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Racial Transgression and the Politics of Black Performance
Beautifully written and cogently argued, The Problem of the Color[blind] addresses one of the most persistent sociopolitical questions in contemporary culture: 'Are we a multicultural nation, or a colorblind one?' A tremendously illuminating study that promises to break new ground in the fields of theater and performance studies, African American Studies, feminist theory, cultural studies, and film and television studies. ---Daphne Brooks, Princeton University The Problem of the Color[blind] focuses on black performance in theater, film, and television to examine and theorize questions of multiculturalism versus colorblindness in American culture. The book explores aspects of nontraditional casting, a practice that assumes the possibility and desirability of a performing body that is somehow race neutral. Nontraditional casting occurs often enough that audiences can recognize it as a product of integration within American culture, but it's practiced far less than it could be and remains largely untheorized. Brandi Catanese explores questions that colorblind casting provokes, including what cultural and aesthetic processes are at play and where race neutrality is located (e.g., in the eyes of the spectator, in the body of the performer, in the medium of the performance?). Concluding that ideologies of transcendence are ahistorical and therefore unenforceable, Catanese advances the concept of racial transgression as her chapters move between readings of dramatic texts, films, and popular culture, and debates in critical race theory and the culture wars. Brandi Wilkins Catanese is Associate Professor of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies and African American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
New Plays and Performances from Ireland
Queer Notions is a seminal anthology of new plays and performance documentation from Ireland. This collection is a record of some of the most important performative ideas and embodied interventions that have shaped queer culture and theatre and performance practice in Ireland in recent times, principally in the years following the decriminalization of homosexuality in 1993, up to and including the present. The anthology includes plays, experimental performance documentation, and a visual essay that reveal the impassioned creativity that illuminates and invigorates the margins of culture.
From the Absurd to the Virtual
“Herbert Blau’s long sustained inquiry into theater’s most provocative questions—presence, liveness, and finitude—are, at their deepest level, queries into life. Reality Principles returns us to Blau’s inspiring provocations and extends them to new subjects—9/11 and Ground Zero, the nature of charisma, Pirandello and Strindberg.” —Peggy Phelan, Stanford University Reality Principles gathers recent essays by esteemed scholar and theater practitioner Herbert Blau covering a range of topics. The book’s provocative essays—including “The Emotional Memory of Directing,” “The Faith-Based Initiative of the Theater of the Absurd,” “Virtually Yours: Presence, Liveness, Lessness,” “The Human Nature of the Bot”—were given as keynotes and/or memorial lectures and are collected here for the first time. The essays take up a remarkable array of topics—from body art and the self-inflicted punishments of Stelarc, Orlan, and the Viennese Actionists, to Ground Zero and 9/11—and allow Blau to address critical questions of theater and theory, performance and relevance, the absurd and the virtual, history and illusion, community and memory. Reality Principles offers a panoramic view of Herbert Blau’s perspectives on life and the imitation of life on stage.
Scene Design and the American Theatre
In Rediscovering Mordecai Gorelik: Scene Design and the American Theatre, Anne Fletcher traces Gorelik's career and life in the theater. Many of the 27 color and black-and-white illustrations are of designs by Gorelik used in staged productions.
London Theatregoing, 1840-1880
This innovative work begins to fill a large gap in theatre studies: the lack of any comprehensive study of nineteenth-century British theatre audiences. In an attempt to bring some order to the enormous amount of available primary material, Jim Davis and Victor Emeljanow focus on London from 1840, immediately prior to the deregulation of that city's theatres, to 1880, when the Metropolitan Board of Works assumed responsibility for their licensing. In a further attempt to manage their material, they concentrate chapter by chapter on seven representative theatres from four areas: the Surrey Theatre and the Royal Victoria to the south, the Whitechapel Pavilion and the Britannia Theatre to the east, Sadler's Wells and the Queen's (later the Prince of Wales's) to the north, and Drury Lane to the west.
Davis and Emeljanow thoroughly examine the composition of these theatres' audiences, their behavior, and their attendance patterns by looking at topography, social demography, police reports, playbills, autobiographies and diaries, newspaper accounts, economic and social factors as seen in census returns, maps and transportation data, and the managerial policies of each theatre.
Essays in Performance Historiography
How do historians represent the past? How do theatre historians represent performance events? The fifteen challenging essays in Representing the Past: Essays in Performance Historiography focus on the fundamental epistemological conditions and procedures that serve as the foundational ideas that guide all historians in their endeavors. Unified by their investigations into how best to understand and then represent the past, this diverse group of scholars in the field of theatre history and performance studies offers insights into the abiding issues that all historians face in the task of representing human events and actions.
Five primary ideas provide the topics as well as the intellectual parameters for this book: archive, time, space, identity, and narrative. Taking these as the conceptual framework for historical research and analysis, the essayists cover an expansive range of case studies and problems in the historical study of performance from the Americas to Africa and from Europe to India and China. Considering not only how historians think about these concepts in their research and writing but more pointedly—and historiographically—how they think with them, the essayists demonstrate the power and centrality of each of these five ideas in historical scholarship from initial research to the writing of essays and books.
Performance history has a diversity of identities, locations, sources, and narratives. This compelling engagement with the concepts essential to historical understanding is a valuable contribution to the historiography of performance—for students, teachers, and the future of the discipline itself. Expanding upon its classic predecessor, Interpreting the Theatrical Past: Essays in the Historiography of Performance, this exciting new collection illustrates the contemporary richness of historical thinking and writing in the field of performance history.
Theater and Politics in Late New Order Indonesia
Resistance on the National Stage analyzes the ways in which, between 1985 and 1998, modern theater practitioners in Indonesia contributed to a rising movement of social protest against the long-governing New Order regime of President Suharto. It examines the work of an array of theater groups and networks from Jakarta, Bandung, and Yogyakarta that pioneered new forms of theater-making and new themes that were often presented more directly and critically than previous groups had dared to do.
Michael H. Bodden looks at a wide range of case studies to show how theater contributed to and helped build the opposition. He also looks at how specific combinations of social groups created tensions and gave modern theater a special role in bridging social gaps and creating social networks that expanded the reach of the prodemocracy movement. Theater workers constructed new social networks by involving peasants, Muslim youth, industrial workers, and lower-middle-class slum dwellers in theater productions about their own lives. Such networking and resistance established theater as one significant arena in which the groundwork for the ouster of Suharto in May 1998, and the succeeding Reform era, was laid.
Resistance on the National Stage will have broad appeal, not only for scholars of contemporary Indonesian culture and theater, but also for those interested in Indonesian history and politics, as well as scholars of postcolonial theater and culture.
The Playwright's Producer
Rethinking Ritual and Other Theories of Origin
The topic of the origins of theatre is one of the most controversial in theatre studies, with a long history of heated discussions and strongly held positions. In The Roots of Theatre, Eli Rozik enters the debate in a feisty way, offering not just another challenge to those who place theatre’s origins in ritual and religion but also an alternative theory of roots based on the cultural and psychological conditions that made the advent of theatre possible.
Rozik grounds his study in a comprehensive review and criticism of each of the leading historical and anthropological theories. He believes that the quest for origins is essentially misleading because it does not provide any significant insight for our understanding of theatre. Instead, he argues that theatre, like music or dance, is a sui generis kind of human creativity—a form of thinking and communication whose roots lie in the spontaneous image-making faculty of the human psyche.
Rozik’s broad approach to research lies within the boundaries of structuralism and semiotics, but he also utilizes additional disciplines such as psychoanalysis, neurology, sociology, play and game theory, science of religion, mythology, poetics, philosophy of language, and linguistics. In seeking the roots of theatre, what he ultimately defines is something substantial about the nature of creative thought—a rudimentary system of imagistic thinking and communication that lies in the set of biological, primitive, and infantile phenomena such as daydreaming, imaginative play, children’s drawing, imitation, mockery (caricature, parody), storytelling, and mythmaking.