Tully, Richard Walton, 1877-1945. Bird of paradise.
Theater -- Economic aspects -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
Theater and society -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
This article examines Richard Walton Tully's forgotten play The Bird of Paradise (1912) that became a major box-office success for over twelve years before being forced to close due to alleged plagiarism. The play is set in 1890s Hawaii and was a major influence in popularizing Hawaiian performance culture throughout the US and beyond. The article argues that the play's disappearance from theatre historiography is largely due to the discipline's adoption of a modernist privileging of aesthetics, which has largely obscured theatre's impact on cultural history. To rectify such lacunae the article proposes a commodification paradigm that considers theatre and commercially successful plays as cultural commodities rather than as aesthetic objects.
Murphy, Arthur, 1727-1805. Hamlet, with alterations.
Garrick, David, 1717-1779.
Dramatists, English -- Economic conditions.
The career of Arthur Murphy (1727-1805) bears exceptional witness not only to the precarious financial and legal condition of dramatic authors in Georgian England, but also—and more importantly—to the theatre's capacity to reconceive the author's position within the burgeoning culture of print. Murphy, who was both a playwright and a practicing barrister, spent his entire career trying to redefine the professional status of dramatic authors. He failed in the law; he succeeded in the drama. The unlikely vehicle for his success was Hamlet, with Alterations (1772)—a play neither published nor performed in its author's lifetime. The play, a parody of Garrick's radical adaptation of Hamlet, succeeded not in changing the law but in changing the discourse about the relationship between a dramatic author and the commodity of a dramatic text.
Theater -- Ireland -- Dublin -- History -- 18th century.
Riots -- Ireland -- Dublin -- History -- 18th century.
This essay investigates the participation and agency of women performers and spectators in the eighteenth-century playhouse through an examination of a protracted conflict known as the Kelly Riots that took place in Dublin in 1747. This conflict, which was sparked by actor-manager Thomas Sheridan's attempt to end the custom of allowing male spectators access to the area behind the scenes during the performance, has traditionally been read as part of a renegotiation of the conception of the "gentleman." This article examines the role that women played in this conflict—not, as the standard interpretation has it, as endangered victims, but as members of a new constituency that appeared to be forming across lines of class, religion, and ethnicity, and which for that brief historical moment suggested an alternative model of
identity that might threaten some of the power structures that were supporting and supported by the legitimate theater. The essay concludes with an extended reading of the performance that ended the first phase of the riots—the 19 March 1747 benefit performance of Nicholas Rowe's The Fair Penitent—which offers a new perspective on the play as well as on the impact that the imposition of a stable and unbreakable curtain line had on the agency of the female spectator.
Barrie, J. M. (James Matthew), 1860-1937. Peter Pan.
Drama -- Technique.
When Peter Pan asks audiences to affirm their belief in fairies in order to revive Tinker Bell, this can be interpreted as an affirmation of the willing suspension of disbelief thought to be an essential condition of theatrical spectating. However, closer analysis of the original 1904 production of Peter Pan, including its variation from conventional pantomime, reveals the intertext of two contemporaneous debates in ethnology: the idea that the last of the fairy folk were departing from Britain, and the more empirical observation that gypsy-tinkers were losing their rural way of life. This reveals Peter Pan's query as a reflection about the status of oppressed groups, and thus less an affirmation of innocence than a referendum on the desirability of modernity. This case study is postulated as an example of dramatic license—a previously under-theorized concept—proposing this as a term with specific referentiality to the theatrical medium, in which a mimetic, intellectual, and ideological problem is explicitly placed before an audience in order to elicit a response.
This essay argues for theatre as a mode of becoming rather than one of vanishing. By working through the temporal constructs that have traditionally fostered a sense of transience in performance, this essay attempts to establish appearance as a category of thought. It focuses on the praxis of performance, taking as its example a 2002 production in the Philadelphia Fringe Festival entitled machines machines machines machines machines machines machines and its subsequent unfolding in the everyday. Contrary to the dominant critical model of thought that casts theatre as inevitably and unstoppably moving towards its own end, absence, and death, this essay contends that performance is a force of animate presence, continuation, and becoming.