville. Her research focuses on mental health in later life.
Focusing on the hadra ritual of the ‘Issawiya Sufi community, in this article Dia Barghouti explores how the narrative of the Prophet Muhammad's ‘night journey’ is performed within the Tunisian socio-cultural context. Drawing on the philosophical writings of the twelfth-century Sufi saint Muhyidin Ibn ‘Arabi, the author examines how re-enacting narratives of transcendence, and particularly of myths associated with the patron saint of the order, Sidi Ben-’Issa, allows members of the ‘Issawiya community to explore the ontological principles of Sufi cosmology by experiencing them directly in the body. Dia Barghouti is a playwright and PhD candidate in the Department of Theatre and Performance at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her plays have been performed at Ashtar Theatre and the Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center in Ramallah in Palestine.