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Reviews535 contribution to the process of Salvation," to differentiate between Simeon , who "announces the appearance of the Saviour," and the Magi, who "do God's Will . . . but their pilgrimage affects no-one else?" One important aspect ofthis work is its role not only as a scholarly study, but also as a guide for would-be performers and directors. Frequent references are made to considerations relating to implementation, although they are scattered throughout the book, and are therefore sometimes difficult to locate. Many of Rastall's judgments rely heavily on common sense and intuition, and his own personal experiences (81 n. 189) are occasionally cited as a guide to what should or should not be deemed appropriate practice when translating a written text into a live performance. In some cases, for example his suggestions for staging the Harrowing ofHell (283), these pointers seem to be at odds with some of the book's theoretical conclusions, but while the dynamic between these differing objectives is not always negotiated as adroitly as it might be, the focus on performance provides a crucial counterpart to the scholarly complexion ofthe work as a whole. Given the encyclopedic nature of Rastall's work, the bulk of these complaints must be regarded as minor. Indeed, this book has many strengths: Rastall's knowledge and erudition are considerable, he is generally judicious and circumspect, and his prose is exceptionally clear and precise, even when compassing highly technical subjects. In The Heaven Singing, Richard Rastall has produced an outstanding piece of scholarship, and though a full assessment ofthe achievements of the work must await the appearance of Volume 2, there can be no doubt that our understanding ofthe place ofmusic in English religious drama has been substantially increased. ANDREW R. WALKLING University ofOregon David Wiles. Tragedy in Athens: Performance Space and Theatrical Meaning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997. Pp. ? + 230. $59.95. This is a strange book; itself a hybrid, offering theory to theoreticians and concrete examples to theatrical practitioners, while generally demeaning the fundamental work of the Classicist (philology), the work draws on material gleaned from a number of sources to offer new perspectives on the performance of Greek tragedy. Wiles has chosen a good and timely subject and drawn on diverse sources to make some 536Comparative Drama interesting arguments on the Greek theater. The work, while noble in concept, is not entirely successful in execution, although it does raise some interesting points. In the final analysis, however, it says as much about the excesses of the theoretician as it does the practice of Greek drama. Wiles begins by examining the role of space, i.e., performance space, in the creation of tragedy. The first chapter is essentially a running commentary/critique on principles laid down by Oliver Taplin in his Stagecraft ofAeschylus. Wiles, although he makes clear his general admiration for Taplin's seminal work, seems unimpressed by Taplin's judgment that, ultimately, the written text must circumscribe the boundaries of performance theory. Wiles would, like any good Vichian, subordinate text to theory. That in itself might make an interesting work, although one that few Classicists would wholeheartedly endorse—but Wiles cannot quite follow through on his initial promise. (The first chapter also contains a disappointingly superfluous overview ofcritical theory commonplaces.) He proceeds rather circuitously to a discussion ofthe actual theater building of Dionysus in the fifth century, a subject that has inspired no small debate. Before Wiles gets to that theater, he first surveys the deme theaters of Athens and the theaters at Megalopolis and Epidaurus. The deme theaters he uses to examine the spatial iconography of the theatrical precincts: proximity of altars and temples, sacred processional paths, and even, in the case of Thorikos, a cemetery. The deme theaters are irregularly shaped, although on the whole they do suggest that the regular acting area was rectangular or trapezoidal in form. Megalopolis, dating from the 360s, is a semicircle, and Epidauros, best preserved of all Greek theaters, preserves a full circle orchestra. Wiles disregards the evidence ofthe deme theaters and insists on a circular stage for the Theater of Dionysus, even in the fifth century. The evidence is far from certain, and Wiles attempts to supplant...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 535-539
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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