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As a veteran playwright and actor, Kwo Victor Elame Musinga is more than just a pioneer in popular theatre. His simple but profound messages demonstrate a depth of understanding and insight into human nature and the nature of society. The texts he crafts are universal and timeless in their content and appeal, even as the themes and situations that inspire them are localized in specific places, experiences and histories. The Barn is a collection of three topical plays. Njema captures the predicament of love in a context where innocence and trust are preyed upon by deceit, dishonesty, promiscuity, waywardness, callous indifference to human life, the reckless abandon of parental authority and wisdom by youth in a hurry to celebrate sexuality, irresponsible manhood with or without the connivance of girls/women, and HIV/AIDS and its terror. Invitation to God addresses elitism and fair-weather friendship even among believers. In Moka, the theme of friendship is explored through the simple act of dishonesty and greed, especially to those with whom one should be nothing but virtuous, open, generous and kind. In these plays Kwo Victor Elame Musinga explores the virtues of being human, while addressing the dark side of humanity.
In performances by Euro-Americans, Afro-Americans, Native Americans, and Asians, Richard Schechner has examined carefully the details of performative behavior and has developed models of the performance process useful not only to persons in the arts but to anthropologists, play theorists, and others fascinated (but perhaps terrified) by the multichannel realities of the postmodern world.
Schechner argues that in failing to see the structure of the whole theatrical process, anthropologists in particular have neglected close analogies between performance behavior and ritual. The way performances are created—in training, workshops, and rehearsals—is the key paradigm for social process.
In Black Caps and Red Feathers the reader is taken into Creatureís subconscious on the garbage heap where he is tenant, and where he recounts his multitudinous and gruesome experiences in Traourouís underground prisons. Ancestral Earth, set within a traditional African background, indicts Akeumbin, the king and custodian of the earth of Allehtendurih, who is caught in the dilemma of stopping a plague caused by the reckless exploitation of the earth and showing affection for his fiftieth bride. In compliance with the Princes of Earth, the women who are the principal victims, bring pressure to bear on the King who condescends to the urgency of appeasing the Ancestral Earth. The common denominator in both plays is communal grudge against irresponsible leadership and its fallouts of indiscriminate victimization that allow for the anticipation of a new or renewed consciousness.
Hailed for his humor and passion, the internationally acclaimed performance artist Tim Miller has delighted, shocked, and emboldened audiences all over the world. Body Blows gathers six of Miller’s best-known performances that chart the sexual, spiritual, and political topography of his identity as a gay man: Some Golden States, Stretch Marks, My Queer Body, Naked Breath, Fruit Cocktail, and Glory Box. In Body Blows, Tim Miller leaps from the stage to the page, as each performance script is illustrated with striking photographs and accompanied by Miller’s notes and comment.
This book explores the tangible body blows—taken and given—of Miller’s life and times as explored in his performances: the queer-basher’s blow, the sweet blowing breath of a lover, the below-the-belt blow of HIV/AIDS, the psychic blows from a society that disrespects the humanity of lesbian and gay relationships. Miller’s performances are full of the put-up-your-dukes and stand-your-ground of such day-to-day blows that make up being gay in America
Genre and Identity on the Eighteenth-Century English Stage
If the whole world acted the player, how did the player act the world? In Character's Theater, Lisa A. Freeman uses this question to test recent critical discussion of eighteenth-century literature and culture. Much current work, she observes, focuses on the concept of theatricality as both the governing metaphor of social life and a primary filter of psychic perception. Hume's "theater of the mind," Adam Smith's "impartial spectator," and Diderot's "tableaux" are all invoked by theorists to describe a process whereby the private individual comes to internalize theatrical logic and apprehend the self as other. To them theatricality is a critical mechanism of modern subjectivity but one that needs to be concealed if the subject's stability is to be maintained.
Finding that much of this discussion about the "Age of the Spectator" has been conducted without reference to the play texts or actual theatrical practice, Freeman turns to drama and discovers a dynamic model of identity based on eighteenth-century conceptualizations of character. In contrast to the novel, which cultivated psychological tensions between private interiority and public show, dramatic characters in the eighteenth century experienced no private thoughts. The theater of the eighteenth century was not a theater of absorption but rather a theater of interaction, where what was monitored was not the depth of character, as in the novel, but the arc of a genre over the course of a series of discontinuous acts.
In a genre-by-genre analysis of plays about plays, tragedy, comedies of manners, humours, and intrigue, and sentimental comedy, Freeman offers an interpretive account of eighteenth-century drama and its cultural work and demonstrates that by deploying an alternative model of identity, theater marked a site of resistance to the rise of the subject and to the ideological conformity enforced through that identity formation.
New Views of an Old Subject
Many dogmas regarding Greek theatre were established by researchers who lacked experience in the mounting of theatrical productions. In his wide-ranging and provocative study, Clifford Ashby, a theatre historian trained in the practical processes of play production as well as the methods of historical research, takes advantage of his understanding of technical elements to approach his ancient subject from a new perspective. In doing so he challenges many long-held views.
Archaeological and written sources relating to Greek classical theatre are diverse, scattered, and disconnected. Ashby's own (and memorable) fieldwork led him to more than one hundred theatre sites in Greece, southern Italy, Sicily, and Albania and as far into modern Turkey as Hellenic civilization had penetrated. From this extensive research, he draws a number of novel revisionist conclusions on the nature of classical theatre architecture and production.
The original orchestra shape, for example, was a rectangle or trapezoid rather than a circle. The altar sat along the edge of the orchestra, not at its middle. The scene house was originally designed for a performance event that did not use an up center door. The crane and ekkyklema were simple devices, while the periaktoi probably did not exist before the Renaissance. Greek theatres were not built with attention to Vitruvius' injunction against a southern orientation and were probably sun-sited on the basis of seasonal touring. The Greeks arrived at the theatre around mid-morning, not in the cold light of dawn. Only the three-actor rule emerges from this eclectic examination somewhat intact, but with the division of roles reconsidered upon the basis of the actors' performance needs. Ashby also proposes methods that can be employed in future studies of Greek theatre. Final chapters examine the three-actor production of Ion, how one should not approach theatre history, and a shining example of how one should.
Ashby's lengthy hands-on training and his knowledge of theatre history provide a broad understanding of the ways that theatre has operated through the ages as well as an ability to extrapolate from production techniques of other times and places.
"This play tackles the theatrically attractive but ethically complex issue of Christian fundamentalism. Nyamnjoh, as a sociologist is well qualified to explore the social problems and psychological pressures which give rise to the born-again phenomenon, and the strong appeal of fundamentalist religion. The Convert, however is no schematic sociological tract. It deals with the conflicting imperatives in 21st century West Africa, which push ordinary people into extraordinary situations, and provides no easy solutions to the issues raised. Although the play revolves around the Ultimate Church of Christ and the four main characters affected by it, the audience is given a deftly sketched picture of a corrupt world beyond it, lacking in spiritual or community values. [..] The characterization. is remarkable for its avoidance of any obvious protagonist; the audience is allowed no clear character with whom to identify. The four main characters . have both virtues and flaws, each providing insights into ways the consumer-oriented materialism of modern life impacts upon African spirituality and community values. - David Kerr, Professor in Literature and Drama, University of Botswana ""At the core of the implicit philosophy in Nyamnjoh's The Convert . is the theatrical manifesto that contemporary society has not only to liberate itself, and its productive powers from 'Pentecostal', freak religions and distortion, it also has to liberate these same productive capacities from their present prostration. There is a deep, engaging humanism that pervades The Convert, but it is a humanism emblematic, to speak analogously, of the Aeschylean variety."" - Bate Besong, Africa Review of Books."
This crowning collection brings together seven of Bole Butakeís finest plays since 1984, namely: Dance of the Vampires; Family Saga; Lake God; Betrothal Without Libation; And Palm Wine Will Flow; The Rape of Michelle; and Shoes. More than an academic, Butake has distinguished himself as a playwright, unearthing and foregrounding the ills, travails and predicaments of a land and people trapped by the blood-dripping impunities of vampires in power. In his rich repertoire of over ten plays, Butake takes sides with the downtrodden, the wretched of the earth, the deprived and the underdogs. His jabs and jibes, aimed at the rulers, are scathing, at times vitriolic. He has excelled at a stubborn determination to ignore the sinecures, lure and allure of power without responsibility.