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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.
The Politics of Response in the Middle English Religious Drama
Offering a unique historical perspective to the study of medieval English drama, Heather Hill-Vásquez in Sacred Players argues that different treatments of audience and performance in the early drama indicate that the performance life of the drama may have continued well beyond its traditional placement in medieval history and into the Reformation and Renaissance eras.
Romanticism and the Lost Voice
“The theatre scholar’s daunting but irresistible quest to recover some echoes of performance of the past has never been more engagingly presented than in Pascoe’s account of tracing the long-silenced voice of Sarah Siddons. Her report is a warm, witty, and highly informative exploration of the methodology and the pleasures of historical research.” —Marvin Carlson, author of The Haunted Stage: The Theatre as Memory Machine During her lifetime (1755–1831), English actress Sarah Siddons was an international celebrity acclaimed for her performances of tragic heroines. We know what she looked like—an endless number of artists asked her to sit for portraits and sculptures—but what of her famous voice, reported to cause audiences to hyperventilate or faint? In The Sarah Siddons Audio Files, Judith Pascoe takes readers on a journey to discover how the actor’s voice actually sounded. In lively and engaging prose, Pascoe retraces her quixotic search, which leads her to enroll in a “Voice for Actors” class, to collect Lady Macbeth voice prints, and to listen more carefully to the soundscape of her life. Bringing together archival discoveries, sound recording history, and media theory, Pascoe shows how romantic poets’ preoccupation with voices is linked to a larger cultural anxiety about the voice’s ephemerality. The Sarah Siddons Audio Files contributes to a growing body of work on the fascinating history of sound and will engage a broad audience interested in how recording technology has altered human experience.
The Plays of Philip Barry from Paris Bound to The Philadelphia Story
In Shadowed Cocktails, Donald Anderson questions the traditional characterization of playwright Philip Barry's work. Anderson looks closely at the films based on his plays and the variations between the plays and the film adaptations. The book includes a play chronology.
As a polygamous Sherburne-educated ruler, a Scottish music aficionado, drools over Mimudeh, a sixteen-year old drum-major in a bagpipe school band, a prophecy given by a royal oracle haunts him. When the schoolgirlís father, an Opposition MP, moves a controversial motion, the child vanishes. Her parents consult the same oracle, which triggers a cyclone as politics, brutality and sexual perversion intersect. The diviner seems to disclose that the schoolgirl is already deflowered. The fiasco ropes in army generals and Mimudehís heartthrob, Archer McLeod, and everyone is sucked into the eye of the cyclone. Knife-edge drama that pits absurd realities against popular ideals takes centre-stage, rudely offering Archer a lifetime opportunity. But is a move at the end a brainy manoeuvre, a romantic act or a divine solution to a complex equation? The Shirburnian Catastrophe is a contemporary play in two parts; Squaring A Circle (Book I) and Square Circle In A Triangle (Book II). This volume contains both books.
Intersections of Theater, Performance, and Philosophy
The fifteen original essays in Staging Philosophy make useful connections between the discipline of philosophy and the fields of theater and performance and use these insights to develop new theories about theater. Each of the contributors—leading scholars in the fields of performance and philosophy—breaks new ground, presents new arguments, and offers new theories that will pave the way for future scholarship. Staging Philosophy raises issues of critical importance by providing case studies of various philosophical movements and schools of thought, including aesthetics, analytic philosophy, phenomenology, deconstruction, critical realism, and cognitive science. The essays, which are organized into three sections—history and method, presence, and reception—take up fundamental issues such as spectatorship, empathy, ethics, theater as literature, and the essence of live performance. While some essays challenge assertions made by critics and historians of theater and performance, others analyze the assumptions of manifestos that prescribe how practitioners should go about creating texts and performances. The first book to bridge the disciplines of theater and philosophy, Staging Philosophy will provoke, stimulate, engage, and ultimately bring theater to the foreground of intellectual inquiry while it inspires further philosophical investigation into theater and performance. David Krasner is Associate Professor of Theater Studies, African American Studies, and English at Yale University. His books include A Beautiful Pageant: African American Theatre, Drama, and Performance in the Harlem Renaissance, 1910-1920 and Renaissance, Parody, and Double Consciousness in African American Theatre, 1895-1910. He is co-editor of the series Theater: Theory/Text/Performance. David Z. Saltz is Associate Professor of Theatre Studies and Head of the Department of Theatre and Film Studies at the University of Georgia. He is coeditor of Theater Journal and is the principal investigator of the innovative Virtual Vaudeville project at the University of Georgia.
On Tour in Poland and America
In 1876, Poland's leading actress, Helena Modrzejewska, accompanied by family and friends, emigrated to southern California to establish a utopian commune that soon failed. Within a year Modrzejewska made her debut in the title role of Adrienne Lecouvreur at San Francisco's California Theatre. She changed her name to Modjeska and quickly became a leading star on the American stage, where she reigned for the next 30 years. During this time, she established herself as America's most esteemed Shakespearean actress, playing opposite such celebrated actors as Edwin Booth and Maurice Barrymore. Starring Madame Modjeska traces Modjeska's fabulous life and career from her illegitimate birth in Krakow, to her successive reinventions of herself as a star in both Poland and America, and finally to her enduring legacy.
A Fourteenth-CenturyTurkish Morality Play
At the heart of this volume is the translation of a fourteenth-century Turkish version of the Joseph story, better known to Western readers from the version in Genesis, first book of the Hebrew Bible. Hickman provides us with a new lens: we see the drama of the Old Testament prophet Joseph, son of Jacob, through Muslim eyes. The poem’s author, Sheyyad Hamza, lived in Anatolia during the early days of the Ottoman Empire. Hamza’s composition is rooted in the recondite and little-studied tradition of oral performance—a unique corner of Turkish verbal arts, situated between minstrelsy and the “divan” tradition—combining the roles of preacher and storyteller. A cultural document as well as a literary text that reflects the prevailing values of the time, Hamza’s play reveals a picture of Ottoman sensibility, both aesthetic and religious, at the level of popular culture in premodern Turkey. To supplement and contextualize the story, Hickman includes an introduction, a historical-literary afterword, and notes to the translation, all ably assisting an unfamiliar reader’s entry into this world.