Acts of Dramaturgy is a critical frame for Michael Pinchbeck’s The Shakespeare Trilogy, a recent touring project comprising three performances—The Beginning, The Middle, and The End—that explored the role of the dramaturg. This book sets the playtexts in dialogue with reflexive essays and provocations on contemporary dramaturgy from a range of contributors.
Weaving together different modes of writing, the volume reflects on the politics of dramaturgy, authorship, adaptation, performance, and the use of Shakespeare as a stimulus for making contemporary theater. The resulting work is as much a reflection on the entanglements of processes, lineages, and relations that have shaped the work and its reception as it is an exploration of ways of reflecting and being with practice now. A valuable new contribution to the study of contemporary dramaturgy, the book will be of interest to makers and scholars of theater and performance and anyone interested in practice research and creative critical writing.
Lois Oppenheim University of Michigan Press, 1997 Library of Congress PR6003.E282Z6249 1994 | Dewey Decimal 792.95
In Directing Beckett, Lois Oppenheim presents interviews and essays with twenty-two prominent international directors of Samuel Beckett's work, many of whom worked closely with Beckett, assisting him with his productions or acting under his direction before directing his work themselves. Here they speak openly of their experiences of working with him, and comment on various productions that, in taking great liberties with his work, have raised a number of fascinating legal and aesthetic questions.
In exploring this key figure in the history of theater, Oppenheim's interviews--with such directors as JoAnne Akalaitis, Edward Albee, Herbert Blau, Joseph Chaikin, and Carey Perloff--also address many of the complexities of the director's role, such as the meaning of directorial integrity and fidelity to the playwright's vision--an issue of particular relevance to a playwright whose exactitude, with respect to stage directions, is well documented. Additional highlights include photographs from many of the productions; the unpublished text of a lecture by the late Alan Schneider, Beckett's most accomplished American director; and an interview with the late Roger Blin, the very first director of Beckett's work.
"Directing Beckett is a rare thing--a book both pleasant to read and useful to have . . . it is like listening to the ideal panel, everyone who should be there there and all at their articulate best." --Toby Silverman Zinman, Theatre Journal
"Anyone intending to direct or act in a work by Beckett, or to write about his work, must read this book." --Choice
Lois Oppenheim is Professor of French, Montclair State University
An impossible question from a Chinese actor—“Why is Shakespeare eternal?”—drove Sidney Homan after fifty years in the theater to ponder just what makes Shakespeare…well, Shakespeare. The result, Directing Shakespeare, reflects the two worlds in which Homan operates—as a scholar and teacher on campus, and as a director and actor in professional and university theaters. His concern is the entire process, beginning in the lonely period when the director develops a concept, and moving into increasingly larger realms: interaction with stage designers; rehearsals; and performances in which the audience’s response further shapes the play.
Homan recounts the experience of staging King Lear accompanied by a musical score for piano, violin, and cello played live onstage. He discusses the challenge of making and trying to justify cuts in Hamlet. A casual remark from an actress leads to a feminist production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He describes the delicate collaboration between director and performer as he works with actors preparing for The Merchant of Venice, King Lear, and Hamlet. Other chapters treat a set designer’s bold red drapes that influenced the director’s concept for Julius Caesar, and the cross-influence of back-to-back runs of Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstsern Are Dead and Hamlet.
In a highly personal concluding chapter, Homan tells of joyously working with a spontaneous young actor playing Puck and with an audience of unruly teenagers who wept at a performance of Lear.
Delightfully written, and filled with practical insights, Directing Shakespeare draws together scholars, critics, and those who work in the theater to bring the written word to life.
The work of Maria Irene Fornes, author of such acclaimed plays as Fefu and Her Friends, Mud, and The Conduct of Life, has for over three decades earned the attention of theater-goers, scholars and critics. She has won eight Obie awards, has provoked considerable controversy, and has consistently challenged and delighted the reader and spectator with her idiosyncratic voice and her serious and yet profoundly playful approach to the theater and to the issues of humanity, gender politics, and art.
Diane Lynn Moroff focuses on Fornes's major plays, providing illuminating readings of her unique and irreverent body of work. The book traces the career of this influential playwright, director, and teacher, including the reception of her plays, the range of critical responses (particularly those of feminist critics), and an introduction to Fornes's theatrical philosophies. It looks at such critical issues in Fornes's work as the representation of female subjectivity, theater as metaphor and context, art as ritual, and the role of the spectator. In a final chapter, Fornes's plays including Abingdon Square and her most recent work, What of the Night? are examined in the context of the sexualization of character, an ongoing theme for Fornes. Fornes: Theater in the Present Tense will appeal to scholars and students in theater studies and women's studies and to anyone interested or engaged in contemporary theater.
Diane Lynn Moroff is Assistant Professor of English, Oglethorpe University.
Cross-dressing, sexual identity, and the performance of gender are among the most hotly discussed topics in contemporary cultural studies. A vital addition to the growing body of literature, this book is the most in-depth and historically contextual study to date of Shakespeare's uses of the heroine in male disguise--man-playing-woman-playing-man--in all its theatrical and social complexity.
Shapiro's study centers on the five plays in which Shakespeare employed the figure of the "female page": The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Merchant of Venice, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, and Cymbeline. Combining theater and social history, Shapiro locates Shakespeare's work in relation to controversies over gender roles and cross-dressing in Elizabethan England.
The popularity of the "female page" is examined as a playful literary and theatrical way of confronting, avoiding, or merely exploiting issues such as the place of women in a patriarchal culture and the representation of women on stage. Looking beyond and behind the stage for the cultural anxieties that found their way into Shakespearean drama, Shapiro considers such cases as cross-dressing women in London being punished as prostitutes and the alleged homoerotic practices of the apprentices who played female roles in adult companies. Shapiro also traces other Elizabethan dramatists' varied uses of the cross-dressing motif, especially as they were influenced by Shakespeare's innovations.
"Shapiro's engaging study is distinguished by the scope of interrelated topics it draws together and the balance of critical perspectives it brings to bear on them." --Choice
Michael Shapiro is Professor of English, University of Illinois, Urbana.
Ghostly Fragments gathers the essays of the late Barbara C. Hodgdon, a renowned scholar of Shakespeare and performance studies. Her influential publications over thirty years reflected a remarkable intelligence, wit, and originality, as did her lectures and conference papers. Richard Abel and Peter Holland have selected essays that represent the wide sweep of Hodgdon’s scholarship, including unpublished pieces and those from hard-to-access sources. The essays reveal a thinker and writer who grows more self-reflective over time, with a distinctive, engaging, often wryly humorous voice that is accessible even to nonspecialist readers.
Following a general introduction by Peter Holland, the book’s five subsections (Teaching Shakespeare, Analyzing Stage Performances, Editing Shakespeare Texts, Analyzing Shakespeare Films, and “Shopping” in the Archives) are introduced in turn by scholars Miriam Gilbert, W.B. Worthen, Margaret Jane Kidnie, Richard Abel, and Pascale Aebischer. Collectively, the pieces confirm the originality and élan of Hodgdon’s thinking and writing over time, and reveal her as a natural essayist and stylist, with a distinctive engaging voice. The collection is unique in not only bringing together so much of Hodgdon's work in one place (with an extensive bibliography of her published work) but also in demonstrating how groundbreaking and influential that work has been in the field.
The Modern Brazilian Stage
By David George University of Texas Press, 1992 Library of Congress PN2471.G46 1992 | Dewey Decimal 792.0981
Reading a play and watching it performed onstage are quite different experiences. Likewise, studying a country's theatrical tradition with reference only to playtexts overlooks the vital impact of a play's performance on the audience and on the whole artistic community. In this performance-centered approach to Brazilian theatre since the 1940s, David George explores a total theatrical language—the plays, the companies that produced them, and the performances that set a standard for all future stagings.
George structures the discussion around several important companies. He begins with Os Comediantes, whose revolutionary 1943 staging of Nelson Rodrigues' Vestido de Noiva (Bridal Gown) broke with the outmoded comedy-of-manners formula that had dominated the national stage since the nineteenth century. He considers three companies of the 1950s and 1960s—Teatro Brasileiro de Comédia, Teatro de Arena, and Teatro Oficina—along with the 1967 production of O Rei da Vela (The Candle King) by Teatro Oficina.
The 1970s represented a wasteland for Brazilian theatre, George finds, in which a repressive military dictatorship muzzled artistic expression. The Grupo Macunaíma brought theatre alive again in the 1980s, with its productions of Macunaíma and Nelson 2 Rodrigues.
Common to all theatrical companies, George concludes, was the desire to establish a national aesthetic, free from European and United States models. The creative tension this generated and the successes of modern Brazilian theatre make lively reading for all students of Brazilian and world drama.
William C. Scott extends concepts set forth in his Goodwin Award-winning Musical Design in Aeschylean Theater (1984) by examining scansion patterns in the odes of the seven surviving Sophoclean tragedies. Analyzing the play as performed-its full expression in words, music, and dance-Scott finds that Sophocles' metrical patterns are not a secondary detail of the plays but a central feature of their musical organization. Just as the playwright enhanced awareness of themes with a series of recurring and developing verbal images, he also designed the music to guide the audience's understanding of unfolding, often ambiguous events. The fabric of music and meaning is so tightly woven, Scott argues, that significant portions of the plays cannot be fully realized on stage unless the musical effects created by the poet are incorporated. While his work necessarily centers on the chorus, Scott carefully integrates that role into the meaning of the play as a whole, asserting that the chorus becomes a single persona, a character with partial knowledge, limited perspective, and inconsistent responses. The combination of words, meters, and forms provides a new perspective on each play.
A comprehensive treatment of Shakespeare’s plays, The Practical Shakespeare: The Plays in Practice and on the Page illuminates for a general audience how and why the plays work so well.
Noting in detail the practical and physical limitations the Bard faced as he worked out the logistics of his plays, Colin Butler demonstrates how Shakespeare incorporated those limitations and turned them to his advantage: his management of entrances and exits; his characterization techniques; his handling of scenes off-stage; his control of audience responses; his organization of major scenes; and his use of prologues and choruses. A different aspect of the plays is covered in each chapter.
Butler draws most of his examples from mainstream plays, such as Macbeth, Othello, and Much Ado about Nothing. He brings special focus to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which is treated as one of Shakespeare’s most important plays. Butler supports his major points with quotations, so readers can understand an issue even if they are unfamiliar with the particular play being discussed. The author also cross-references the use of dramatic devices in the plays, increasing the reader’s enjoyment and understanding of Shakespeare’s achievements.
Clear, jargon-free, easy-to-use, and comprehensive, The Practical Shakespeare looks at stagecraft and playwriting as conduits for students, teachers, and general audiences to engage with, understand, and appreciate the genius of Shakespeare.
Sails of the Herring Fleet traces esteemed director and theorist Herbert Blau's encounters with the work of Samuel Beckett. Blau directed Beckett's plays when they were still virtually unknown, and for more than four decades has remained one of the leading interpreters of his work. In addition to now-classic essays, the collection includes early program notes and two remarkable interviews -- one from Blau's experience directing Waiting for Godot at San Quentin prison, and one from his last visit with Beckett, just before the playwright's death.
Herbert Blau is Byron W. and Alice L. Lockwood Professor of the Humanities, University of Washington.
With a focus on the canonical institutions of Shakespeare and Chekhov, John Tulloch brings together for the first time new concepts of “the theatrical event” with live audience analysis. Using mainstream theatre productions from across the globe that were highly successful according to both critics and audiences, this book of case studies—ethnographies of production and reception—offers a combined cultural and media studies approach to analyzing theatre history, production, and audience.
Tulloch positions these concepts and methodologies within a broader current theatrical debate between postmodernity and risk modernity. He also describes the continuing history of Shakespeare and Chekhov as a series of stories “currently and locally told” in the context of a blurring of academic genres that frames the two writers. Drawn from research conducted over nearly a decade in Australia, Britain, and the U.S., Shakespeare and Chekhov in Production and Reception will be of interest to students and scholars of theatre studies, media studies, and audience research.
Shakespeare in Kabul
Stephen Landrigan and Qais Akbar Omar Haus Publishing, 2012 Library of Congress PR3109.A44O53 2012 | Dewey Decimal 792.9209581
In 2005, a group of actors in Kabul performed Shakespeare's Love’s Labour's Lost to the cheers of Afghan audiences and the raves of foreign journalists. For the first time in years, men and women had appeared onstage together. The future held no limits, the actors believed. In this fast-moving, fondly told and frequently very funny account, Qais Akbar Omar and Stephen Landrigan capture the triumphs and foibles of the actors as they extend their Afghan passion for poetry to Shakespeare's.Both authors were part of the production. Qais, a journalist, served as Assistant Director and interpreter for Paris actress, Corinne Jaber, who had come to Afghanistan on holiday and returned to direct the play. Stephen, himself a playwright, assembled a team of Afghan translators to fashion a script in Dari as poetic as Shakespeare's. This chronicle of optimism plays out against the heartbreak of knowing that things in Afghanistan have not turned out the way the actors expected.
In this lively study of both modern film and stage productions of Shakespeare, Samuel Crowl provides fascinating insights into the ways in which these productions have been influenced by one another as well as by contemporary developments in critical approaches to Shakespeare's plays.
Crowl’s study demonstrates the surprising resonances between Roman Polanski's 1971 film of Macbeth and Adrian Noble's heralded recent production of the play for The Royal Shakespeare Company; argues that Orson Welles's films of Othello and Cabins at Midnight are not only brilliant remaining of Shakespeare in another art form but make a powerful contribution to our contemporary understanding of performance as interpretation; and chronicles the impact of Peter Hall's creation of the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1960 on performance approaches to Shakespeare in the past thirty years.
Shakespeare Observed provides full interpretative readings of key recent Shakespeare productions in England and includes an intimate behind-the-scenes glimpse into the rehearsal process which produced Ron Daniels's emotionally charged version of Romeo and Juliet for the RSC in 1980. The final chapter uses Kenneth Branagh's highly successful film of Henry V as a summary example of the trends and influences Crowl's study traces, seeing the film as gathering its interpretative energies from both Olivier's famous film version of the play and Adrian Noble's stage production featuring Branagh as the king.
Written in a style which places a premium on capturing the vivid and often dazzling moments of stage and film performances of Shakespeare, Crowl's study will be of interest to the avid film and theatergoer as well as to the scholar and student. Shakespeare Observed joins a growing list of recent critical works which have significantly expanded and redefined the boundaries of Shakespeare studies in our time.
Shakespeare’s Dramatic Transactions uses conventions of performance criticism—staging and theatrical presentation—to analyze seven major Shakespearean tragedies: Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, Richard II, and Richard III. As scholars and readers increasingly question the theoretical models used to describe the concepts of “mimesis” and “representation,” this book describes how the actor’s stage presentation affects the actor’s representational role and the ways in which viewers experience Shakespearean tragedy. Michael Mooney draws on the work of East German critic Robert Weimann and his concept of figurenposition—the correlation between an actor’s stage location and the speech, action, and stylization associated with that position—to understand the actor/stage location relationship in Shakespeare’s plays. In his examination of the original staging of Shakespeare’s tragedies, Mooney looks at the traditional interplay between a downstage “place” and upstage “location” to describe the difference between non-illusionistic action (often staged near the audience) and the illusionistic, localized action that characterizes mimetic art. The innovative and insightful approach of Shakespeare’s Dramatic Transactions brings together the techniques of performance criticism and the traditional literary study of Shakespearean tragedy. In showing how the distinctions of stage location illuminate the interaction among language, representation, Mooney’s compelling argument enhances our understanding of Shakespeare and the theater.
Speaking in Shakespeare's Voice: A Guide for American Actors is a book for undergraduate and graduate students of acting as well as for the professional who would like to perform Shakespeare with the skill of a classical actor. It is also valuable for European actors interested in performing Shakespeare in American English and British actors who would like to explore Shakespeare from an American perspective.
This guide focuses on the technical elements of voice and speech, including breathing, resonance, and diction, as well as providing an introduction to verse speaking and scansion and to Shakespeare’s rhetorical devices, such as antithesis, alliteration, onomatopoeia, irony, metaphor, and wordplay. These topics are annotated with examples from Shakespeare’s plays to demonstrate how an actor can apply the lessons to actual performance. The book also explores the history of Shakespearean performance in the United States and provides guidance on current editions of Shakespeare’s text from the Folio to online Open Source Shakespeare. A helpful appendix offers examples of two-person scenes and contextualized monologues.
This is the first book to dedicate scholarly attention to the work of Tarell Alvin McCraney, one of the most significant writers and theater-makers of the twenty-first century. Featuring essays, interviews, and commentaries by scholars and artists who span generations, geographies, and areas of interest, the volume examines McCraney’s theatrical imagination, his singular writerly voice, his incisive cultural critiques, his stylistic and formal creativity, and his distinct personal and professional trajectories.
Contributors consider McCraney’s innovations as a playwright, adapter, director, performer, teacher, and collaborator, bringing fresh and diverse perspectives to their observations and analyses. In so doing, they expand and enrich the conversations on his much-celebrated and deeply resonant body of work, which includes the plays Choir Boy, Head of Passes, Ms. Blakk for President, The Breach, Wig Out!, and the critically acclaimed trilogy The Brother/Sister Plays: In the Red and Brown Water, The Brothers Size, and Marcus; Or the Secret of Sweet, as well as the Oscar Award–winning film Moonlight, which was based on his play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue.
Shakespeare commentary and performance today present us with a multiplicity of interpretations constructed and reconstructed from such diverse origins that the underlying evidence has become hidden by layers of reconceptualized meanings. What can or should count as evidence for the claims made by scholars and performers, and how should this evidence by organized? In Textual and Theatrical Shakespeare ten essayists answer these stimulating questions by exploring the possibilities for and the constraints upon useful communication among critics who come to Shakespeare from so many different directions.
Bridging the stage-versus-page gap between actors, critics, and scholars, the contributors in this carefully crafted yet energizing book reflect upon the many kinds of evidence available to us from Shakespeare's various incarnations as historical subject and as “our contemporary” as well as from his amphibious occupation of both stage and study. The constraints become arbitrary as each essayist clarifies the sources of this evidence; the seemingly rigid boundaries of scholarly and creative disciplines are crossed and redrawn.
From “How Good Does Evidence Have to Be?” to “Invisible Bullets, Violet Beards: Reading Actors Reading,” the essays in Textual and Theatrical Shakespeare illuminate the long and complex development of our diverse engagements with Shakespeare. Textual and literary scholars, performance critics, social historians, cultural theorists, actors, and theatre historians will appreciate and benefit from this generous spirit of cross-cultural communication.
Many readers first encounter Shakespeare’s plays in a book rather than a theater. Yet Shakespeare was through and through a man of the stage. So what do we lose when we leave Shakespeare the practitioner behind, and what do we learn when we think about his plays as dramas to be performed?
David Bevington answers these questions with This Wide and Universal Theater, which explores how Shakespeare’s plays were produced both in his own time and in succeeding centuries. Making use of historical documents and the play scripts themselves, Bevington brings Shakespeare’s original stagings to life. He explains how the Elizabethan playhouse conveyed a sense of place using minimal scenery, from the Forest of Arden in As You Like It to the tavern in Henry IV, Part I. Moving beyond Shakespeare’s lifetime, Bevington shows the prodigious lengths to which eighteenth- and nineteenth-century companies went to produce spectacular effects, from flying witches in Macbeth to terrifying storms punctuating King Lear. To bring the book into the present, Bevington considers recent productions on both stage and screen, when character and language have taken precedence over spectacle. This volume brings a lifetime of study to bear on a remarkably underappreciated aspect of Shakespeare’s art.
“An eminent Shakespeare scholar and author, Bevington offers a concise, lucid, and unique overview of the history of Shakespeare in various modes of performance, from stage to film to television.”—Choice
“Even veteran Shakespeareans will profit from the varied reminders of how important performance and staging have always been to the interpretation of the plays.”—Renaissance Quarterly
In this innovative union of textual studies and performance criticism, Laurie Osborne explores the important ways in which an apparently single, unproblematic text is in fact multiple and various. Through a close analysis of the performance editions of Twelfth Night, she argues that the complex interaction between text and performance establishes a comedy as a work realized within changing social and erotic constructions.
Because it appears in a relatively clean and dated version in the Folio, Twelfth Night seems to be exempt from arguments for variant texts—but there are significant and persistent variations represented in the performance editions. Osborne's careful reading of these provides a crucial bridge linking theatre history and textual criticism. She employs a wide variety of approaches and disciplines—Shakespearean and Renaissance studies, theatre history, gender studies, contemporary literary criticism, and cultural history—to provide a fresh and engaging yet rigorous view.
Although she focuses on Twelfth Night, Osborne's argument applies more broadly to the history of performance and criticism, including a chapter on video versions of the play. Widely read in Shakespearean and Renaissance scholarship, she employs her archival research in promptbooks, the publishing history of the plays, and the history of Shakespearean production to accomplish a major job of scholarly integration and analysis of Shakespearean drama in performance.
In this study, David Seale argues that Sophocles’s use of stagecraft, which has thus far received little attention, was as sophisticated as that of Aeschylus or Euripides. His discussions of the physical and visual elements of Sophocles's seven plays center around the theme of sight; he demonstrates that each play is staged to maximize the implications and effects of “seeing” and not “seeing,” of knowledge and ignorance. This emphasis on visual perception, Seale maintains, harmonizes with Sophocles’s use of verbal and thematic techniques to create dramatic movements from delusion to truth, culminating in climaxes that are revelations—moments when things are truly “seen” by both audience and characters.