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

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Hollywood Unknowns Cover

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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.

How Sondheim Found His Sound Cover

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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.

The Humana Festival Cover

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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.

 

 

 

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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

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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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International Women Stage Directors

Anne Fliotsos

A fascinating study of women in the arts, International Women Stage Directors is a comprehensive examination of women directors in twenty-four diverse countries. Organized by country, chapters provide historical context and emphasize how social, political, religious, and economic factors have impacted women's rise in the theatre, particularly in terms of gender equity. Contributors tell the stories of their home country's pioneering women directors and profile the most influential women directors practicing today, examining their career paths, artistry, and major achievements. Contributors are Ileana Azor, Dalia Basiouny, Kate Bredeson, Miřenka Čechová, Marié-Heleen Coetzee, May Farnsworth, Anne Fliotsos, Laura Ginters, Iris Hsin-chun Tuan, Maria Ignatieva, Adam J. Ledger, Roberta Levitow, Jiangyue Li, Lliane Loots, Diana Manole, Karin Maresh, Gordon McCall, Erin B. Mee, Ursula Neuerburg-Denzer, Claire Pamment, Magda Romanska, Avra Sidiropoulou, Margaretta Swigert-Gacheru, Alessandra Vannucci, Wendy Vierow, Vessela S. Warner, and Brenda Werth.

Inventing the Modern Yiddish Stage Cover

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Inventing the Modern Yiddish Stage

Essays in Drama, Performance, and Show Business

Inventing the Modern Yiddish Stage Essays in Drama, Performance, and Show Business Edited by Joel Berkowitz and Barbara Henry

While Yiddish theater is best known as popular entertainment, it has been shaped by its creators’ responses to changing social and political conditions. Inventing the Modern Yiddish Stage: Essays in Drama, Performance, and Show Business showcases the diversity of modern Yiddish theater by focusing on the relentless and far-ranging capacity of its performers, producers, critics, and audiences for self-invention. Editors Joel Berkowitz and Barbara Henry have assembled essays from leading scholars that trace the roots of modern Yiddish drama and performance in nineteenth-century Eastern Europe and span a century and a half and three continents, beyond the heyday of a Yiddish stage that was nearly eradicated by the Holocaust, to its post-war life in Western Europe and Israel. Each chapter takes its own distinct approach to its subject and is accompanied by an appendix consisting of primary material, much of it available in English translation for the first time, to enrich readers’ appreciation of the issues explored and also to serve as supplementary classroom texts. Chapters explore Yiddish theater across geography—from Poland and Russia to France, the United States, Argentina, and Israel and Palestine. Readers will spend time with notable individuals and troupes; meet creators, critics, and audiences; sample different dramatic genres; and learn about issues that preoccupied both artists and audiences. The final section presents an extensive bibliography of book-length works and scholarly articles on Yiddish drama and theater, the most comprehensive resource of its kind available. Collectively these essays illuminate the modern Yiddish stage as a phenomenon that was constantly reinventing itself and simultaneously examining and questioning that very process. Scholars of Jewish performance and those interested in theater history will appreciate this wide-ranging volume.

It Cover

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It

Joseph Roach

A consumer’s guide to iconic celebrity and ageless glamour “Strikingly original, wickedly witty, and thoroughly learned, Roach’s anatomy of abnormally interesting people and the vicarious pleasure we take in our modern equivalents to gods and royals will captivate its readers from the first page. I dare you to read just one chapter!” —Felicity Nussbaum, University of California, Los Angeles “It considers the effect that arises when spectacularly compelling performers and cultural fantasy converge, as in the outpouring of public grief over the death of Princess Diana. . . . An important work of cultural history, full of metaphysical wit . . . It gives us a fresh vocabulary for interpreting how after-images endure in cultural memory.” —Andrew Sofer, Boston College “Joseph Roach’s enormous erudition, sharp wit, engaging style, and gift for finding the most telling historical detail or literary quote are here delightfully applied to the intriguing subject of why certain historical and theatrical figures have possessed a special power to fascinate their public.” —Marvin Carlson, Graduate Center, City University of New York That mysterious characteristic “It”—“the easily perceived but hard-to-define quality possessed by abnormally interesting people”—is the subject of Joseph Roach’s engrossing new book, which crisscrosses centuries and continents with a deep playfulness that entertains while it enlightens. Roach traces the origins of “It” back to the period following the Restoration, persuasively linking the sex appeal of today’s celebrity figures with the attraction of those who lived centuries before. The book includes guest appearances by King Charles II, Samuel Pepys, Flo Ziegfeld, Johnny Depp, Elinor Glyn, Clara Bow, the Second Duke of Buckingham, John Dryden, Michael Jackson, and Lady Diana, among others.

Jews and the Making of Modern German Theatre Cover

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Jews and the Making of Modern German Theatre

 While it is common knowledge that Jews were prominent in literature, music, cinema, and science in pre-1933 Germany, the fascinating story of Jewish co-creation of modern German theatre is less often discussed. Yet for a brief time, during the Second Reich and the Weimar Republic, Jewish artists and intellectuals moved away from a segregated Jewish theatre to work within canonic German theatre and performance venues, claiming the right to be part of the very fabric of German culture. Their involvement, especially in the theatre capital of Berlin, was of a major magnitude both numerically and in terms of power and influence. The essays in this stimulating collection etch onto the conventional view of modern German theatre the history and conflicts of its Jewish participants in the last third of the nineteenth and first third of the twentieth centuries and illuminate the influence of Jewish ethnicity in the creation of the modernist German theatre.

 The nontraditional forms and themes known as modernism date roughly from German unification in 1871 to the end of the Weimar Republic in 1933. This is also the period when Jews acquired full legal and trade equality, which enabled their ownership and directorship of theatre and performance venues. The extraordinary artistic innovations that Germans and Jews co-created during the relatively short period of this era of creativity reached across the old assumptions, traditions, and prejudices that had separated people as the modern arts sought to reformulate human relations from the foundations to the pinnacles of society.

 The essayists, writing from a variety of perspectives, carve out historical overviews of the role of theatre in the constitution of Jewish identity in Germany, the position of Jewish theatre artists in the cultural vortex of imperial Berlin, the role played by theatre in German Jewish cultural education, and the impact of Yiddish theatre on German and Austrian Jews and on German theatre. They view German Jewish theatre activity through Jewish philosophical and critical perspectives and examine two important genres within which Jewish artists were particularly prominent: the Cabaret and Expressionist theatre. Finally, they provide close-ups of the Jewish artists Alexander Granach, Shimon Finkel, Max Reinhardt, and Leopold Jessner. By probing the interplay between “Jewish” and “German” cultural and cognitive identities based in the field of theatre and performance and querying the effect of theatre on Jewish self-understanding, they add to the richness of intercultural understanding as well as to the complex history of theatre and performance in Germany.

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