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Theatre in France was the first in Europe to be written in the vernacular as opposed to Latin. It has provided the English language with the medieval word farce, the early-modern word role, and the modern term mise en scène. Molière is single-handedly responsible for launching European-style playwriting in North Africa. Today, it is only a slight exaggeration to say that it's harder to get tickets for the Festival d'Avignon, one of the world's largest theatre festivals, than for the Rolling Stones' farewell tour. Containing chapters by globally eminent theatre experts, many of whom will be read in English for the first time, this collaborative history testifies to the central part theatre has played for over a thousand years in both French culture and world culture. Crucially, too, it places centre-stage the genders, ethnicities and classes that have had to wait in the wings of theatres, and of theatre criticism.
Premier playwright of modern theater and trailblazer of the short story, Anton Chekhov was also a practising doctor, journalist, writer of comic sketches, philanthropist and activist. This volume provides an accessible guide to Chekhov's multifarious interests and influences, with over 30 succinct chapters covering his rich intellectual milieu and his tumultuous socio-political environment, as well as the legacy of his work in over two centuries of interdisciplinary cultures and media around the world. With a Preface by Cornel West, a chronology and Further Reading list, this collection is the essential guide to Chekhov's writing and the manifold worlds he inhabited.
The definitive guide to Molière's world and his afterlife, this is an accessible contextual guide for academics, undergraduates and theatre professionals alike. Interdisciplinary and diverse in scope, each chapter offers a different perspective on the social, cultural, intellectual, and theatrical environment within which Molière operated, as well as demonstrating his subsequent impact both within France and across the world. Offering fresh insight for those working in the fields of French Studies, Theatre and Performance Studies and French History, Molière in Context is an exceptional tribute to the premier French dramatist on the 400th anniversary of his birth.
This wide-ranging, detailed and engaging study of Brecht's complex relationship with Greek tragedy and tragic tradition argues that this is fundamental for understanding his radicalism. Featuring an extensive discussion of The Antigone of Sophocles (1948) and further related works (the Antigone model book and the Small Organon for the Theatre), this monograph includes the first-ever publication of the complete set of colour photographs taken by Ruth Berlau. This is complemented by comparatist explorations of many of Brecht's own plays as his experiments with tragedy conceptualized as the 'big form'. The significance for Brecht of the Greek tragic tradition is positioned in relation to other formative influences on his work (Asian theatre, Naturalism, comedy, Schiller and Shakespeare). Brecht emerges as a theatre artist of enormous range and creativity, who has succeeded in re-shaping and re-energizing tragedy and has carved paths for its continued artistic and political relevance.
Poland is celebrated internationally for its rich and varied performance traditions and theatre histories. This groundbreaking volume is the first in English to engage with these topics across an ambitious scope, incorporating Staropolska, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Enlightenment and Romanticism within its broad ambit. The book also discusses theatre cultures under socialism, the emergence of canonical practitioners and training methods, the development of dramaturgical forms and stage aesthetics and the political transformations attending the ends of the First and Second World Wars. Subjects of far-reaching transnational attention such as Jerzy Grotowski and Tadeusz Kantor are contextualised alongside theatre makers and practices that have gone largely unrecognized by international readers, while the participation of ethnic minorities in the production of national culture is given fresh attention. The essays in this collection theorise broad historical trends, movements, and case studies that extend the discursive limits of Polish national and cultural identity.
W. B. Yeats is recognised globally as one of the most significant poets of the past century. And yet, in his Nobel address, he singled out his work in the theatre as his main accomplishment. Yeats on Theatre restores Yeats not only a playwright, but as a writer and thinker who, over forty years, produced a body of theory covering all aspects of theatre, including the possibilities of performance space, the role of the audience and the nature of tragedy. When read as whole, in conjunction with his plays, letters, and extensive manuscript materials, Yeats's theatre writings emerge as a radical, cohesive, theatrical aesthetic, at odds with – and in advance of – the theatre of his time. Ultimately, the Yeats who takes shape in Yeats on Theatre is an artist who thinks through theatre, providing us with an urgently needed reassertion of the value of theatre as embodied thought.
Bertolt Brecht in Context examines Brecht's significance and contributions as a writer and the most influential playwright of the twentieth century. It explores the specific context from which he emerged in imperial Germany during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as well as Brecht's response to the turbulent German history of the twentieth century: World Wars One and Two, the Weimar Republic, the Nazi dictatorship, the experience of exile, and ultimately the division of Germany into two competing political blocs divided by the postwar Iron Curtain. Throughout this turbulence, and in spite of it, Brecht managed to remain extraordinarily productive, revolutionizing the theater of the twentieth century and developing a new approach to language and performance. Because of his unparalleled radicalism and influence, Brecht remains controversial to this day. This book – with a Foreword by Mark Ravenhill – lays out in clear and accessible language the shape of Brecht's contribution and the reasons for his ongoing influence.
Henrik Ibsen, the 'Father of Modern Drama', came from a seemingly inauspicious background. What are the key contexts for understanding his appearance on the world stage? This collection provides thirty contributions from leading scholars in theatre studies, literary studies, book history, philosophy, music, and history, offering a rich interdisciplinary understanding of Ibsen's work, with chapters ranging across cultural and aesthetic contexts including feminism, scientific discovery, genre, publishing, music, and the visual arts. The book ends by charting Ibsen's ongoing globalization and gives valuable overviews of major trends within Ibsen studies. Accessibly written, while drawing on the most recent scholarship, Ibsen in Context provides unique access to Ibsen the man, his works, and their afterlives across the world.
Benito Mussolini has persistently been described as an 'actor' – and also as a master of illusions. In her vividly narrated account of the Italian dictator's relationship with the theatre, Patricia Gaborik discards any metaphorical notions of Il Duce as a performer and instead tells the story of his life as literal spectator, critic, impresario, dramatist and censor of the stage. Discussing the ways in which the autarch's personal tastes and convictions shaped, in fascist Italy, theatrical programming, she explores Mussolini's most significant dramatic influences, his association with important figures such as Luigi Pirandello, Gabriele D'Annunzio and George Bernard Shaw, his oversight of stage censorship, and his forays into playwriting. By focusing on its subject's manoeuvres in the theatre, and manipulation of theatrical ideas, this consistently illuminating book transforms our understandings of fascism as a whole. It will have strong appeal to readers in both theatre studies and modern Italian history.
Theatre in Market Economies explores the complex relationship between theatre and the market economy since the 1990s. Bringing together research from the arts and social sciences, the book proposes that theatre has increasingly taken up the mission of the 'mixed economy' by seeking to combine economic efficiency with social security while promoting liberal democracy. McKinnie situates this analysis within a wider context, in which the welfare state's tools have been used to regulate, ever more closely, the lives of citizens rather than the operations of markets. In the process, the book invites us to think in new ways about longstanding economic and political problems in and through the theatre: the nature of industry, productivity, citizenship, security and economic confidence. Theatre in Market Economies depicts a theatre that is not only a familiar cultural institution but is, in unexpected and often ambiguous ways, an exemplary political-economic one as well.
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.