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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.
Two Plays of Captivity
Best known today as the author of Don Quixote—one of the most beloved and widely read novels in the Western tradition—Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616) was a poet and a playwright as well. After some early successes on the Madrid stage in the 1580s, his theatrical career was interrupted by other literary efforts. Yet, eager to prove himself as a playwright, shortly before his death he published a collection of his later plays before they were ever performed.
With their depiction of captives in North Africa and at the Ottoman court, two of these, "The Bagnios of Algiers" and "The Great Sultana," draw heavily on Cervantes's own experiences as a captive, and echo important episodes in Don Quixote. They are set in a Mediterranean world where Spain and its Muslim neighbors clashed repeatedly while still remaining in close contact, with merchants, exiles, captives, soldiers, and renegades frequently crossing over between the two sides. The plays provide revealing insights into Spain's complex perception of the world of Mediterranean Islam.
Despite their considerable literary and historical interest, these two plays have never before been translated into English. This edition presents them along with an introductory essay that places them in the context of Cervantes's drama, the early modern stage, and the political and cultural relations between Christianity and Islam in the early modern period.
In Nzarayaperaís village, famine and hunger strike as rain could not fall. The sky remains blue with scorching heat that leaves no creature desiring to move on with life. Chief Nzarayapera and his councillors believe this scourge is a curse from the ancestors. They think of holding a ceremony to mollify the ancestors and petition rain. The ceremony is held, but nothing happens except that hunger and famine strike even harder. This sets a fertile ground for conflict between traditionalists, Christians and scientists who lay blame on one another and take turns to intercede for the people. What comes out of this conflict only requires you to read Rain Petitioning for yourself. Equally there to awaken your curiosity is Step Child, the second play in this collection.
The Russian Joke in Cultural Context
In his original new study, Seth Graham analyzes a rich and forgotten vein of humor in an otherwise bleak environment. The late Soviet period (1961–1986) hardly seems fertile ground for humor, but Russian jokes (anekdoty) about life in the Soviet Union were ubiquitous. The cultural and political relaxation in the decade following Stalin’s death produced considerable optimism among Soviet citizens. The anekdot exploited and exposed what Graham calls "Soviet diglossia" (official Sovietese vs. Russian everyday language) and emphasized the distance between official myths and quotidian reality. Jokes engaged a range of official and popular culture genres and also worked meta textually, referring to the political consequences of jokes. While the dissidents of this period, who stressed the heroic and opposed everything Soviet, have been much written about, Graham’s work on the anekdoty—written in the third person, ironic, and engaged with everything Soviet—fills a hole that has been overlooked in cultural history.
Actresses, Performance, and the Eighteenth-Century British Theater
In eighteenth-century England, actresses were frequently dismissed as mere prostitutes trading on their sexual power rather than their talents. Yet they were, Felicity Nussbaum argues, central to the success of a newly commercial theater. Urban, recently moneyed, and thoroughly engaged with their audiences, celebrated actresses were among the first women to achieve social mobility, cultural authority, and financial independence. In fact, Nussbaum contends, the eighteenth century might well be called the "age of the actress" in the British theater, given women's influence on the dramatic repertory and, through it, on the definition of femininity.
Treating individual star actresses who helped spark a cult of celebrity—especially Anne Oldfield, Susannah Cibber, Catherine Clive, Margaret Woffington, Frances Abington, and George Anne Bellamy—Rival Queens reveals the way these women animated issues of national identity, property, patronage, and fashion in the context of their dramatic performances. Actresses intentionally heightened their commercial appeal by catapulting the rivalries among themselves to center stage. They also boldly rivaled in importance the actor-managers who have long dominated eighteenth-century theater history and criticism. Felicity Nussbaum combines an emphasis on the celebrated actresses themselves with close analysis of their diverse roles in works by major playwrights, including George Farquhar, Nicholas Rowe, Colley Cibber, Arthur Murphy, David Garrick, Isaac Bickerstaff, and Richard Sheridan. Hers is a comprehensive and original argument about the importance of actresses as the first modern subjects, actively shaping their public identities to make themselves into celebrated properties.