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In beautifully constructed verse, JK Bannavti's Leopard Watch tells the story of a Fon who out of greed and veiled impiety devastates the land over which he rules. The Fon, The King of Bamkov is in a perpetual state of slumber while an illusive beast drives terror into the heart of the kingdom, killing children as well as cattle. Neither the cries of the people nor pressure from the notables seems to have any effect on him. The population of the clan diminishes daily while the Fon sleeps, snores, and drools in the day, and growls, chews, and laps in the night. When finally the notables join the youth vigilante group to hunt down the beast, they come face to face with the devourer who narrowly escapes. A day later, one of the notables, Gwei, in a drunken state encounters and kills the leopard at night as he returns from the market. Amidst jubilation and in honor of Gwei the Fon collapses off his horse and dies. His carcass lies in the same state as that of the dead leopard.
In 1875 the Rozvi Kingdom, now in present day Zimbabwe, is indistinctly besieged from within by the convergence of a missionary, Rev. Holbrook, a militant British bourgeoisie aspiring for knighthood, Sir Crowler, and an immorally amorous war emissary allegedly from King Cetshwayo of the feared Zulu Kingdom. The ëZuluí ambassador uncompromisingly makes painstaking demands. While Rev. Holbrook is earnest in his endeavours, Sir Crowler is adamant the natives are enemies of both God and Britain meant for annihilation. The elders cannot consult the oracles; all diviners having fled before the arrival of the foreigners. An enigmatic and malicious hermit comes to the fore in the calamitous confusion that ensues. But nobody can tell with certainty if the hermit is messianic or anarchical.
Studies from the Modern London Theatre
Kent State, 1970; A Play
On May 4, 1970, National Guardsmen occupying the Kent State University campus fired 67 shots in 13 seconds, leaving four students dead. This tragedy had a profound impact on Northeast Ohio and the nation and is credited as a catalyst in changing Americans’ views toward U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Supported by the Ohio Humanities Council, May 4th Voices was originally written and performed as part of a community arts project for the 40th commemoration of the events of May 4th.
The text of David Hassler’s play is based on the Kent State Shootings Oral History Project, begun in 1990 by Sandra Halem and housed in Kent State University Libraries’ Department of Special Collections and Archives. The collection is comprised of over 110 interviews, with first-person narratives and personal reactions to the events of May 4, 1970, from the viewpoints of members of the Kent community; Kent State faculty, students, alumni, staff, and administrators who were on campus that day; and National Guardsmen, police, hospital personnel, and others whose lives were affected by their experience. Weaving these voices and stories together anonymously, Hassler’s play tells the human story of May 4th and its aftermath, capturing the sense of trauma, confusion, and fear felt by all people regardless of where they stood that day.
Directed by Katherine Burke, May 4th Voices premiered on May 2, 2010, on the Kent State University campus. It offered the Kent community an opportunity to take ownership of its own tragic story and engage in a creative, healing dialogue. Now, with the publication of the play and its accompanying teacher’s guide and DVD, May 4th Voices brings to a national audience the emotional truth of this tragedy, connecting it to the larger issues of war, conflict, and trauma. A powerful work of testimony, May 4th Voices offers a new and unique contribution to the literature of the protest movement and the Vietnam era.
Essyas on the Drama of August Wilson
This stimulating collection of essays, the first comprehensive critical examination of the work of two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson, deals individually with his five major plays and also addresses issues crucial to Wilson's canon: the role of history, the relationship of African ritual to African American drama, gender relations in the African American community, music and cultural identity, the influence of Romare Bearden's collages, and the politics of drama. The collection includes essays by virtually all the scholars who have currently published on Wilson along with many established and newer scholars of drama and/or African American literature.
Eugene O'Neill, Tennessee Williams, and U.S. Dramatic Realism
Mimetic Disillusion reevaluates the history of modern U.S. drama, showing that at mid-century it turned in the direction of a poststructuralist "disillusionment with mimesis" or mimicry.
This volume focuses on two major writers of the 1930s and 1940s--Eugene O'Neill and Tennessee Williams--one whose writing career was just ending and the other whose career was just beginning. In new readings of their major works from this period, Long Day's Journey into Night, The Iceman Cometh, The Glass Menagerie, and A Streetcar Named Desire, Fleche develops connections to the writings of Jacques Derrida, Paul de Man, and Michel Foucault, among others, and discusses poststructuralism in the light of modern writers such as Bertolt Brecht, Antonin Artaud, and Walter Benjamin. Fleche also extends this discussion to the work of two contemporary playwrights, Adrienne Kennedy and Tony Kushner. The aim of Mimetic Disillusion is not to reject "mimetic" and "realistic" readings but to explore the rich complexities of these two ideas and the fruit of their ongoing relevance to U.S. theatre.
Radio Drama as Development Theatre in Sub-Saharan Africa
This book draws on years of rich empirical research on radio drama production in Cameroon to offer a strikingly new perspective in Development Theatre discourse in Africa. Chronicling the history and evolution of Development Theatre practice in Anglophone Africa and arguing for literary forms that address the basic everyday realities of ordinary people in a medium they understand, the book revisits the crucial question of utilitarian literature in a continent that continues to brandish a begging bowl even as it celebrates fifty years of independence. Radio Theatreís inherent latitude to reach the masses in a manner and matter that they identify with makes of it an invaluable albeit often neglected sub-genre in the universe of Development Theatre. Reaching an enlarged audience through radio drama productions ñ plays that address the rustic, ascetic and practical realities of the people ñ is liberating. Through radio plays and their capacity to provide for an enormous degree of authenticity, ordinary people are able to enhance their self-esteem. Like main stream Development Theatre, Radio Drama sets out to address the concerns of all in an all-embracing approach that explores interactive learning characterized by continuous questioning of and adaptation to reality. It disparages the omniscience of the superstructure meant to be perceived as indispensable and all-knowing. As a medium of development communication with unique aesthetic qualities found in and not limited to sound and silence, Radio Drama creates events and condenses reality into dramatic constellations with a high sense of authenticity that invites its audience to participate in the creation process with a strong sense of direction in a story, a plot and a moral. This people-oriented culture re-animation process is the fertile ground for grassroots empowerment. It is the point of departure for feasible development initiatives that this book explores.
W. B. Yeats to Marina Carr, Second Edition
Modern Irish Drama: W. B. Yeats to Marina Carr presents a thorough introduction to the recent history of one of the greatest dramatic and theatrical traditions in Western culture. Originally published in 1988, this updated edition provides extensive new material, charting the path of modern and contemporary Irish drama from its roots in the Celtic Revival to its flowering in world theater. The lives and careers of more than fifty modern Irish playwrights are discussed along with summaries of their major plays and recommendations for further reading.
Oedipus Rex is the greatest of the Greek tragedies, a profound meditation on the human condition. The story of the mythological king, who is doomed to kill his father and marry his mother, has resonated in world culture for almost 2,500 years. But Sophocles’ drama as originally performed was much more than a great story—it was a superb poetic script and exciting theatrical experience. The actors spoke in pulsing rhythms with hypnotic forward momentum, making it hard for audiences to look away. Interspersed among the verbal rants and duels were energetic songs performed by the chorus.
The Premier Stage for African American Drama
Penumbra Theatre Company was founded in 1976 by Lou Bellamy as a venue for African American voices within the Twin Cities theatre scene and has stood for more than thirty-five years at the intersection of art, culture, politics, and local community engagement. It has helped launch the careers of many internationally respected theatre artists and has been repeatedly recognized for its artistic excellence as the nation’s foremost African American theatre.
Penumbra is the first-ever history of this barrier-breaking institution. Based on extensive interviews with actors, directors, playwrights, producers, funders, and critics, Macelle Mahala’s book offers a multifaceted view of the theatre and its evolution. Penumbra follows the company’s emergence from the influential Black Arts and settlement house movements; the pivotal role Penumbra played in the development of August Wilson’s career and, in turn, how Wilson became an avid supporter and advocate throughout his life; the annual production of Black Nativity as a community-building performance; and the difficult economics of African American theatre production and how Penumbra has faced these challenges for nearly four decades.
Penumbra is a testament to how a theatre can respond to and thrive within changing political and cultural realities while contributing on a national scale to the African American presence on the American stage. It is a celebration of theatre as a means of social and cultural involvement—both local and national—and ultimately, of Penumbra’s continuing legacy of theatre that is vibrant, diverse, and vital.