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

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Great Lengths Cover

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Great Lengths

Seven Works of Marathon Theater

Jonathan Kalb

"Reading this book is certainly a vigorous experience. Kalb's sense of nuance, unpredictability, and the complexity of perception brings these productions to life. He is our surrogate, our scapegoat even, enduring the length of these productions so that he can convey the essence of their power." ---Stanton B. Garner, Jr., University of Tennessee "Jonathan Kalb takes us on a tour of monumental theater events, which flaunt the rules of economy, Aristotelian and otherwise. Kalb captures these unwieldy marathon productions by skillfully mixing personal experience and scholarly analysis. I read this engaging book in a single sitting---and came away ready to join the first theater marathon I could find." ---Martin Puchner, Harvard University "Jonathan Kalb's Great Lengths leaps to the head of any class in theatre history. Rich with critical perspective of 'marathon' works by Peter Brook, Tony Kushner, Robert Wilson, and others, and written with panache and lucidity, Kalb's book is filled with suspense as he describes and demystifies more than the post-modern and post-dramatic haunting recent theatre. This is history as present event, embracing the Greeks, Shakespeare, and even Charles Dickens." ---Gordon Rogoff, Yale University We know that size matters in many areas of human endeavor, but what about works of the imagination? Why do some dramatic creations extend to five hours or more, and how does their extreme length help them accomplish extraordinarily ambitious aims? In Great Lengths, theater critic and scholar Jonathan Kalb addresses these and other questions through a close look at seven internationally prominent theater productions, including Tony Kushner's Angels in America, Robert Wilson's Einstein on the Beach, and the Royal Shakespeare Company's Nicholas Nickleby. This is a book about extreme length, monumental scope, and intensive immersion in the theater in general, written by a passionate spectator reflecting on selected pinnacles of his theatergoing over thirty years. The book's examples, deliberately chosen for their diversity, range from adapted novels and epics, to dramatic chronicles with macrohistorical and macropolitical implications, to stagings of super-size classic plays, to "postdramatic" works that negotiate the border between life and art. Kalb reconstructs each of the works, re-creating the experience of seeing it while at the same time explaining how it maintained attention and interest over so many hours, and then expanding the scope to embrace a wider view and ask broader questions. The discussion of Nicholas Nickleby, for example, considers melodrama as a basic tool of theatrical communication, and the section on Peter Brook's The Mahabharata explores the ethical problems surrounding theatrical exoticism. The chapter on Einstein on the Beach grows into a reflection on the media-age status of the much-debated Gesamtkunstwerk (or "total artwork") and a reassessment of the long avant-gardist tradition of challenging the primacy of rational language in theater. The essay on Peter Stein's Faust I + II becomes a reflection on the interpretive role of theater directors and the theatrical viability of antitheatrical closet drama. Great Lengths thus offers a remarkable panorama of the surprisingly broad field of contemporary marathon theater---an art form that diverse audiences of savvy, screen-weaned spectators continue to seek out, for the increasingly rare experiences of awe, transcendence, and sustained immersion that it provides. Great Lengths will appeal to general readers as well as theater specialists. It situates the chosen productions in various historical and critical contexts and engages with the many lively scholarly debates that have swirled around them. At the same time, it uses the productions as springboards for wide-ranging reflections on the basic purpose and enduring power of theater in an attention-challenged, media-saturated era.

The Hanlon Brothers Cover

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The Hanlon Brothers

From Daredevil Acrobatics to Spectacle Pantomime, 1833-1931

Mark Cosdon

The Hanlon Brothers is the first complete and accurate account of one of the most beloved families in nineteenth-century American theater. The Hanlons evolved a unique theatrical style that combined breath-taking acrobatics with trick scenery, novel illusions, and wild, often violent, knockabout comedy.

Hearing Difference Cover

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Hearing Difference

The Third Ear in Experimental, Deaf, and Multicultural Theater

Kanta Kochar-Lindgren

Gaillard crossed the Atlantic only a few weeks after the United States entered World War I. In his writings, he reports the efforts of American deaf leaders to secure employment for deaf workers to support the war effort. He also witnesses spirited speeches at the National Association of the Deaf convention decrying the replacement of sign language by oral education. Gaillard also depicts the many local institutions established by deaf Americans, such as Philadelphia’s All Souls Church, founded in 1888 by the country’s first ordained deaf pastor, and the many deaf clubs established by the first wave of deaf college graduates in their communities. His journal stands as a unique chronicle of the American Deaf community during a remarkable era of transition.

A History of the French New Wave Cinema Cover

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A History of the French New Wave Cinema

Richard Neupert

The French New Wave cinema is arguably the most fascinating of all film movements, famous for its exuberance, daring, and avant-garde techniques. A History of the French New Wave Cinema offers a fresh look at the social, economic, and aesthetic mechanisms that shaped French film in the 1950s, as well as detailed studies of the most important New Wave movies of the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Richard Neupert first tracks the precursors to New Wave cinema, showing how they provided blueprints for those who would follow. He then demonstrates that it was a core group of critics-turned-directors from the magazine Cahiers du Cinéma—especially François Truffaut, Claude Chabrol, and Jean-Luc Godard—who really revealed that filmmaking was changing forever. Later, their cohorts Eric Rohmer, Jacques Rivette, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, and Pierre Kast continued in their own unique ways to expand the range and depth of the New Wave. 

In an exciting new chapter, Neupert explores the subgroup of French film practice known as the Left Bank Group, which included directors such as Alain Resnais and Agnès Varda. With the addition of this new material and an updated conclusion, Neupert presents a comprehensive review of the stunning variety of movies to come out of this important era in filmmaking.

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Hollywood Unknowns

A History of Extras, Bit Players, and Stand-Ins

Anthony Slide

Extras, bit players, and stand-ins have been a part of the film industry almost from its conception. On a personal and a professional level, their stories are told in Hollywood Unknowns, the first history devoted to extras from the silent era through the present.

Hollywood Unknowns discusses the relationship of the extra to the star, the lowly position in which extras were held, the poor working conditions and wages, and the sexual exploitation of many of the hardworking women striving for a place in Hollywood society. Though mainly anonymous, many are identified by name and, for perhaps the first time, receive equal billing with the stars. And Hollywood Unknowns does not forget the bit players, stand-ins, and doubles, who work alongside the extras facing many of the same privations. Celebrity extras, silent stars who ended their days as extras, or members of various ethnic groups--all gain a deserved luster in acclaimed film writer Anthony Slide's prose. Chapters document the lives and work of extras from the 1890s to the present. Slide also treats such subjects as the Hollywood Studio Club, Central Casting, the extras in popular literature, and the efforts at unionization through the Screen Actors Guild from the 1930s onwards.

Slide chronicles events such as John Barrymore's walking off set in the middle of the day so the extras could earn another day's wages, and Cecil B. DeMille's masterful organizing of casts of thousands in films such as Cleopatra. Through personal interviews, oral histories, and the use of newly available archival material, Slide reveals in Hollywood Unknowns the story of the men, women, and even animals that completed the scenes on the silver screen.

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How Sondheim Found His Sound

Steve Swayne

“Steve Swayne’s How Sondheim Found His Sound is a fascinating treatment and remarkable analysis of America’s greatest playwright in song. His marvelous text goes a long way toward placing Stephen Sondheim among the towering artists of the late twentieth century!” —Cornel West, Princeton University “Sondheim’s career and music have never been so skillfully dissected, examined, and put in context. With its focus on his work as composer, this book is surprising and welcome.” —Theodore S. Chapin, President and Executive Director, The Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization “. . . an intriguing ‘biography’ of the songwriter’s style. . . . Swayne is to be congratulated for taking the study of this unique composer/lyricist into hitherto unnavigated waters.” —Stage Directions “The research is voluminous, as are the artistry and perceptiveness. Swayne has lived richly within the world of Sondheim’s music.” —Richard Crawford, author of America’s Musical Life: A History “Amid the ever-more-crowded bookshelf of writings on Sondheim, Swayne’s analysis of Sondheim’s development as a composer stands up as a unique and worthy study. . . . For the Sondheim aficionados, there are new ideas and new information, and for others, Swayne’s How Sondheim Found His Sound will provide an intriguing introduction into the mind of arguably the greatest and most influential living Broadway composer.” —talkinbroadway.com “What a fascinating book, full of insights large and small. An impressive analysis and summary of Sondheim’s many sources of inspiration. All fans of the composer and lovers of Broadway in general will treasure and frequently refer to Swayne’s work.” —Tom Riis, Joseph Negler Professor of Musicology and Director of the American Music Research Center, University of Colorado Stephen Sondheim has made it clear that he considers himself a “playwright in song.” How he arrived at this unique appellation is the subject of How Sondheim Found His Sound—an absorbing study of the multitudinous influences on Sondheim’s work. Taking Sondheim’s own comments and music as a starting point, author Steve Swayne offers a biography of the artist’s style, pulling aside the curtain on Sondheim’s creative universe to reveal the many influences—from classical music to theater to film—that have established Sondheim as one of the greatest dramatic composers of the twentieth century.

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The Humana Festival

The History of New Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville

Jeffrey Ullom

Far from the glittering lights of Broadway, in a city known more for its horse racing than its artistic endeavors, an annual festival in Louisville, Kentucky, has transformed the landscape of the American theater. The Actors Theatre of Louisville—the Tony Award–winning state theater of Kentucky—in 1976 successfully created what became the nation's most respected new-play festival, the Humana Festival of New American Plays.

The Humana Festival: The History of New Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville examines the success of the festival and theater’s Pulitzer Prize–winning productions that for decades have reflected new-play trends in regional theaters and on Broadway—the result of the calculated decisions, dogged determination, and good luck of its producing director, Jon Jory.

The volume details how Actors Theatre of Louisville was established, why the Humana Festival became successful in a short time, and how the event’s success has been maintained by the Louisville venue that has drawn theater critics from around the world for more than thirty years.

Author Jeffrey Ullom charts the theater’s early struggles to survive, the battles between troupe leaders, and the desperate measures to secure financial support from the Louisville community. He examines how Jory established and expanded the festival to garner extraordinary local support, attract international attention, and entice preeminent American playwrights to premier their works in the Kentucky city.  

In The Humana Festival, Ullom provides a broad view of new-play development within artistic, administrative, and financial contexts. He analyzes the relationship between Broadway and regional theaters, outlining how the Humana Festival has changed the process of new-play development and even Broadway’s approach to discovering new work, and also highlights the struggles facing regional theaters across the country as they strive to balance artistic ingenuity and economic viability.

Offering a rare look at the annual event, The Humana Festival provides the first insider’s view of the extraordinary efforts that produced the nation’s most successful new-play festival.

 

 

 

Illusive Utopia Cover

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Illusive Utopia

Theater, Film, and Everyday Performance in North Korea

Suk-Young Kim

North Korea is not just a security or human rights problem (although it is those things) but a real society. This book gets us closer to understanding North Korea beyond the usual headlines, and does so in a richly detailed, well-researched, and theoretically contextualized way. ---Charles K. Armstrong, Director, Center for Korean Research, Columbia University "One of this book's strengths is how it deals at the same time with historical, geographical, political, artistic, and cultural materials. Film and theatre are not the only arts Kim studies---she also offers an excellent analysis of paintings, fashion, and what she calls 'everyday performance.' Her analysis is brilliant, her insights amazing, and her discoveries and conclusions always illuminating." ---Patrice Pavis, University of Kent, Canterbury No nation stages massive parades and collective performances on the scale of North Korea. Even amid a series of intense political/economic crises and international conflicts, the financially troubled country continues to invest massive amounts of resources to sponsor unflinching displays of patriotism, glorifying its leaders and revolutionary history through state rituals that can involve hundreds of thousands of performers. Author Suk-Young Kim explores how sixty years of state-sponsored propaganda performances---including public spectacles, theater, film, and other visual media such as posters---shape everyday practice such as education, the mobilization of labor, the gendering of social interactions, the organization of national space, tourism, and transnational human rights. Equal parts fascinating and disturbing, Illusive Utopia shows how the country's visual culture and performing arts set the course for the illusionary formation of a distinctive national identity and state legitimacy, illuminating deep-rooted cultural explanations as to why socialism has survived in North Korea despite the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and China's continuing march toward economic prosperity. With over fifty striking color illustrations, Illusive Utopia captures the spectacular illusion within a country where the arts are not only a means of entertainment but also a forceful institution used to regulate, educate, and mobilize the population. Suk-Young Kim is Associate Professor in the Department of Theater and Dance at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and coauthor with Kim Yong of Long Road Home: A Testimony of a North Korean Camp Survivor.

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Impossible Dance

Club Culture and Queer World-Making

Fiona Buckland

"Impossible Dance is a highly accessible, original and engaging account of the complex and often heavily theorized debates around the body, identity and community. Focusing on gay, lesbian and queer club culture in the 1990s New York City, this is the first book to bring together vital issues such as dance culture, queer community, sex culture, HIV identity and politics. Based on four years of field work, the book takes readers on a journey from the streets of New York City into the dance clubs and onto the dance floor. Detailed interviews with club-goers capture their perspectives on how they stage their self-fashioning through dancing. Fiona Buckland argues that such dancing embodies and rehearses a powerful political imagination, laying claim to the space and to one's body as queer."--Publishers Weekly

In Search of Korean Traditional Opera Cover

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In Search of Korean Traditional Opera

Discourses of Ch'angguk

Andrew Killick

This is the first book on Korean opera in a language other than Korean. Its subject is ch’angguk, a form of musical theater that has developed over the last hundred years from the older narrative singing tradition of p’ansori. Andrew Killick examines the history and current practice of ch’angguk as an ongoing attempt to invent a traditional Korean opera form to compare with those of neighboring China and Japan. In this, the work addresses a growing interest within the fields of ethnomusicology and Asian studies in the adaptation of traditional arts to conditions in the modern world. Ch’angguk presents an intriguing case in that, unlike the "invented traditions" described in Hobsbawm and Ranger's influential book that were firmly established within a few years of their invention, ch’angguk remains in a marginal position relative to recognized traditional art forms such as South Korea’s "Important Intangible Cultural Properties" after more than a century. Performers, writers, directors, and historians have looked for ways to make the genre more traditional, including looking outside Korea for comparisons with traditional theater forms in other countries and for recognition of ch’angguk as a national art form by international audiences. For the benefit of readers who have not seen ch’angguk performed, the author begins with a detailed description of a typical performance, illustrated with photographs and musical examples, followed by a history of the genre—from its still disputed origins in the early twentieth century through a major revival under Japanese colonial rule and the flourishing of an all-female version (yosong kukkuk) after Liberation to the efforts of the National Changgeuk Company and others to establish ch’angguk as Korean traditional opera. Killick concludes with analyses of the stories and music of ch’angguk and a personal view on developing a Korean national theater form for international audiences.

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