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Film, Theater, and Performing Arts
The Moving Image in Contemporary Art
Offering historical and theoretical positions from a variety of art historians, artists, curators, and writers, this groundbreaking collection is the first substantive sourcebook on abstraction in moving-image media. With a particular focus on art since 2000, Abstract Video addresses a longer history of experimentation in video, net art, installation, new media, expanded cinema, visual music, and experimental film. Editor Gabrielle Jennings—a video artist herself—reveals as never before how works of abstract video are not merely, as the renowned curator Kirk Varnedoe once put it, "pictures of nothing," but rather amorphous, ungovernable spaces that encourage contemplation and innovation. In explorations of the work of celebrated artists such as Jeremy Blake, Mona Hatoum, Pierre Huyghe, Ryoji Ikeda, Takeshi Murata, Diana Thater, and Jennifer West, alongside emerging artists, this volume presents fresh and vigorous perspectives on a burgeoning and ever-changing arena of contemporary art.
American News Media and the Psychedelic Experience
Now synonymous with Sixties counterculture, LSD actually entered the American consciousness via the mainstream. Time and Life , messengers of lumpen-American respectability, trumpeted its grand arrival in a postwar landscape scoured of alluring descriptions of drug use while lesser outlets piggybacked on their coverage with stories by turns sensationalized and glowing. Acid Hype offers the untold tale of LSD's wild journey from Brylcreem and Ivory soap to incense and peppermints. As Stephen Siff shows, the early attention lavished on the drug by the news media glorified its use in treatments for mental illness but also its status as a mystical--yet legitimate--gateway to exploring the unconscious mind. Siff's history takes readers to the center of how popular media hyped psychedelic drugs in a constantly shifting legal and social environment, producing an intricate relationship between drugs and media experience that came to define contemporary pop culture. It also traces how the breathless coverage of LSD gave way to a textbook moral panic, transforming yesterday's refined seeker of truths into an acid casualty splayed out beyond the fringe of polite society.
The chapters in Acting provide a fascinating, in-depth look at the history of film acting, from its inception in 1895 when spectators thrilled at the sight of vaudeville performers, Wild West stars, and athletes captured in motion, to the present when audiences marvel at the seamless blend of human actors with CGI. Experts in the field take readers behind the silver screen to learn about the craft of film acting in six eras: the silent screen (1895–1928), classical Hollywood (1928–1946), postwar Hollywood (1947–1967), the auteur renaissance (1968–1980), the New Hollywood (1981–1999), and the modern entertainment marketplace (2000–present). The contributors pay special attention to definitive performances by notable film stars, including Lillian Gish, Dick Powell, Ginger Rogers, Beulah Bondi, Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro, Nicholas Cage, Denzel Washington, and Andy Serkis.
Movie Stars of the 1980s
Acting for America focuses on the way film icons have engaged in and defined some major issues of cultural and social concern to America during the 1980s. Scholars employing a variety of useful approaches explore how these movie stars' films speak to an increased audience awareness of advances in feminism, new ideas about masculinity, and the complex political atmosphere in the Age of Reagan. The essays demonstrate the range of these stars' contributions to such conversations in a variety of films, including blockbusters and major genres.
Acting in Real Time by renowned Dutch director and acting teacher Paul Binnerts describes his method for Real-Time Theater, which authorizes actors to actively determine how a story is told---they are no longer mere vehicles for delivering the playwright's message or the director's interpretations of the text. This level of involvement allows actors to deepen their grasp of the material and amplify their stage presence, resulting in more engaged and nuanced performances. The method offers a postmodern challenge to Stanislavski and Brecht, whose theories of stage realism dominated the twentieth century. In providing a new way to consider the actor's presence on stage, Binnerts advocates breaking down the "fourth wall" that separates audiences and actors and has been a central tenet of acting theories associated with realism. In real-time theater, actors forgo attempts to become characters and instead understand their function to be storytellers who are fully present on stage and may engage the audience and their fellow actors directly. Paul Binnerts analyzes the ascendance of realism as the dominant theater and acting convention and how its methods can hinder the creation of a more original, imaginative theater. His description of the techniques of real-time theater is illuminated by practical examples from his long experience in the stage. The book then offers innovative exercises that provide training in the real-time technique, including physical exercises that help the actor become truly present in performance. Acting in Real Time also includes a broad overview of the history of acting and realism's relationship to the history of theater architecture, offering real-time theater as an alternative. The book will appeal to actors and acting students, directors, stage designers, costume designers, lighting designers, theater historians, and dramaturgs.
Gender, Drama, and Nostalgia in Ancient Greece
Greek drama demands a story of origins, writes Karen Bassi in Acting Like Men. Abandoning the search for ritual and native origins of Greek drama, Bassi argues for a more secular and less formalist approach to the emergence of theater in ancient Greece. Bassi takes a broad view of Greek drama as a cultural phenomenon, and she discusses a wide variety of texts and artifacts that include epic poetry, historical narrative, philosophical treatises, visual media, and the dramatic texts themselves. In her discussion of theaterlike practices and experiences, Bassi proposes new conceptual categories for understanding Greek drama as a cultural institution, viewing theatrical performance as part of what Foucault has called a discursive formation. Bassi also provides an important new analysis of gender in Greek culture at large and in Athenian civic ideology in particular, where spectatorship at the civic theater was a distinguishing feature of citizenship, and where citizenship was denied women. Acting Like Men includes detailed discussions of message-sending as a form of scripted speech in the Iliad, of disguise and the theatrical body of Odysseus in the Odyssey, of tyranny as a theaterlike phenomenon in the narratives of Herodotus, and of Dionysus as the tyrannical and effeminate god of the theater in Euripides' Bacchae and Aristophanes' Frogs. Bassi concludes that the validity of an idealized masculine identity in Greek and Athenian culture is highly contested in the theater, where--in principle--citizens become passive spectators. Thereafter the author considers Athenian theater and Athenian democracy as mutually reinforcing mimetic regimes. Acting Like Men will interest those interested in the history of the theater, performance theory, gender and cultural studies, and feminist approaches to ancient texts. Karen Bassi is Associate Professor of Classics, University of California, Santa Cruz.
Intimate Conversations with Great Actors
In Rose Eichenbaum's third work on the confluence of art making and human expression, she delves into the lives of thirty-five celebrated actors through intimate conversations and photographic portraits. With her probing questions and disarming manner, she captures the essential character of her subjects while shining a light on the art that defines them. The work provides extraordinary insights on the craft of acting with discussions of process, techniques, tools of the trade, and how to advice for aspiring actors from seasoned veterans. These stars of stage and screen, known for signature roles and critically acclaimed performances, emerge in The Actor Within with masks and wardrobe removed. Here, they speak their own lines, tell their own stories, and raise the curtain on what it means to live the actor's life--the challenge of mastering their craft, the drama of big breaks and career woes, the search for meaningful roles, and above all, having the courage to bare their souls before theater audiences or the camera. For the artists featured in this work, acting is more than a profession; it is how they make their way in the world and artfully merge their inner sense of humanness with universal truths. This collection serves as an important inspirational resource for anyone interested in making art, regardless of medium.
The Actor Within includes interviews with Karl Malden, Ruby Dee, Ed Harris, Piper Laurie, Marcia Gay Harden, William H. Macy, Ellen Burstyn, Joe Mantegna, Debra Winger, Julia Stiles, Elliott Gould, Elijah Wood, Stockard Channing, Bill Pullman, Amanda Plummer, Marlee Matlin, Charles Durning, Marsha Mason, and many others.
Kentucky emerged as a prime site for theatrical activity in the early nineteenth century. Most towns, even quite small ones, constructed increasingly elaborate opera houses, which stood as objects of local pride and symbols of culture. These theaters often hosted amateur performances, providing a forum for talent and a focus for community social life. As theatrical attendance rose, performance halls began offering everything from drama to equestrian shows to burlesque.
Today many architects believe that the design of a theater should not detract from the stage or screen. Marilyn Casto shows that nineteenth-century Kentucky audiences, however, not only expected elaborate decor but considered it a delightful part of the theatergoing experience. Embellished arches and painted and gilded walls and ceilings enhanced the theatricality of the performance while adding to the excitement of an evening out.
In Actors, Audiences, and Historic Theaters of Kentucky, Casto investigates the social and architectural history of Kentucky theaters, paying special attention to the actors who performed in them and the audiences who saw it all. A captivating glimpse into a disappearing slice of American popular culture, her work examines what people considered entertaining, what they hoped to gain from theatergoing, and how they chose and experienced the theaters' architectural settings. In the social and physical design of these theaters, Casto explores nearly two centuries of the state's and nation's cultural history.
Theater and Politics in Colonial and Postcolonial India
Despite its importance to literary and cultural texts of resistance, theater has been largely overlooked as a field of analysis in colonial and postcolonial studies. Acts of Authority/Acts of Resistance seeks to address that absence, as it uniquely views drama and performance as central to the practice of nationalism and anti-colonial resistance. Nandi Bhatia argues that Indian theater was a significant force in the struggle against oppressive colonial and postcolonial structures, as it sought to undo various schemes of political and cultural power through its engagement with subjects derived from mythology, history, and available colonial models such as Shakespeare. Bhatia's attention to local histories within a postcolonial framework places performance in a global and transcultural context. Drawing connections between art and politics, between performance and everyday experience, Bhatia shows how performance often intervened in political debates and even changed the course of politics. One of the first Western studies of Indian theater to link the aesthetics and the politics of that theater, Acts of Authority/Acts of Resistance combines in-depth archival research with close readings of dramatic texts performed at critical moments in history. Each chapter amplifies its themes against the backdrop of specific social conditions as it examines particular dramatic productions, from The Indigo Mirror to adaptations of Shakespeare plays by Indian theater companies, illustrating the role of theater in bringing nationalist, anticolonial, and gendered struggles into the public sphere. Nandi Bhatia is Associate Professor of English at the University of Western Ontario.
LGBT Performance and the Politics of Pleasure
Acts of Gaiety explores the mirthful modes of political performance by LGBT artists, activists, and collectives that have inspired and sustained deadly serious struggles for revolutionary change. The book explores antics such as camp, kitsch, drag, guerrilla theater, zap actions, rallies, manifestos, pageants, and parades alongside more familiar forms of "legitimate theater." Against queer theory's long-suffering romance with mourning and melancholia and a national agenda that urges homosexuals to renounce pleasure if they want to be taken seriously by mainstream society, Acts of Gaiety seeks to reanimate notions of "gaiety" as a political value for LGBT activism. The book mines the archives of lesbian-feminist activism of the 1960s-70s, highlighting the outrageous gaiety that lay at the center of the social and theatrical performances of the era and uncovering original documents long thought to be lost. Juxtaposing historical figures such as Valerie Solanas and Jill Johnston with more recent performers and activists (including Hothead Paisan, Bitch & Animal, and the Five Lesbian Brothers), Warner shows how reclaiming this largely discarded and disavowed past elucidates possibilities for being and belonging. Acts of Gaiety explores the mutually informing histories of gayness as politics and as joie de vivre, along with the centrality of liveliness to queer performance and protest.