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David Greig is one of Britain's most versatile and exciting playwrights, whose awardwinning work – commissioned by, among others, Suspect Culture, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre of Scotland, the Edinburgh International Festival, and the Traverse Theatre – has been performed all over the world. His personal voice is characterized by the sensitive musicality of his text, an individual sense of humour, and an acute awareness of the world around us. Whether his protagonists are Cambridge ornithologists, Scottish lords, or American pilots, Greig creates works of extreme visual beauty and emotional directness in lyrical soundscapes. In the interview which follows, completed in June 2010, he discusses the themes of politics and national identities; language, music, and experimental forms; directors, directing, and adaptations; and watching bodies on stage. Greig believes that theatre is a form of voyeurism, ‘a consensual exchange’ to ‘look at people and watch how they behave’. In his work, the act of watching thus acquires a new role surpassing the simple function of pleasure, and enabling the viewer to engage further with the theatre's mediation to comment, justify, explain, and promote a better understanding of the complexities of human nature – voyeurism in theatre being re-read as a new freedom of the gaze, and its fetishistic attributes re-evaluated as an emancipation of restrained energy, testing the boundaries of taboo. George Rodosthenous is Lecturer in Music Theatre at the School of Performance and Cultural Industries of the University of Leeds. He is Artistic Director of the Altitude North theatre company, and also works as a freelance composer for the theatre. He is currently working on the book Theatre as Voyeurism: the Pleasure(s) of Watching.
In this article Helen Grime examines the enduring epithet of ethereality and its persistent connection to the career of the actress Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies (1891–1992). Most closely associated with her portrayal of Etain in the much revived musical drama The Immortal Hour, ethereality is understood as a signifier of 1920s femininity. The offstage presentation of a domesticated femininity further evidences the apparent conventionality of this actress's self-presentation at a time of particular anxiety about the socio-political position of women. These notions of femininity hint at the prevailing social attitudes that confronted an actress whose on- and offstage appearances were subject to public scrutiny while her private lesbian identity remained obscured. It is suggested, however, that Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies's playful negotiation of her demonstrably fragmented identity evidences an agency and self-possession belied by her public conformity. Helen Grime completed her thesis, A Strange Omission: Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies, Twentieth-Century Shakespearean Actress, in 2008 and is currently a Lecturer in Drama at the University of Winchester.
Recent researchers into the documentary evidence of Shakespeare's professional life as a writer–performer have understandably restricted themselves to his human fellows and rivals. But on Bankside in the 1590s bear-baiting vied for popularity with theatre, and in this article, Nick de Somogyi seeks to correct a long-standing error of naming among the celebrity fighting bears of Paris Garden – stabled some hundred yards west of the Globe. Scholars are agreed that the careers of George Stone, Harry Hunks, and the great Sackerson competed for attention with the dramatist's own. But while Sackerson's is the only contemporary name Shakespeare ever dropped in his plays, and while George Stone probably expired in the same season as witnessed the premiere of Macbeth, it is argued here that the only scholarly basis for the existence of ‘the famous Harry Hunks’ lies in the erratic contemporary punctuation of a single poem. A Contributing Editor to NTQ, Nick de Somogyi gained his PhD at Pembroke College, Cambridge, and is now an independent scholar and textual consultant. He was the founder editor of the Globe Quartos series for Nick Hern Books, and The Winter's Tale, the eighteenth play in his Shakespeare Folios series (with Simon Trussler) appeared in early 2011. He curated three successive exhibitions at Shakespeare's Globe (2003–5), contributed to the National Portrait Gallery's Searching for Shakespeare exhibition (2006), and is the author of Shakespeare's Theatre of War (1998) and Shakespeare on Theatre (2011). This is the first in a series of pieces on the relationship between playhouse and beargarden he is currently researching.
In this article Frank Camilleri discusses the historical and professional links between Ingemar Lindh and Jerzy Grotowski, with a specific focus on the nature and implications of their separate work on physical action. Lindh's practice, particularly his research on the ‘disinterested act’, is read in the context of Grotowski's ‘doing’ in Art as Vehicle. The individual work of the two practitioners on vocal and vibration techniques is seen as integral to their research on physical action. Frank Camilleri is Senior Lecturer in Drama and Theatre Studies at the University of Kent and Artistic Director of Icarus Performance Project (Malta). He served as Academic Coordinator of Theatre Studies at the University of Malta from 2004 to 2008, and in 2007 co-founded Icarus Publishing Enterprise with Odin Teatret and the Grotowski Institute.
Joan Littlewood blamed anti-socialist prejudice for Theatre Workshop's hostile treatment by the Arts Council. Yet her failure to secure the Council's backing for the Fun Palace – an open-ended project for an arts, entertainment, and education centre she developed with architect Cedric Price – may be better expressed as a collision between anarchy and bureaucracy. Following Nadine Holdsworth's 1997 article for New Theatre Quarterly, ‘“They'd Have Pissed on My Grave”: the Arts Council and Theatre Workshop’, in this article Juliet Rufford argues that the project fell victim to a form of programme censorship because it broke the rules of culture and professionalism as defined by the major funding body for the arts. The concept of ‘fun’ is seen as vital to understanding the cynicism of the policy makers towards Price and Littlewood's proposals, but also as driving explorations of intermediality, interactive performance, and performative architecture that have since been taken up successfully by artists working within and beyond the subsidized sector. Juliet Rufford is a post-doctoral research associate at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and is co-convenor of the International Federation of Theatre Research's Theatre Architecture Working Group. She has written on theatre architecture, site-specific performance, scenography, and the politics of space for publications including Contemporary Theatre Review and the Journal of Architectural Education.
In 1996 Graham Ley compiled for NTQ a record of the first twenty years of Tara Arts, the London-based British Asian theatre company. In this essay, he tests the theoretical concept of a third space for diaspora culture against the experience of two leading British Asian theatre companies, and considers the contrasting role of an Asian arts centre. From 2004 to 2009 Graham Ley led an AHRC-funded research project on ‘British Asian Theatre: Documentation and Critical History’, and has co-edited with Sarah Dadswell two books soon to be published by the University of Exeter Press: British South Asian Theatres: a Documented History and Critical Essays on British South Asian Theatre. He has earlier published in NTQ on Australian theatre and enlightenment and contemporary performance theory, and is presently Professor of Drama and Theory at the University of Exeter.
Paul Robeson's Othello, first seen in London during the season of 1929–30, stands as a high-water mark of twentieth-century Shakespearean interpretation. Robeson was the first actor of African descent to appear in an extended-run Shakespearean production at a leading West End venue (Ira Aldridge, whose last London appearance came sixty-five years earlier, had made only three brief appearances at major London theatres). Here, Michael A. Morrison examines the circumstances surrounding Robeson's London Othello in 1930 and the far-reaching influence of his achievement on future generations of performers and playgoers. Michael A. Morrison is a New York-based writer and teacher. He is the author of John Barrymore, Shakespearean Actor (Cambridge University Press, 1997) and the forthcoming Paul Robeson's Othello.
At a time when funding cuts may mean that many theatres need to struggle for their very existence, it becomes more important than ever that the teams working together in a particular company, or on a particular production, should feel comfortable with each other, and with the director – on whose shoulders may fall many problems and decisions beyond the straightforwardly artistic. Gwenda Hughes has been Artistic Director of Watford Palace Theatre in Education Company, an Associate Director at Birmingham Rep (where she directed some twenty-five productions), and from 1998 until 2006 was Artistic Director of the New Vic Theatre in Staffordshire. She has also worked as a freelance director for M6, Women's Theatre Group, the Young Vic, Oldham Coliseum, Salisbury Playhouse, Theatre Centre, and Lip Service. Drawing on this extensive and varied experience, she here offers some practical guidance on the pitfalls which face the director and/or the artistic director, and how they can be avoided – or if not avoided, overcome – whether in the rehearsal room, on the ‘top floor’ of management, or in dealing with the public, from fussy members of the audience and local councillors making funding decisions, to visiting royals in need of tactful guidance to the lavatory.
Alfred Jarry, best known for his scandalous 1896 play Ubu Roi, wrote an equally scandalous work in 1898: L'Amour en visites (Visits of Love). This hybrid novel/play dramatizes several of Alfred Jarry's battles with the Symbolist movement, literary form, and inherited traditions. It is a work about rupture on all levels. In this article Kimberly Jannarone investigates the text and its backstory to give a greater understanding of Jarry's work and the last days of the Symbolist movement. Tracing the life of a central character, Lucien, who plays different roles as he travels through naturalistic and fantastic realms in a deviant coming-of-age story, L'Amour en visites condenses Jarry's formal and personal rejection of the worlds around him, especially that of the Symbolist literary scene. Culminating in a sensational coup de théâtre – a pair of lovers being flushed down the toilet – L'Amour en visites marked the closure of one part of Jarry's work and a chapter of his life. Kimberly Jannarone is the author of Artaud and His Doubles (University of Michigan Press, 2010). As well as two earlier essays on Jarry in New Theatre Quarterly – in NTQ 98 (May 2009) and NTQ 67 (August 2001) – she has published essays on avant-garde literature and performance in Theatre Journal, Theatre Survey, French Forum, TDR, Modernism/Modernity, and a book chapter on The Exquisite Corpse. Jannarone is Associate Professor of Theater Arts at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
In this essay the social historian Simon Featherstone examines the theatre of the Scottish medium Helen Duncan and argues that her strange, illicit performances offer a way of re-reading British popular performance in the 1930s and 1940s. This critically neglected period has been characterized by the decline of the radical energies of nineteenth-century music hall and the variety theatre which displaced it. Duncan's performances, however, with their extravagant display and management of her body and deployment of a range of references to popular materials, including puppetry, melodrama, children's games, and sentimental narratives, suggest the existence of other trajectories. Like the ‘dark village’ that Eric Hobsbawm identified as the illegal shadow of nineteenth-century social practices, Duncan's ‘dark theatre’ can be seen as a shadow world of mid-century performance styles. It provided a knowing yet emotionally fulfilling theatrical experience for her audiences while at the same time posing radical questions about the limits and meanings of the representation of gender and class in the unregulated venues of the spiritualist circuit. Politically ambiguous in their mixture of entrepreneurial exploitation and willingness to offer forthright challenges to social and legal authorities, Duncan's performances indicate the persistence of complex spaces and traditions of popular theatricality in the period.
For a four-month period in 2010 David Francis Taylor worked as a research consultant with the Theatre Royal at Bury St Edmunds, the only working Regency playhouse in Britain. In this article Taylor reflects upon the experiences and insights he acquired over the course of this collaboration. In particular, he indicates how the theatre's restaging of the neglected repertory of the long eighteenth century within the Georgian space of performance can aid theatre historians in understanding the intricate dynamics of the period's theatre architecture and, crucially, the position and agency of its spectatorships. David Francis Taylor is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Toronto. His book Theatres of Opposition, which concerns the theatricality of politics in the career of the playwright-parliamentarian Richard Brinsley Sheridan, will be published next year by Oxford University Press. He has published articles in Eighteenth-Century Studies, European Romantic Review, and the Keats-Shelley Review, and is currently co-editing, with Julia Swindells, the Oxford Handbook to the Georgian Playhouse.
In this article Victoria Hunter considers notions of spatial translation, ‘present-ness’, and ‘embodied reflexivity’ within site-specific dance performance. Through a discussion of the author's site-specific dance installation entitled Project 3, she explores choreographic processes that aimed to facilitate, transform, and heighten the lived experience of site by the performer and the audience through phenomenologically informed movement inquiry. Forming part of the author's practice-led PhD investigation into the relationship between the site and the creative process, the performance was the third in a trilogy of site-specific works exploring the potential for site-specific dance performance to ‘reveal’ the site through movement, challenging both performers and audience members to engage with new ways of experiencing the site-world. Victoria Hunter is a practitioner-researcher and lecturer in dance at the University of Leeds. Her research is practice-led and is concerned with the nature of dance-making processes within site-specific choreography. She completed her PhD in site-specific dance performance in December 2009.
Founded in Boston by Stacy Klein in 1982, initially as a women's theatre, Double Edge moved to Ashfield in Massachusetts in 1997 to the rural complex now known as the Farm Center. The Farm comprises rehearsal rooms, living quarters, technical workshops, an ante-room to welcome and dine spectators, a magnificent loft-like performance space, and acres of land with trees and a pond. The whole is set against a soft New England landscape, and the Farm's grounds are the almost idyllic environment for the summer promenade spectacles that, like its more formal productions indoors, provide a focus for locals, sustaining their sense of community and even the myth of community nurtured historically in these parts. In this conversation of 13 and 14 November 2009 (which was extended in August 2010 after The Firebird, the summer spectacle of that year), Stacy Klein discusses how local people support Double Edge and otherwise form a long-term relationship with the company, now visited by spectators as well as practitioners from further afield – Klein's Polish teachers and mentors among them. Double Edge is a devising company, working with improvisation and free association to form strong visual imagery through pronounced physical movement, which also involves circus skills. This, together with a frequently startling use of objects, is the basis of their magical realism (notably in the unPOSSESSED of 2004, after Don Quixote), a style developed by the company in its rural retreat, and subsequently combined with the tonalities of grotesque surrealism. The Republic of Dreams, for instance, inspired by the life and work of Bruno Schulz, enters the world of vivid dreams, powerful memories, and nostalgic echoes, the whole evoking an evanescent past into which its agile, versatile performers – some singing, some dancing – tune in, like ghosts absent and present in one and the same instance. The two productions noted here are part of what Klein calls a ‘Cycle’ – a grouping of works that have evolved over a number of years as separate pieces, some beginning life as a summer show before they grow and link with the other pieces of a given Cycle, which is almost always a trilogy. Gradual, consistent development is key to the company's work, as is its belief in a distinct company ethos, which its trainees are invited to share. Maria Shevtsova, who enjoyed the Farm's hospitality when she talked with Stacy Klein, holds the Chair in Drama and Theatre Arts at Goldsmiths, University of London, and is the co-editor of New Theatre Quarterly.
Mark O'Rowe's work marks a shift in Irish theatrical form and practice, positing his stories in urban landscapes that defy modernist dramatic frames and established linguistic styles. Here, angels and demons roam the earth with lost human souls and, though mythical creatures and influences are frequently made manifest, the connection to the other world does not remove the presence of popular culture – karate movies and salty snacks in particular. But perhaps the most viscerally striking aspect of O'Rowe's dramaturgy stems from the sense of pain, isolation, and trauma his characters embody and enact. His dramatized communities are either in crisis or no longer visible, thereby situating the scope for human connection or reconnection as the prize sought from their struggle – while comedy is not lost, and the ‘skullduggerous’ tone so applauded in Howie the Rookie accompanies these later works alongside an evolved dramatic voice and sense of theatrical form. Miriam Haughton is currently in the second year of her doctoral work on postmodern Irish drama in the School of English, Drama, and Film at University College Dublin. Her research interests include drama studies, Irish studies, anthropology, and sociology.
This essay articulates a South Asian understanding of embodied psychophysical practices and processes with a specific focus on Kerala, India. In addition to consulting relevant Indian texts and contemporary scholarly accounts, it is based upon extensive ethnographic research and practice conducted with actors, dancers, yoga practitioners, and martial artists in Kerala between 1976 and 2003. During 2003 the author conducted extensive interviews with kutiyattam and kathakali actors about how they understand, talk about, and teach acting within their lineages. Phillip Zarrilli is Artistic Director of The Llanarth Group, and is internationally known for training actors in psychophysical processes using Asian martial arts and yoga. He lived in Kerala, India, for seven years between 1976 and 1989 while training in kalarippayattu and kathakali dance-drama. His books include Psychophysical Acting: an Intercultural Approach after Stanislavski, Kathakali Dance-Drama: Where Gods and Demons Come to Play, and When the Body Becomes All Eyes. He is Professor of Performance Practice at Exeter University.
In this article Vicki Ann Cremona traces the development of the complex process of montage used by Eugenio Barba for Ur-Hamlet, based on the oral tale Amleth, which Saxo Grammaticus included in his history of the Danes (circa 1216). Besides Odin Teatret, the project involved a large number of actors and musicians from Bali, Brazil, and Japan, and other participants and trainees with whom Barba had worked at the International School of Theatre Anthropology (ISTA). The author here recounts how the work was developed from different cultural perspectives, describing how the actors' physical scores were combined without their cultural specificity being modified in any way. Vicki Ann Cremona is an Associate Professor at the University of Malta, currently serving as Malta's Ambassador to Tunisia. Her co-edited texts include Costume in Malta: a History of Fabric, Form, and Fashion (1998) and Theatrical Events: Borders, Dynamics, Frames (2004). She updated, revised and edited Nicola Savarese's Eurasian Theatre: Drama and Performance between East and West from Classical Antiquity to the Present, translated from the Italian by Richard Fowler (Holstebro, Malta, Wrocław: Icarus Publishing, 2010).
In the autumn of 1962 Gwyn Thomas, author of The Keep and Jackie the Jumper, two plays already staged at the Royal Court, delivered to the Theatre Royal, Stratford East, his script of Sap, a play with songs about the First World War. In March 1963, Joan Littlewood premiered at the Theatre Royal Oh What a Lovely War. Subsequently, Thomas felt that his ideas and research had been stolen, and because of the success of Oh What a Lovely War, Sap was not staged for another eleven years. In this article Gwynne Edwards discusses the circumstances surrounding these events and outlines the similarities and differences between the two plays. Gwynne Edwards has written extensively on Spanish theatre, in particular on the plays of Lorca, which he has also translated. More recently he has written plays based on the lives and work of Dylan Thomas, Gwyn Thomas, and Richard Burton. Burton was staged in Hollywood in 2010.
In recent criticism a perceived dichotomy has emerged between ‘new writing’ and ‘new work’ for the theatre. In this article Rosalind Haslett contends that this dichotomy is often reflected in the infrastructure of theatre organizations and theatre spaces themselves. Thus ‘new writing’ is seen to refer to a literary process which takes place in a conventional theatre building, while ‘new work’ tends to occur in non-traditional forms and spaces. The relationship between non-conventional spaces and the performance work that might take place in them has received some critical attention, but there has been less exploration of the ways in which theatre architecture can inform the processes which surround new writing for the theatre. Tracing the history of the National Theatre in London back to its origins, long before it occupied a building of its own, Rosalind Haslett explores the relationship between the policies and processes taking place within the organization and the physical and architectural development of actualizing its building. She suggests that, if the layout of a theatre building has the power to influence the kind of work and the modes of production which take place within it, the activities of the individuals and organizations residing within such structures can also drive architectural change. Rosalind Haslett is Lecturer in Dramatic Literature at Newcastle University. Her research interests include dramaturgy and literature management, theatre architecture, and theatre history.
In this article, Katya Johanson and Hilary Glow examine the ways in which performing arts companies and arts policy institutions perceive the needs of children as audiences. Historically, children have been promoted as arts audiences. Some of these represent an attempt to fashion the adults of the future – as audiences, citizens of a nation, or members of a specific community. Other rationales focus on the needs or rights of the child, such as educational goals or the provision of an antidote to the perceived corrupting effect of electronic entertainment. Drawing on interviews with performing arts practitioners, the authors explore some of these themes through case studies of three children's theatre companies, identifying the development of policy rationales for the support of practices directed at children which are primarily based on pedagogical principles. The case studies reveal a shift away from educational goals for children's theatre, and identify a new emphasis on the importance of valuing children's aesthetic choices, examining how these trends are enacted within the case-study organizations, and the implications of these trends for company programming. Hilary Glow is Senior Lecturer and Director of the Arts Management Program at Deakin University, Victoria. She has published articles on cultural policy and the audience experience in various journals, and in a monograph on Australian political theatre (2007). Katya Johanson lectures and researches in the School of Communication and Creative Arts at Deakin University. She has published on Australian cultural policy and on the relationship between art, politics and national identity. With Glow she is the author of a monograph on Australian indigenous performing arts (2009).
The concept of the performing body consists of two elements: the performer's and the spectator's performing bodies. The performer's body is an active and creative body on stage, while the spectator's body is considered an uncreative body, passive in his or her seat. In this article, findings regarding the duality of the performing body, its interchangeability, and its intertwinement, derive from researching Via Negativa, a Slovenian-based (yet international in its nature) theatrical project established almost a decade ago by theatre director Bojan Jablanovec. The mission of Via Negativa is to investigate the relationship between the performer and the spectator exclusively through theatrical means. Tomaž Krpič is a sociologist of the body with particular interest in postmodern theatre and performance. He was until recently Lecturer in Cultural Sociology in the Faculty of Social Sciences, Ljubljana University, Slovenia.