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Film, Theater, and Performing Arts > Theater and Performance Studies

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Dark Matter Cover

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Dark Matter

Invisibility in Drama, Theater, and Performance

Andrew Sofer

Dark Matter maps the invisible dimension of theater whose effects are felt everywhere in performance. Examining phenomena such as hallucination, offstage character, offstage action, sexuality, masking, technology, and trauma, Andrew Sofer engagingly illuminates the invisible in different periods of postclassical western theater and drama. He reveals how the invisible continually structures and focuses an audience’s theatrical experience, whether it’s black magic in Doctor Faustus, offstage sex in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, masked women in The Rover, self-consuming bodies in Suddenly Last Summer, or surveillance technology in The Archbishop’s Ceiling. Each discussion pinpoints new and striking facets of drama and performance that escape sight. Taken together, Sofer’s lively case studies illuminate how dark matter is woven into the very fabric of theatrical representation. Written in an accessible style and grounded in theater studies but interdisciplinary by design, Dark Matter will appeal to theater and performance scholars, literary critics, students, and theater practitioners, particularly playwrights and directors.

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Dashiell Hammett and the Movies

William H. Mooney

As the father of the hardboiled detective genre, Dashiell Hammett had a huge influence on Hollywood. Yet, it is easy to forget how adaptable Hammett’s work was, fitting into a variety of genres and inspiring generations of filmmakers.

Dashiell Hammett and the Movies offers the first comprehensive look at Hammett’s broad oeuvre and how it was adapted into films from the 1930s all the way into the 1990s. Film scholar William H. Mooney reveals the wide range of films crafted from the same Hammett novels, as when The Maltese Falcon was filmed first as a pre-Code sexploitation movie, then as a Bette Davis screwball comedy, and finally as the Humphrey Bogart classic. He also considers how Hammett rose to Hollywood fame not through the genre most associated with him, but through a much fizzier concoction, the witty murder mystery The Thin Man. To demonstrate the hold Hammett still has over contemporary filmmakers, the book culminates in an examination of the Coen brothers’ pastiche Miller’s Crossing

Mooney not only provides us with an in-depth analysis of Hammett adaptations, he also chronicles how Hollywood enabled the author’s own rise to stardom, complete with a celebrity romance and a carefully crafted public persona. Giving us a behind-the-scenes look at the complex power relationships, cultural contexts, and production concerns involved in bringing Hammett’s work from the page to the screen, Dashiell Hammett and the Movies offers a fresh take on a literary titan. 

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Deaf Side Story

Deaf Sharks, Hearing Jets, and a Classic American Musical

Mark Rigney

This telling book reveals the critical role played by a little-known group called the “Ducks,” a tight-knit band of six alumni determined to see a deaf president at Gallaudet. Deaf President Now! details how they urged the student leaders to ultimate success, including an analysis of the reasons for their achievement in light of the failure of many other student movements. This fascinating study also scrutinizes the lasting effects of this remarkable episode in “the civil rights movement of the deaf.” Deaf President Now! tells the full story of the insurrection at Gallaudet University, an exciting study of how deaf people won social change for themselves and all disabled people everywhere through a peaceful revolution.

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The Director Within

Storytellers of Stage and Screen

Rose Eichenbaum

In Rose Eichenbaum’s latest book on the confluence of art making and human expression, she sits down with thirty-five modern day storytellers—the directors of theater, film, and television. Eichenbaum’s subjects speak with revealing clarity about the entertainment industry, the role and life of the director, and how theatrical and cinematic storytelling impacts our culture and our lives. The Director Within includes interviews with Peter Bogdanovich (The Last Picture Show), Julie Taymor (The Lion King), Mel Brooks (Blazing Saddles), Tim Van Patten (The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire), Hal Prince (The Phantom of the Opera), Barry Levinson (Rain Man), and many others. The interviews are skillfully crafted, sensitively executed, and brimming with honesty and insight. The accompanying portraits demonstrate Eichenbaum’s mastery of photography and convey the truth, depth, and intimacy of their subjects. The Director Within is an inspirational, informative, and entertaining resource for anyone interested in creativity, art making, and artistic collaboration. The book includes a listing of works from each of the directors.

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Documentary Trial Plays in Contemporary American Theater

Jacqueline O’Connor

From the Chicago Conspiracy Trial and the O. J. Simpson trial to the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill congressional hearings, legal and legislative proceedings in the latter part of the twentieth-century kept Americans spellbound. Situated on the shifting border between imagination and the law, trial plays edit, arrange, and reproduce court records, media coverage, and first-person interviews, transforming these elements into a performance. In this first book-length critical study of contemporary American documentary theater, Jacqueline O’Connor examines in depth ten such plays, all written and staged since 1970, and considers the role of the genre in re-creating and revising narratives of significant conflicts in contemporary history.

Documentary theater, she shows, is a particularly appropriate and widely utilized  theatrical form for engaging in debate about tensions between civil rights  and institutional power, the inconsistency of justice, and challenges to gender norms. For each of the plays discussed, including The Trial of the Catonsville Nine, Unquestioned Integrity: The Hill/Thomas Hearings, and The Laramie Project, O'Connor provides historical context and a brief production history before considering the trial the play focuses on. Grouping plays historically and thematically, she demonstrates how dramatic representation advances our understanding of the law's power while revealing the complexities that hinder society's pursuit of justice. 

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Drafting for the Theatre

Dennis Dorn and Mark Shanda

In this newly revised second edition, veteran stage designers and technical directors Dennis Dorn and Mark Shanda introduce industry-standard drafting and designing practices with step-by-step discussions, illustrations, worksheets, and problems to help students develop and refine drafting and other related skills needed for entertainment set production work. By incorporating the foundational principles of both hand- and computer-drafting approaches throughout the entire book, the authors illustrate how to create clear and detailed drawings that advance the production process. 

Early chapters focus on the basics of geometric constructions, orthographic techniques, soft-line sketching applications, lettering, and dimensioning. Later chapters discuss real-life applications of production drawing and ancillary skills such as time and material estimation and shop-drawing nomenclature. Two chapters detail a series of design and shop drawings required to mount a specific design project, providing a guided path through both phases of the design/construction process. Most chapters conclude with one or more worksheets or problems that provide readers with an opportunity to test their understanding of the material presented. 

The authors' discussion of universal CAD principles throughout the manuscript provides a valuable foundation that can be used in any computer-based design, regardless of the software. Dorn and Shanda treat the computer as another drawing tool, like the pencil or T-square, but one that can help a knowledgeable drafter potentially increase personal productivity and accuracy when compared to traditional hand-drafting techniques. 

Drafting for the Theatre, second edition assembles in one book all the principal types of drawings, techniques, and conventional wisdom necessary for the production of scenic drafting, design, and shop drawings. It is richly illustrated with numerous production examples and is fully indexed to assist students and technicians in finding important information. It is structured to support a college-level course in drafting, but will also serve as a handy reference for the working theatre professional.

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Drama of Fallen France, The

Reading la Comedie sans Tickets

The Drama of Fallen France examines various dramatic works written and/or produced in Paris during the four years of Nazi occupation and explains what they may have meant to their original audiences. Because of widespread financial support from the new French government at Vichy, the former French capital underwent a renaissance of theatre during this period, and both the public playhouses and the private theatres provided an amazing array of new productions and revivals. Some of the plays considered here are well known: Anouilh’s Antigone, Sartre’s The Flies, Claudel’s The Satin Slipper. Others have remained obscure, such as Cocteau’s The Typewriter, Giraudoux’s The Apollo of Marsac, and Montherlant’s Nobody’s Son; and two—André Obey’s Eight Hundred Meters and Simone Jollivet’s The Princess of Ursins—have remained virtually unread since the early 1940s. In examining French culture under the Vichy regime and the Nazis, Kenneth Krauss links the politics of gender and sexuality with the more traditional political concepts of collaboration and resistance. A final chapter on Truffaut’s 1980 film, The Last Métro, demonstrates how the present manages to rewrite and revision the complex and seemingly contradictory reality of the past.

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The Dramatic Art of Athol Fugard

From South Africa to the World

Albert Wertheim

"Albert Wertheim's study of Fugard's plays is both extremely insightful and beautifully written... This book is aimed not only at teachers, students, scholars, and performers of Fugard but also at the person who simply loves going to see a Fugard play at the theatre." -- Nancy Topping Bazin, Eminent Scholar and Professor Emerita, Old Dominion University

Athol Fugard is considered one of the most brilliant, powerful, and theatrically astute of modern dramatists. The energy and poignancy of his work have their origins in the institutionalized racism of his native South Africa, and more recently in the issues facing a new South Africa after apartheid. Albert Wertheim analyzes the form and content of Fugard's dramas, showing that they are more than a dramatic chronicle of South African life and racial problems. Beginning with the specifics of his homeland, Fugard's plays reach out to engage more far-reaching issues of human relationships, race and racism, and the power of art to evoke change. The Dramatic Art of Athol Fugard demonstrates how Fugard's plays enable us to see that what is performed on stage can also be performed in society and in our lives; how, inverting Shakespeare, Athol Fugard makes his stage the world.

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The Dramaturgy of Senecan Tragedy

Thomas Kohn

The first-century Roman tragedies of Seneca, like all ancient drama, do not contain the sort of external stage directions that we are accustomed to today; nevertheless, a careful reading of the plays reveals such stage business as entrances, exits, setting, sound effects, emotions of the characters, etc. The Dramaturgy of Senecan Tragedy teases out these dramaturgical elements in Seneca's work and uses them both to aid in the interpretation of the plays and to show the playwright's artistry. Thomas D. Kohn provides a detailed overview of the corpus, laying the groundwork for appreciating Seneca's techniques in the individual dramas. Each of the chapters explores an individual tragedy in detail, discussing the dramatis personae and examining how the roles would be distributed among a limited number of actors, as well as the identity of the Chorus. The Dramaturgy of Senecan Tragedy makes a compelling argument for Seneca as an artist and a dramaturg in the true sense of the word: "a maker of drama." Regardless of whether Seneca composed his plays for full-blown theatrical staging, a fictive theater of the mind, or something in between, Kohn demonstrates that he displays a consistency and a careful attentiveness to details of performance. While other scholars have applied this type of performance criticism to individual tragedies or scenes, this is the first comprehensive study of all the plays in twenty-five years, and the first ever to consider not just stagecraft, but also metatheatrical issues such as the significant distribution of roles among a limited number of actors, in addition to the emotional states of the characters. Scholars of classics and theater, along with those looking to stage the plays, will find much of interest in this study.

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Dreaming America

Popular Front Ideals and Aethetics in Children's Plays of the Federal Theatre Project

Dreaming America: Popular Front Ideals and Aesthetics in Children’s Plays of the Federal Theatre Project by Leslie Elaine Frost traces how the tumultuous politics of the late 1930s shaped the stories and staging of federally funded plays for children. Indeed, children’s theater was central to the Federal Theatre Project’s vision of building a national theater. Frost argues that representations of the child and childhood in the FTP children’s plays stage the hopes and anxieties of a nation destabilized by both economic collapse and technological advances. A declining economy and the first stagnant birthrate in three centuries yoked the national economy to the individual family. Profound disagreements over appropriate models of education and parenting, as well as over issues of ethnicity and class, constituted fundamental arguments over democratic values and social norms. Frost locates these plays within the immediate context of the production materials in the FTP archives, as well as within the broader culture of the Great Depression, drawing on disparate primary materials—from parenting magazines to strike literature to political journals—and referencing a range of popular events—from the Joe Louis/Max Schmeling fights to Hollywood movies. As the focus of Depression-era adult anxieties and hopes and as the embodiment of vigor, dynamism, and growth, children carried symbolic value both as the future of America and as the America of the future. Frost examines representative plays’ connections to other media, culture, and politics to situate their singular trajectories in the social history of the Federal Theatre Project and Popular Front culture.

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