Perspectives on America's greatest living playwright that explore his longstanding commitment to forging a uniquely American theater
Arthur Miller's America collects new writing by leading international critics and scholars that considers the dramatic world of icon, activist, and playwright Arthur Miller's theater as it reflects the changing moral equations of his time. Written on the occasion of Miller's 85th year, the original essays and interviews in Arthur Miller's America treat the breadth of Miller's work, including his early political writings for the campus newspaper at the University of Michigan, his famous work with John Huston, Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe on The Misfits, and his signature plays like Death of a Salesman and All My Sons.
Arthur Miller's Global Theater
Enoch Brater, Editor University of Michigan Press, 2010 Library of Congress PS3525.I5156Z535 2007 | Dewey Decimal 812.52
No American playwright is more revered on the international stage than Arthur Miller. In Arthur Miller’s Global Theater—a fascinating collection of new essays by leading international critics and scholars—readers learn how and why audiences around the world have responded to the work of the late theatrical icon. With perspectives from diverse corners of the globe, from Israel to Japan to South Africa, this groundbreaking volume explores the challenges of translating one of the most American of American playwrights and details how disparate nations have adapted meaning in Miller’s most celebrated dramas.
An original and engaging collection that will appeal to theater aficionados, scholars, students, and all those interested in Miller and his remarkable oeuvre, Arthur Miller’s Global Theater illustrates how dramas such as Death of a Salesman,The Crucible, and A View from the Bridge developed a vigorous dialogue with new audiences when they crossed linguistic and national borders. In these times when problems of censorship, repressive regimes, and international discord are increasingly in the news, Arthur Miller’s voice has never been more necessary as it continues to be heard and celebrated around the world.
Enoch Brater is the Kenneth T. Rowe Collegiate Professor of Dramatic Literature at the University of Michigan. His other books include Arthur Miller: A Playwright’s Life and Works and Arthur Miller’s America.
In 2009, theatre artist Aaron Landsman was dragged by a friend to a city council meeting in Portland, Oregon. At first he was bored, but when a citizen dumped trash in front of the council in order to show how the city needed cleaning up, he was intrigued. He began attending local government meetings across the country, interviewing council members, staffers, activists, and other citizens. Out of this investigation, Landsman and director Mallory Catlett developed a participatory theatre piece called City Council Meeting.
The City We Make Together looks at how we make art with communities, how we perform power and who gets to play which roles, and how we might use creativity and rigorous inquiry to look at our structures of democracy anew.
Dario Fo: Stage, Text, and Tradition
Edited by Joseph Farrell and Antonio Scuderi Southern Illinois University Press, 2000 Library of Congress PQ4866.O2Z63 2000 | Dewey Decimal 852.914
Joseph Farrell and Antonio Scuderi present an international collection of essays reevaluating the multifaceted performance art of Nobel laureate Dario Fo.
The contributors, all of whom either have previously published on Fo or have worked with him, are the major Dario Fo scholars of three continents. Going beyond the Marxist criticism of the 1970s and 1980s, the editors and contributors try to establish an appropriate language in which to debate Fo’s theater. They seek to identify the core of Fo’s work, the material that will be of lasting value. This involves locating Fo in history, examining the nature of his development through successive phases, incorporating his politics into a wider framework of radical dissent, and setting his theatrical achievements in a context and a tradition.
The essays cover every aspect of Dario Fo: as actor, playwright, performer, and songwriter. They also provide the historical background of Fo’s theater, as well as an in-depth analyses of specific works and the contribution of Franca Rame.
Making use of invaluable archival material, Feinberg's biographical account is followed by a study of Tabori's experimental theatre work. As did prominent avant-gardists such as Grotowski or Chaikin, Tabori sought to open up new vistas in an otherwise mainstream theatre system. Feinberg pays special attention to Tabori's theatrical innovations, most movingly found in his Holocaust plays. There Feinberg shows the ways in which Tabori's theatre becomes a locus of remembrance (Gedächtnisort) and of unique, engaging memory-work (Erinnerungsarbeit).
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.
Harriet Bosse, a delicate beauty with rich theatrical talent, wasan inspiration for the prominent and controversial playwright August Strindberg. After their three-year marriage collapsed, she became his interpreter to the world, guardian of the Strindberg legend. This first biography of Harriet Bosse in English explores her own important career as an actress on the Swedish stage, as well as her influence on Strindberg’s work. Waal has separated Harriet Bosse from her romanticized image in the shadow of August Strindberg and has shown her as a person, fascinating and self-sufficient. Her daughter-in-law Randi Wingård said: "Harriet was a great personality, and even if she was tiny, one could nothelp noticing her in any gathering. She attracted everyone’s attention." While tracing the development of Bosse’s career, her triumphs and disappointments, Waal chronicles the beginnings of Swedish filmmaking in early silent films as well as four decades of major developments in Swedish theatre. But Bosse’s marriage to Strindberg and her relationship to his writing are an integral part of her story, and Waal also details the couple’s stormy marriage, from 1901 to 1903, the reasons for its failure, and the personal and career influences they continued to exert on each other. As Strindberg’s inspiration for many literary works, Bosse was alternately vilified and idealized. Much of what Strindberg wrote after meeting Bosse reflects his adoration of her and his despair over the problems of their relationship. She inspired two of his major works of poetry, "The Golden Eagle" and "The Dutchman," in addition to the character of the virgin princess in Swan White. On stage she played eight minor and six major Strindberg roles, including Indra’s Daughter in A Dream Play and Christina in Queen Christina.
Much information for this book is drawn from previously inaccessible sources, including unpublished materials in libraries, archives, and private collections, mostly in Scandinavia. Waal interviewed Strindberg and Bosse’s daughter Anne Marie Wyller Hagelin (to whom the book is dedicated) as well as other members of Bosse’s family and a wide range of actors, critics, directors, and scholars. Forty-one photographs are included in the text.
To posterity, William Shakespeare may be the Bard of Avon, but to mid-seventeenth-century theatergoers he was just another dramatist. Yet barely a century later, he was England’s most popular playwright and a household name. In this intriguing study, Don-John Dugas explains how these changes came about and sealed Shakespeare’s reputation even before David Garrick performed his work on the London stage.
Marketing the Bard considers the ways that performance and publication affected Shakespeare’s popularity. Dugas takes readers inside London’s theaters and print shops to show how the practices of these intersecting enterprises helped transform Shakespeare from a run-of-the-mill author into the most performed playwright of all time—persuasively demonstrating that by the 1730s commerce, not criticism, was the principal force driving Shakespeare’s cultural dominance.
Displaying an impressive command of theater and publishing history, Dugas explains why adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays succeeded or failed on the stage and shows that theatrical and publishing concerns exerted a greater influence than aesthetics on the playwright’s popularity. He tells how revivals and adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays while he was relatively unknown fueled an interest in publication—exploited by the Tonson publishing firm with expensive collected editions marketed to affluent readers—which eventually led to competition between pricey collections and cheap single-play editions. The resulting price war flooded the market with Shakespeare, which in turn stimulated stage revivals of even his most obscure plays.
In tracing this curious reemergence of Shakespeare, Dugas considers why the Tonsons acquired the copyright to the plays, how the famous edition of 1709 differed from earlier ones, and what effect its publication had on Shakespeare’s popularity. He records all known performances of Shakespeare between 1660 and 1705 to document productions by various companies and to show how their performances shaped the public’s taste for Shakespeare. He also discloses a previously overlooked eighteenth-century engraving that sheds new light on the price war and Shakespeare’s reputation.
Marketing the Bard is a thoroughly engaging book that ranges widely over the Restoration landscape, containing a wealth of information and insight for anyone interested in theater history, the history of the book, the origins of copyright, and of course Shakespeare himself. Dugas’s analysis of the complex factors that transformed a prolific playwright into the inimitable Bard clearly shows how business produces and packages great art in order to sell it.
In Modern Hamlets and Their Soliloquies (Iowa, 1992), Mary Maher examined how modern actors have chosen to perform Hamlet’s soliloquies, and why they made the choices they made, within the context of their specific productions of the play.
Adding to original interviews with, among others, Derek Jacobi, David Warner, Kevin Kline, and Ben Kingsley, Modern Hamlets and Their Soliloquies: An Expanded Edition offers two new and insightful interviews, one with Kenneth Branagh, focusing on his 1997 film production of the play, and one with Simon Russell Beale, discussing his 2000-2001 run as Hamlet at the Royal National Theatre.
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.
During the past twenty years or so, Othello has become the Shakespearean tragedy that speaks most powerfully to our contemporary concerns. Focusing on race and gender (and on class, ethnicity, sexuality, and nationality), the play talks about what audiences want to talk about. Yet at the same time, as refracted through Iago, it forces us to hear what we do not want to hear; like the characters in the play, we become trapped in our own prejudicial malice and guilt.
Many ingenious theatrical worlds have been created for the fairy world of A Midsummer Night's Dream, from the baroque to the postmodern. This is the quintessential play for understanding the ways in which scenery, costumes, music, lighting, and playing spaces affect our experience of Shakespeare. A Midsummer Night's Dream also proves to be extraordinarily responsive to the cultural winds of each era, easily circulating a variety of sometimes competing social interests.
In his richly detailed, beautifully illustrated history of Shakespeare's most popular play—the first comprehensive study of A Midsummer Night's Dream in the theatre—Gary Jay Williams covers four hundred years of landmark productions in Europe, the United States, and Canada as well as important opera, dance, and film adaptations. Williams shows how the visual and musical vocabularies of production can be read as cultural texts and how these meditative texts determine this play's available meanings from generation to generation. His account, then, is the story of our imaginative and astonishing uses of Shakespeare's play.
Many famous theatre artists have been drawn to this play, and many of their productions have been turning points in theatre history. Williams offers detailed theatrical and cultural analyses of the productions of David Garrick, Ludwig Tieck, Elizabeth Vestris, Charles Kean, Harley Granville-Barker, Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree, Max Reinhardt, Peter Brook, Liviu Ciulei, and other artists. His engaging, intelligent study will be invaluable to scholars and teachers of Shakespeare and theatre history and to professional directors, designers, critics, and actors.
•The Wedding-play Myth and the Dream in Full Play
•Shakespeare Absolute: Fairies, Gods, and Oranges in Purcell's Fairy Queen
•The Scenic Language of Empire
•These Antique Fables . . . These Fairy Toys”
•The National and Natural Dream
•The Dream of Modernism: The “New Hieroglyphic Language of Scenery” and the Theology of the Text
•The Dream of Modernism: The Sacred and the Secular
•Postmodernism: “The Fierce Vexation of a Dream”
Part of a larger project to examine the Elizabethan politics of representation, Louis Montrose's The Purpose of Playing refigures the social and cultural context within which Elizabethan drama was created.
Montrose first locates the public and professional theater within the ideological and material framework of Elizabethan culture. He considers the role of the professional theater and theatricality in the cultural transformation that was concurrent with religious and socio-political change, and then concentrates upon the formal means by which Shakespeare's Elizabethan plays called into question the absolutist assertions of the Elizabethan state. Drawing dramatic examples from the genres of tragedy and history, Montrose finally focuses his cultural-historical perspective on A Midsummer Night's Dream.
The Purpose of Playing elegantly demonstrates how language and literary imagination shape cultural value, belief, and understanding; social distinction and interaction; and political control and contestation.
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.
How do we recapture, or hold on to, the live performances we most love, and the talented artists and performers we most revere? Shakespeare and the Legacy of Loss tells the story of how 18th-century actors, novelists, and artists, key among them David Garrick, struggled with these questions through their reenactments of Shakespearean plays. For these artists, the resurgence of Shakespeare, a playwright whose works just decades earlier had nearly been erased, represented their own chance for eternal life. Despite the ephemeral nature of performance, Garrick and company would find a way to make Shakespeare, and through him the actor, rise again.
In chapters featuring Othello, Richard III, Hamlet, The Winter’s Tale, and The Merchant of Venice, Emily Hodgson Anderson illuminates how Garrick’s performances of Shakespeare came to offer his contemporaries an alternative and even an antidote to the commemoration associated with the monument, the portrait, and the printed text. The first account to read 18th-century visual and textual references to Shakespeare alongside the performance history of his plays, this innovative study sheds new light on how we experience performance, and why we gravitate toward an art, and artists, we know will disappear.
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.
The professional Yiddish theatre started in 1876 in Eastern Europe; with the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881, masses of Eastern European Jews began moving westward, and New York—Manhattan’s Bowery and Second Avenue—soon became the world’s center of Yiddish theatre. At first the Yiddish repertoire revolved around comedies, operettas, and melodramas, but by the early 1890s America's Yiddish actors were wild about Shakespeare. In Shakespeare on the American Yiddish Stage, Joel Berkowitz knowledgeably and intelligently constructs the history of this unique theatrical culture.
The Jewish King Lear of 1892 was a sensation. The year 1893 saw the beginning of a bevy of Yiddish versions of Hamlet; that year also saw the first Yiddish production of Othello.Romeo and Juliet inspired a wide variety of treatments. The Merchant of Venice was the first Shakespeare play published in Yiddish, and Jacob Adler received rave reviews as Shylock on Broadway in both 1903 and 1905. Berkowitz focuses on these five plays in his five chapters. His introduction provides an orientation to the Yiddish theatre district in New York as well as the larger picture of Shakespearean production and the American theatre scene, and his conclusion summarizes the significance of Shakespeare’s plays in Yiddish culture.
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.