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448Comparative Drama teenth century, she argues, Ebisu-kaki became popular in their own right and discovered that working on their own was more lucrative than remaining at the shrine. Eventually they broke away from their ritual duties and expanded their range of performance by including dramatic skits and by founding a new center for the worship of Ebisu at Awaji. Thus, the performance of Ebisu-kaki developed into a more elaborate dramatic tradition, ningyöjöruri, in which the arts of ballad recitation, shamisen (a three-stringed musical instrument), and puppet manipulation were combined. Ningyöjöruri in this style became increasingly popular, while ritual puppetries associated with the appeasement of Ebisu continued alongside, retaining their original forms in many parts of the country. The book is based on Law's field work from 1984 to 1993 on Awaji and elsewhere in Japan. Not only does her analysis delve convincingly into the origins ofthe Awaji ningyo and piecing together fragmented sources difficult even for Japanese scholars to decipher, but it also illuminates the process through which the Awaji tradition has been reconstructed and revived. One oversight only: ifLaw had discussed the ballad recitation ??jöruri, supposedly developed from Buddhist chanting to appease the souls of the dead, the book would have offered a complete study of the ritual origin of ningyöjöruri. KUNIKAZU IWANE Kanawaga University Gary Jay Williams. Our Moonlight Revels: A Midsummer Night's Dream in the Theatre. Studies in Theatre History and Culture. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1997. Pp. xiii + 344 + 16 pis. $39.95. At last, a full stage history of A Midsummer Night's Dream. We have needed one for many years, and now, in Gary Jay Williams's superb Our Moonlight Revels, it has arrived. This play requires not merely a chronicler but a sophisticated and alert sensibility, attuned to the "cultural text" dimension of production. With Williams's always deft and sure treatment, we can close on a brilliant and elusive object, opal in its qualities. Is there a giant plot to the four centuries of A Midsummer Night 's Dream! Perhaps not, and the matter is better viewed as an ongoing dialectic . This dialectic throws historic emphases on one or other side of the text, now radiant, now dark, as the tides of fashion and circumstance sweep past. Even the origins of the Dream are ambivalent. Williams does not support the "noble wedding" theory. I think myself that Shakespeare might well have had a wedding in mind as an "availability" scenario. Command performances at noble households generated spinoffincome . The example of The Merry Wives ofWindsor—where Evans Reviews449 says, "And twenty glow-worms shall our lanterns be" (5.5.77)—suggests that Shakespeare was alive to the possibility ofcost-free extras. But this view does not commit one to any specific wedding of the 1590s. It merely sees virtue in a linkage between wedding and performance. And this possibility can vibrate strangely. Williams notes wryly that the rather uneasy RSC Dream of 1981 coincided with the ill-fated nuptials of Charles and Diana. As early as Purcell's The Fairy Queen (1692), the characteristic ambivalence of the piece came out. Purcell's semi-opera was "theatreplus rather than opera-minus." The composer's ravishing music caught the drift of the text, and the recent (1998) London revival found one critic remarking on "the undercurrents of emotional sadism that drive the action." The positive, glowing side of the play, however, is what dominated nineteenth-century productions. Of these, the tuning-fork was Mme. Vestris's London production (1840). She was a highly attractive actress, and as theater manager assigned herself the role of Oberon. I am indebted to Williams for the nugget that street vendors sold plaster casts of Vestris's leg outside die theater. Vestris pioneered a casting destined to become conventional: up till 1914, with a single exception, all major Anglo-American productions featured a woman Oberon. The effect, ofcourse, was to highlight an obvious sexual allure in the text. The mid-century trains of Oberon and Titania consisted of adult women, costumed after the Romantic ballet. A New York critic of 1859 lauds the "hosts of handsome...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 448-451
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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