Any review of 20th-century American theatre invariably leads to the term realism. Yet despite the strong tradition of theatrical realism on the American stage, the term is frequently misidentified, and the practices to which it refers are often attacked as monolithically tyrannical, restricting the potential of the American national theatre.
This book reconsiders realism on the American stage by addressing the great variety and richness of the plays that form the American theatre canon. By reconsidering the form and revisiting many of the plays that contributed to the realist tradition, the authors provide the opportunity to apprise strengths often overlooked by previous critics. The volume traces the development of American dramatic realism from James A. Herne, the "American Ibsen," to currently active contemporaries such as Sam Shepard, David Mamet, and Marsha Norman. This frank assessment, in sixteen original essays, reopens a critical dialog too long closed.
American Dramatic Realisms, Viable Frames of Thought
The Struggle for the Real--Interpretive Con§ict, Dramatic Method, and the Paradox of Realism
The Legacy of James A. Herne: American Realities and Realisms
Whose Realism? Rachel Crothers's Power Struggle in the American Theatre
The Provincetown Players' Experiments with Realism
Servant of Three Masters: Realism, Idealism, and "Hokum" in American High Comedy
Staging Consciousness argues that theater is a living invalidation of the Western dualism of mind and body, activating human consciousness through its embodiment of thought in performance. While consciousness theory has begun to find ways to bridge dualist gaps, Staging Consciousness suggests that theater has anticipated these advances, given the ways in which the physical theater promotes nonphysical thought, connecting the two realms in unique and ingenious ways.
William W. Demastes makes use of the writings of such varied theater practitioners as Antonin Artaud, Jerzy Grotowski, Samuel Beckett, Tony Kushner, Sam Shepard, Spalding Gray, Peter Shaffer, and others, illuminating theater as proof that mind is an extension of body. The living stage incubates and materializes thought in a way that highlights the processes of daily existence outside the theater. This book offers a new way for theater practitioners to look at the unique value of the theater and an invitation for philosophers and scientists to search for new paradigms in theater, the oldest of art forms.
William W. Demastes is Professor of English, Louisiana State University. His previous books include Theatre of Chaos: Beyond Absurdism, into Disorderly Order.
Theatre History Studies is a peer-reviewed journal of theatre history and scholarship published annually since 1981 by the Mid-American Theatre Conference (MATC), a regional body devoted to theatre scholarship and practice. The conference encompasses the states of Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. The purpose of the conference is to unite persons and organizations within the region with an interest in theatre and to promote the growth and development of all forms of theatre.