As Karen Malpede points out in her introduction to Acts of War, tragedy "arose as a complement to, perhaps also as an antidote to, war." The greatest of the early playwrights wrote from experience—Aeschylus and Sophocles were generals in the Athenian army, and Euripides was a combat veteran. Electronic media reports war instantly, but the stage provides an unrivaled venue for facing the horror of armed conflict on a human scale.This timely anthology of plays by American and British writers bears witness to the realities of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for combatants and civilians alike and asks what it means to be a citizen in a democracy at war. From violence on the battlefield and in the cells of Guantanamo to the toll exacted on the homefront, the seven plays collected by Malpede, Messina, and Shuman explore in depth the costs of war. Sometimes with humor or erotic charge, always with compassion and surprising insight, these contemporary plays return to the theater a necessary social edge.
Karen Malpede’s introduction sets the plays in the broader contexts of theater’s roots and recent history, while award-winning journalist and author Chris Hedges provides a foreword.
After Brecht: British Epic Theater is the first book to fully explore contemporary British drama in the light of the influence of German playwright Bertolt Brecht. Focusing on the work of Howard Brenton, Edward Bond, Caryl Churchill, David Hare, Trevor Griffiths, and John McGrath, the book examines Brechtian techniques and style within the work of each playwright, while highlighting the divergent development of each.
The book has been enriched by the author's in-depth conversations with the playwrights. The topics covered include contemporary politics and the theater, the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company, and such well-known fringe companies as Foco Novo, Joint Stock, Portable Theatre, and 7:84. Reinelt examines each playwright within an interpretive frame drawn from an application of Brecht's theories and practice to the historically specific situation of post-war British theater.
The book will appeal to those interested in the relationship between politics and art and contemporary European theater and its antecedents.
"After Brecht represents the best and most detailed engagement with the contemporary British theater scene to date." --Stanton B. Garner, Jr.
"This fine study . . . confronts issues that are important to all students and practitioners of the theater. Sensitive to the uniqueness of each of the playwrights in her study, Reinelt demonstrates that Brechtian theory can be modified in many ways by those who share the belief that 'politics and aesthetics are inseparably linked.'" --Choice
Janelle Reinelt is Chair of the Department of Dramatic Art and Dance, University of California-Davis.
Taking the reader on an inward journey from façades to closets, from physical to psychic space, Architectural Involutions offers an alternative genealogy of theater by revealing how innovations in architectural writing and practice transformed an early modern sense of interiority. The book launches from a matrix of related “platforms”—a term that in early modern usage denoted scaffolds, stages, and draftsmen’s sketches—to situate Alberti, Shakespeare, Jonson, and others within a landscape of spatial and visual change.
As the English house underwent a process of inward folding, replacing a logic of central assembly with one of dissemination, the subject who negotiated this new scenography became a flashpoint of conflict in both domestic and theatrical arenas. Combining theory with archival findings, Mimi Yiu reveals an emergent desire to perform subjectivity, to unfold an interior face to an admiring public. Highly praised for its lucid writing, comprehensive supplementary material, and engaging tone, Architectural Involutions was the winner of the 2016 MLA Prize for Independent Scholars.
Like our own, early modern beliefs about race depended on metaphorical, selective, and contradictory understandings of how membership in groups is determined. Although race took distinctive forms in the past, the fallacies that underlie early modern racial experience generally are precisely-and surprisingly-the same as those in contemporary culture.
Exploring the similar underpinnings of early modern and contemporary ideas of difference, Barbarous Play examines English Renaissance understandings of race as depicted in drama. Reading plays by Shakespeare, Marlowe, Webster, and Middleton, Bovilsky offers case studies of how racial meanings are generated by narratives of boundary crossing-especially miscegenation, religious conversion, class transgression, and moral and physical degeneracy. In the process, she reveals deep parallels between the period’s conceptions of race and gender.
Barbarous Play contests the widely held view that race and racism depend on modern science for their existence and argues that understanding just what is false and figurative in past depictions of race, such as those found in Othello, The Merchant of Venice, The White Devil, and The Changeling, can clarify the illogic of present-day racism.
Lara Bovilsky is assistant professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis.
Bloody Tyrants and Little Pickles traces the theatrical repertoire of a small group of white Anglo-American actresses as they reshaped the meanings of girlhood in Britain, North America, and the British West Indies during the first half of the nineteenth century. It is a study of the possibilities and the problems girl performers presented as they adopted the manners and clothing of boys, entered spaces intended for adults, and assumed characters written for men. It asks why masculine roles like Young Norval, Richard III, Little Pickle, and Shylock came to seem “normal” and “natural” for young white girls to play, and it considers how playwrights, managers, critics, and audiences sought to contain or fix the at-times dangerous plasticity they exhibited both on and off the stage.
Schweitzer analyzes the formation of a distinct repertoire for girls in the first half of the nineteenth century, which delighted in precocity and playfulness and offered up a model of girlhood that was similarly joyful and fluid. This evolving repertoire reflected shifting perspectives on girls’ place within Anglo-American society, including where and how they should behave, and which girls had the right to appear at all.
The Book of the Play is a collection of essays that examines early modern drama in the context of book history. Focusing on the publication, marketing, and readership of plays opens fresh perspectives on the relationship between the cultures of print and performance and more broadly between drama and the public sphere. Marta Straznicky’s introduction offers a survey of approaches to the history of play reading in this period, and the collection as a whole consolidates recent work in textual, bibliographic, and cultural studies of printed drama. Individually, the essays advance our understanding of play reading as a practice with distinct material forms, discourses, social settings, and institutional affiliation. Part One, “Real and Imagined Communities,” includes four essays on play-reading communities and the terms in which they are distinguished from the reading public at large. Cyndia Clegg surveys the construction of readers in prefaces to published plays; Lucy Munro traces three separate readings of a single play, Edward Sharpham’s The Fleer; Marta Straznicky studies women as readers of printed drama; and Elizabeth Sauer describes how play reading was mobilized for political purposes in the period of the civil war. In Part Two, “Play Reading and the Book Trade,” five essays consider the impact of play reading on the public sphere through the lens of publishing practices. Zachary Lesser offers a revisionist account of black-letter typeface and the extent to which it may be understood as an index of popular culture; Alan Farmer examines how the emerging news trade of the 1620s and 1630s affected the marketing of printed drama; Peter Berek traces the use of generic terms on title pages of plays to reveal their intersection with the broader culture of reading; Lauren Shohet demonstrates that the Stuart masque had a parallel existence in the culture of print; and Douglas Brooks traces the impact print had on eclipsing performance as the medium in which the dramatist could legitimately lay claim to having authored his text. The individual essays focus on selected communities of readers, publication histories, and ideologies and practices of reading; the collection as a whole demonstrates the importance of textual production and reception to understanding the place of drama in the early modern public sphere.
The Bottom Translation represents the first critical attempt at applying the ideas and methods of the great Russian critic, Mikhail Bakhtin, to the works of Shakespeare and other Elizabethans. Professor Kott uncovers the cultural and mythopoetic traditions underlying A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Tempest, Dr. Faustus, and other plays. His method draws him to interpret these works in the light of the carnival and popular tradition as it was set forth by Bakhtin. The Bottom Translation breaks new ground in critical thinking and theatrical vision and is an invaluable source of new ideas and perspectives. Included in this volume is also an extraordinary essay on Kurosawa's "Ran" in which the Japanese filmmaker recreates King Lear.
Among the films inspired by Orson Welles's lifelong involvement with Shakespeare, the greatest is Chimes at Midnight (1966). It is a masterly conflation of the Shakespearean history plays that feature Falstaff, the great comic figure played by Welles himself in the film. For Welles, the character was also potentially tragic: the doomed friendship between Falstaff and Prince Hal becomes an image of the end of an age. To this epic subject Welles brings the innovative film techniques that made him famous in Citizen Kane, The Lady from Shanghai,"and Touch of Evil.
This volume offers a complete continuity script of Chimes at Midnight, including its famous battle sequence. Each shot is described in detail and is keyed to the original Shakesperian sources, thus making the volume an invaluable guide to Welles as an adaptor and creator of texts. The first complete transcription of the continuity script of Chimes is accompanied by the editor's critical introduction on Welles's transformation of Shakespeare; a special interview with Keith Baxter, one of the film's principal actors, which discusses its production history; reviews and articles; and a biographical sketch of Welles, a filmography, and a bibliography.
This bibliographic guide directs the reader to a prize selection of the best modern, analytical studies of every play, anonymous play, masque, pageant, and "entertainment" written by more than two dozen contemporaries of Shakespeare in the years between 1580 and 1642. Together with Shakespeare's plays, these works comprise the most illustrious body of drama in the English language.
“I here and there o’heard a Coxcomb cry,
Ah, rot—’tis a Woman’s Comedy.”
Thus Aphra Behn ushers in a new era for women in the British Theatre (Sir Patient Fancy, 1678). In the hundred years that were to follow—and exactly those years that Curtain Calls examines—women truly took the theater world by storm.
For each woman who chose a career in the theater world of the eighteenth century, there is a unique tale of struggle, insult, success, good or bad fortune, disaster, seduction, or fame. Whether acting, writing, reviewing, or stage managing, women played a major, if frequently unacknowledged, role in the history of the theater from the late seventeenth through the early nineteenth centuries. From Alpha Behn’s earliest plays through the glorious celebrity of Sara Siddons, women molded the taste of the age and carved out in the theater one of the few available opportunities for independence and renown.
Not all the women who tried succeeded, of course, and even the best faced opposition as they challenged the male stronghold of playwriting and theater managing. Curtain Calls maps the new territory as these pioneering women staked it for their own; it chronicles their lives, their triumphs, and their losses.
We begin with Aphra Behn, whose first play was staged in 1670, and conclude in the early decades of the nineteenth century with Inchbald and Siddons. The one hundred and fifty years encompassed by their lives contain the careers of dozens of lesser–known women, a network, as Dr. Johnson would have it, encompassing both talent and tribulation.
Contributors include: Edward Langhans, Linda R. Payne, Pat Rogers, Maureen e. Mulvihill, Deborah Payne, Betty Rizzo, Ellen Donkin, Frances M. Kavenik, Jessica Munns, nancy Cotton, Edna L. Steevs, Doreen Saar, Jean B. Kern, Katherine M. Rogers, Constance Clark, William J. Burling, Judith Phillips Stanton, Douglas Butler, Rose Zimbardo, and the editors.
Dark Mattermaps the invisible dimension of theater whose effects are felt everywhere in performance. Examining phenomena such as hallucination, offstage character, offstage action, sexuality, masking, technology, and trauma, Andrew Sofer engagingly illuminates the invisible in different periods of postclassical western theater and drama. He reveals how the invisible continually structures and focuses an audience’s theatrical experience, whether it’s black magic in Doctor Faustus, offstage sex in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, masked women in The Rover, self-consuming bodies in Suddenly Last Summer, or surveillance technology in The Archbishop’s Ceiling. Each discussion pinpoints new and striking facets of drama and performance that escape sight. Taken together, Sofer’s lively case studies illuminate how dark matter is woven into the very fabric of theatrical representation. Written in an accessible style and grounded in theater studies but interdisciplinary by design, Dark Matter will appeal to theater and performance scholars, literary critics, students, and theater practitioners, particularly playwrights and directors.
How was it possible for drama, especially biblical representations, to appear in the Christian West given the church's condemnation of the theatrum of the ancient world?In a book with radical implications for the study of medieval literature, Lawrence Clopper resolves this perplexing question.
Drama, Play, and Game demonstrates that the theatrum repudiated by medieval clerics was not "theater" as we understand the term today. Clopper contends that critics have misrepresented Western stage history because they have assumed that theatrum designates a place where drama is performed. While theatrum was thought of as a site of spectacle during the Middle Ages, the term was more closely connected with immodest behavior and lurid forms of festive culture. Clerics were not opposed to liturgical representations in churches, but they strove ardently to suppress May games, ludi, festivals, and liturgical parodies. Medieval drama, then, stemmed from a more vernacular tradition than previously acknowledged-one developed by England's laity outside the boundaries of clerical rule.
The Duchess of Suffolk
Richard Dutton and Steven Galbraith The Ohio State University Press, 2015 Library of Congress PR2499.D78L54 2015 | Dewey Decimal 822.3
With the inaugural edition of the Early Modern Drama Texts series, Richard Dutton and Steven K. Galbraith illuminate the only surviving work of playwright and actor Thomas Drue. First performed by the Palsgrave’s Men at the Fortune Theater in 1624, The Duchess of Suffolk dramatizes the exile of Protestant noblewoman Katherine Willoughby (1519–80) during the reign of Catholic Queen Mary I (1516–58). Drawing from popular accounts in works by John Foxe and Thomas Deloney, Drue created a narrative of exaggerated peril, as the Duchess and her companions are chased across the continent. The embellished history evokes many iconic figures of the Reformation, from the celebrated Oxford Martyrs Hugh Latimer, Thomas Cranmer, and Nicholas Ridley to Bishop Edmund Bonner, whose infamous reputation had earned him the soubriqet “bloody Bonner.” A tragicomic history, The Duchess of Suffolk still resonated when it was written and performed in early seventeenth-century England some seventy years later.
With this volume, Dutton and Galbraith provide a critical apparatus that situates The Duchess of Suffolk in historical context and suggests an explanation for its continued resonance. They account for the play’s censorship in 1624 by detailing how it evoked contemporary parallels to the controversial foreign policy of King James I. More specifically, the editors offer an introduction that includes a historical overview of the author, staging, printing, and reception. Facing facsimiles of the original are pages with the updated text, complete with annotations to clarify language and staging details. This edition of The Duchess of Suffolk will have something to offer to early modern drama scholars as well as scholars of book history.
In this survey of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American drama, Tice L. Miller examines American plays written before a canon was established in American dramatic literature and provides analyses central to the culture that produced them. Entertaining the Nation: American Drama in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries evaluates plays in the early years of the republic, reveals shifts in taste from the classical to the contemporary in the 1840s and 1850s, and considers the increasing influence of realism at the end of the nineteenth century.
Miller explores the relationship between American drama and societal issues during this period. While never completely shedding its English roots, says Miller, the American drama addressed issues important on this side of the Atlantic such as egalitarianism, republicanism, immigration, slavery, the West, Wall Street, and the Civil War.
In considering the theme of egalitarianism, the volume notes Alexis de Tocqueville’s observation in 1831 that equality was more important to Americans than liberty. Also addressed is the Yankee character, which became a staple in American comedy for much of the nineteenth century.
Miller analyzes several English plays and notes how David Garrick’s reforms in London were carried over to the colonies. Garrick faced an increasingly middle-class public, offers Miller, and had to make adjustments to plays and to his repertory to draw an audience.
The volumealso looks at the shift in drama that paralleled the one in political power from the aristocrats who founded the nation to Jacksonian democrats. Miller traces how the proliferation of newspapers developed a demand for plays that reflected contemporary society and details how playwrights scrambled to put those symbols of the outside world on stage to appeal to the public. Steamships and trains, slavery and adaptations of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and French influences are presented as popular subjects during that time.
Entertaining the Nation effectively outlines the civilizing force of drama in the establishment and development of the nation, ameliorating differences among the various theatergoing classes, and provides a microcosm of the changes on and off the stage in America during these two centuries.
Nearly all residents of England and its colonies between 1860 and 1914 were active theatergoers, and many participated in the amateur theatricals that defined late Victorian life. The Victorian theater was not an abstract figuration of the world as a stage, but a media system enmeshed in mass lived experience that fulfilled in actuality the concept of a theatergoing nation. Everyone’s Theater turns to local history, the words of everyday Victorians found in their diaries and production records, to recover this lost chapter of theater history in which amateur drama domesticates the stage. Professional actors and playwrights struggled to make their productions compatible with ideas and techniques that could be safely reproduced in the home—and in amateur performances from Canada to India. This became the first true English national theater: a society whose myriad classes found common ground in theatrical display. Everyone’s Theater provides new ways to extend Victorian literature into the dimension of voice, sound, and embodiment, and to appreciate the pleasures of Victorian theatricality.
By examining representations of women on stage and in the many printed materials aimed at them, Karen Newman shows how female subjectivity—both the construction of the gendered subject and the ideology of women's subjection to men—was fashioned in Elizabethan and Jacobean England. Her emphasis is not on "women" so much as on the category of "femininity" as deployed in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.
Through the critical lens of poststructuralism, Newman reads anatomies, conduct and domesticity handbooks, sermons, homilies, ballads, and court cases to delineate the ideologies of femininity they represented and produced. Arguing that drama, as spectacle, provides a peculiarly useful locus for analyzing the management of femininity, Newman considers the culture of early modern London to reveal how female subjectivity was fashioned and staged in the plays of Shakespeare, Jonson, and others.
The aesthetics of frame theory form the basis of Framing Shakespeare on Film. This groundbreaking work expands on the discussion of film constructivists in its claim that the spectacle of Shakespeare on film is a problem-solving activity.
Kathy Howlett demonstrates convincingly how viewers' expectations for understanding Shakespeare on film can be manipulated by the director's cinematic technique. Emphasizing that the successful film can transform Shakespeare's text while remaining rooted in Shakespearean conceptions, Howlett raises the question of how directors and audiences understand the genre of Shakespeare on film and reveals how the medium alters the patterns through which the audience views Shakespeare.
Katharine Eisaman Maus explores Renaissance writers' uneasy preoccupation with the inwardness and invisibility of truth. The perceived discrepancy between a person's outward appearance and inward disposition, she argues, deeply influenced the ways English Renaissance dramatists and poets conceived of the theater, imagined dramatic characters, and reflected upon their own creativity.
Reading works by Kyd, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Jonson, and Milton in conjuction with sectarian polemics, gynecological treatises, and accounts of criminal prosecutions, Maus delineates unexplored connections among religious, legal, sexual, and theatrical ideas of inward truth. She reveals what was at stake—ethically, politically, epistemologically, and theologically—when a writer in early modern England appealed to the difference between external show and interior authenticity. Challenging the recent tendency to see early modern selfhood as defined in wholly public terms, Maus argues that Renaissance dramatists continually payed homage to aspects of inner life they felt could never be manifested onstage.
Lothario’s Corpse unearths a performance history, on and off the stage, of Restoration libertine drama in Britain’s eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. While standard theater histories emphasize libertine drama’s gradual disappearance from the nation’s acting repertory following the dispersal of Stuart rule in 1688, Daniel Gustafson traces its persistent appeal for writers and performers wrestling with the powers of the emergent liberal subject and the tensions of that subject with sovereign absolutism. With its radical, absolutist characters and its scenarios of aristocratic license, Restoration libertine drama became a critical force with which to engage in debates about the liberty-loving British subject’s relation to key forms of liberal power and about the troubling allure of lawless sovereign power that lingers at the heart of the liberal imagination. Weaving together readings of a set of literary texts, theater anecdotes, political writings, and performances, Gustafson illustrates how the corpse of the Restoration stage libertine is revived in the period’s debates about liberty, sovereign desire, and the subject’s relation to modern forms of social control. Ultimately, Lothario’s Corpse suggests the “long-running” nature of Restoration theatrical culture, its revived and revised performances vital to what makes post-1688 Britain modern.
Published by Bucknell University Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.
Today's successful plays and playwrights achieve their prominence not simply because of their intrinsic merit but because of the work of mediators, who influence the whole trajectory of a playwright's or a theatre company's career. Critics and academic writers are primarily considered the makers of reputations, but funding organizations and various media agents as well as artistic directors, producers, and directors also pursue separate agendas in shaping the reputations of theatrical works. In The Making of Theatrical Reputations Yael Zarhy-Levo demonstrates the processes through which these mediatory practices by key authority figures situate theatrical companies and playwrights within cultural and historical memory.
To reveal how these authorizing powers-that-be promote theatrical events, companies, and playwrights, Zarhy-Levo presents four detailed case studies that reflect various angles of the modern London theatre. In the case of the English Stage Company's production of John Osborne's Look Back in Anger, she centers on a specific event. She then focuses on the trajectory of a single company, the Theatre Workshop, particularly through its first decade at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East, London. Next, she explores the career of the dramatist John Arden, especially its first ten years, in part drawing upon an interview with Arden and his wife, actress and playwright Margaretta D'Arcy, before turning to her fourth study: the playwright Harold Pinter's shifting reputation throughout the different phases of his career.
Zarhy-Levo's accounts of these theatrical events, companies, and playwrights through the prism of mediation bring fresh insights to these landmark productions and their creators.
The Media Players: Shakespeare, Middleton, Jonson, and the Idea of News builds a case for the central, formative function of Shakespeare’s theater in the news culture of early modern England. In an analysis that combines historical research with recent developments in public sphere theory, Dr. Stephen Wittek argues that the unique discursive space created by commercial theater helped to foster the conceptual framework that made news possible.
Dr. Wittek’s analysis focuses on the years between 1590 and 1630, an era of extraordinary advances in English news culture that begins with the first instance of serialized news in England and ends with the emergence of news as a regular, permanent fixture of the marketplace. Notably, this period of expansion in news culture coincided with a correspondingly extraordinary era of theatrical production and innovation, an era that marks the beginning of commercial theater in London, and has left us with the plays of William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, and Thomas Middleton.
Marcie Frank’s study traces the migration of tragicomedy, the comedy of manners, and melodrama from the stage to the novel, offering a dramatic new approach to the history of the English novel that examines how the collaboration of genres contributed to the novel’s narrative form and to the modern organization of literature. Drawing on media theory and focusing on the less-examined narrative contributions of such authors as Aphra Behn, Frances Burney, and Elizabeth Inchbald, alongside those of Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding, and Jane Austen, The Novel Stage tells the story of the novel as it was shaped by the stage.
Published by Bucknell University Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.
In Performing Identities on the Restoration Stage, Cynthia Lowenthal explores identity—especially masculinity and femininity, English and “foreign,” middle-class and aristocratic—as it is enacted, idealized, deployed, and redefined on the late-seventeenth-century British stage. Particular emphasis is placed on the ways the theatre contributed to new and often shifting early modern definitions of the boundaries of nation, status, and gender.
The first portion of the book focuses on the playwrights’ presentations of idealized men and the comic ridicule of male bodies and behaviors that fall short of the ideal. Of special interest are those moments when playwrights use stereotypes of national character, particularly the Spaniards and Turks, as examples of the worst in male behavior, judgments that are always inflected with elements of class or status inconsistency.
The second portion of Lowenthal’s discussion focuses on playwrights’ attempts to redefine the idealized woman. Lowenthal investigates the ways that an extratheatrical discourse surrounding the actresses, one that essentialized them as sexual bodies demanding scrutiny and requiring containment, also serves to secure for them an equally essential aristocratic status. Anchored by Manley’s Royal Mischief, Lowenthal’s reading reveals that even a woman playwright’s attempts to represent female subjectivity or interiority at odds with the surfaces of the body are doomed to return to those same surfaces.
By focusing on a new, early modern lability of identity and by reading less canonical women playwrights, such as Manley and Pix, alongside established male playwrights such as Dryden and Wycherley, Performing Identities on the Restoration Stage yields both a more accurate and a more compelling picture of the cultural dynamics at work on the early modern stage.
The theater of early modern England was a disastrous affair. The scant record of its performance demonstrates as much, for what we tend to remember today of the Shakespearean stage and its history are landmark moments of dissolution: the burning down of the Globe, the forced closure of playhouses during outbreaks of the plague, and the abolition of the theater by its Cromwellian opponents.
Persecution, Plague, and Fire is a study of these catastrophes and the theory of performance they convey. Ellen MacKay argues that the various disasters that afflicted the English theater during its golden age were no accident but the promised end of a practice built on disappearance and erasure—a kind of fatal performance that left nothing behind but its self-effacing poetics. Bringing together dramatic theory, performance studies, and theatrical, religious, and cultural history, MacKay reveals the period’s radical take on the history and the future of the stage to show just how critical the relation was between early modern English theater and its public.
In this richly textured multidisciplinary work, Steven Mullaney examines the cultural situation of popular drama in Elizabethan and Jacobean England. Relying upon a dynamic model of cultural production, Mullaney defines an original and historically grounded perspective on the emergence of popular theater and illustrates the critical, revisionary role it played in the symbolic economy of Renaissance England.
Combining literary, historical, and broadly conceived cultural analysis, he investigates, among other topics, the period's exhaustive "rehearsal" of other cultures and its discomfiting apprehensions of the self; the politics of vanished forums for ideological production such as the wonder-cabinet and the leprosarium; the cultural poetics of royal entries; and the incontinent, uncanny language of treason. As Mullaney demonstrates, Shakespearean drama relied upon and embodied the marginal license of the popular stage and, as a result, provides us with powerful readings of the shifting bases of power, license, and theatricality in Elizabethan and Jacobean England.
"A major study, not merely of selected Shakespearean plays but of the very conditions of the possibility of Renaissance drama." --Louis Montrose, University of California, San Diego
"Mullaney's rich and engaged reading of the place of Shakespeare's stage represents the texture of early modern life and its cultural productions in the vivid tradition of annales history and brilliantly exemplifies his theoretical call for a poetics of culture." -- Shakespeare Quarterly
"Mullaney marshals an impressive range of cultural representations which, taken together, will undoubtedly force a reconsideration of the semiotics of the Elizabethan stage." --Times Higher Education Supplement
". . . something of a dramatic feat in cultural studies: literary critic Mullaney calls in a cast ranging from Clifford Geertz and Pierre Bourdieu to Raymond Williams, Mary Douglas, and Michel Foucault." --Contemporary Sociology
Steven Mullaney is Associate Professor of English at the University of Michigan.
A unique methodology for plot analysis focusing on an important body of English Renaissance dramas.
"Lucid, rich, and consistently thought-provoking This book marks a decisive advance in formal plot analysis." Poetics Today
Amid the crowded streets of Chester, guild players portraying biblical characters performed on colorful mobile stages hoping to draw the attention of fellow townspeople. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, these Chester plays employed flamboyant live performance to adapt biblical narratives. But the original format of these fascinating performances remains cloudy, as surviving records of these plays are sparse, and the manuscripts were only written down a generation after they stopped. Revealing a vibrant set of social practices encoded in the Chester plays, Matthew Sergi provides a new methodology for reading them and a transformative look at medieval English drama.
Carefully combing through the plays, Sergi seeks out cues in the dialogues that reveal information about the original staging, design, and acting. These “practical cues,” as he calls them, have gone largely unnoticed by drama scholars, who have focused on the ideology and historical contexts of these plays, rather than the methods, mechanics, and structures of the actual performances. Drawing on his experience as an actor and director, he combines close readings of these texts with fragments of records, revealing a new way to understand how the Chester plays brought biblical narratives to spectators in the noisy streets. For Sergi, plays that once appeared only as dry religious dramas come to life as raucous participatory spectacles filled with humor, camp, and devotion.
When it was first published, Radical Tragedy was hailed as a groundbreaking reassessment of the drama of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. An engaged reading of the past with compelling contemporary significance, Radical Tragedy remains a landmark study of Renaissance drama. The third edition of this critically acclaimed work includes a new foreword by Terry Eagleton and an extensive new introduction by the author.
Renaissance Drama, an annual interdisciplinary publication, is devoted to drama and performance as a central feature of Renaissance culture. The essays in each volume explore the traditional canon of drama, the significance of performance, broadly construed, to early modern culture, and the impact of new forms of interpretation on the study of Renaissance plays, theater, and performance.
Volume 38 includes essays that explore topics in early modern drama ranging from Shakespeare’s Jewish questions in The Merchant of Venice and the gender of rhetoric in Shakespeare’s sonnets and Jonson’s plays to improvisation in the commedia dell’arte and the rebirth of tragedy in 1940 Germany.
Renaissance Revivals examines patterns in the London revivals of two English Renaissance theatre genres over the past four centuries. Griswold's focus on revenge tragedies and city comedies illuminates the ongoing interaction between society and its cultural products. No cultural object is ever created anew, she argues, but is instead constructed from existing cultural genres and conventions, the visions and professional needs of the artist, and the interests of an audience. Thus, every "new play" is in part a renaissance and every "revival" is in part an entirely new cultural object.
Offering a unique historical perspective to the study of medieval English drama, Heather Hill-Vásquez in Sacred Players argues that different treatments of audience and performance in the early drama indicate that the performance life of the drama may have continued well beyond its traditional placement in medieval history and into the Reformation and Renaissance eras.
The Gothic drama came at a critical moment in the history of the theater, of British culture, and of European politics in the shadow of France’s revolution and the fall of Napoleon. It offered playwrights a medium to express the prevailing ideological tensions of romanticism and revolution, and also responded to a growing and changing theater audience.
In a wide-ranging introduction, Cox explores Gothic drama’s links with romanticism and its relation to other social and ideological shifts of the day. The texts are presented so as to reflect the dual life of dramatic works—on the stage and on the page. The plays are annotated and accompanied by biographic and bibliographic sketches.
Includes The Kentish Barons, by Francis North; Julia of Louvain; or, Monkish Cruelty, by J.C. Cross; The Castle Spectre, by Matthew G. Lewis; The Captive, by Matthew G. Lewis; De Monfort, by Joanna Baillie; Bertram; or, The Castle of St. Aldobrand, by C.R. Maturin; and Presumption; or, The Fate of Frankenstein, by R.B. Peake.
What is sex exactly? Does everyone agree on a definition? And does that definition hold when considering literary production in other times and places? Sex before Sex makes clear that we cannot simply transfer our contemporary notions of what constitutes a sex act into the past and expect them to be true for the people who were then reading literature and watching plays. The contributors confront how our current critical assumptions about definitions of sex restrict our understanding of representations of sexuality in early modern England.
Drawing attention to overlooked forms of sexual activity in early modern culture, from anilingus and interspecies sex to “chin-chucking” and convivial drinking, Sex before Sex offers a multifaceted view of what sex looked like before the term entered history. Through incisive interpretations of a wide range of literary texts, including Romeo and Juliet, The Comedy of Errors, Paradise Lost, the figure of Lucretia, and pornographic poetry, this collection queries what might constitute sex in the absence of a widely accepted definition and how a historicized concept of sex affects the kinds of arguments that can be made about early modern sexualities.
Contributors: Holly Dugan, George Washington U; Will Fisher, CUNY–Lehman College; Stephen Guy-Bray, U of British Columbia; Melissa J. Jones, Eastern Michigan U; Thomas H. Luxon, Dartmouth College; Nicholas F. Radel, Furman U; Kathryn Schwarz, Vanderbilt U; Christine Varnado, U of Buffalo–SUNY.
Rated ‘Outstanding’ in the 2004 edition of University Press Books Selected for Public and Secondary School Libraries
Samuel Crowl's Shakespeare at the Cineplex: The Kenneth Branagh Era is the first thorough exploration of the fifteen major Shakespeare films released since the surprising success of Kenneth Branagh's Henry V (1989). Crowl presents the rich variety of these films in the “long decade: between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.” The productions range from Hollywood-saturated films such as Franco Zeffirelli's Hamlet and Michael Hoffman's A Midsummer Night's Dream to more modest, experimental offerings, such as Christine Edzard's As You Like It.
Now available in paperback, Shakespeare at the Cineplex will be welcome reading for fans, students, and scholars of Shakespeare in performance.
Jeffrey Knapp University of Chicago Press, 2009 Library of Congress PR2937.K59 2009 | Dewey Decimal 822.33
Three decades of controversy in Shakespeare studies can be summed up in a single question: Was Shakespeare one of a kind? On one side of the debate are the Shakespeare lovers, the bardolatrists, who insist on Shakespeare’s timeless preeminence as an author. On the other side are the theater historians who view modern claims of Shakespeare’s uniqueness as a distortion of his real professional life.
In Shakespeare Only, Knapp draws on an extraordinary array of historical evidence to reconstruct Shakespeare’s authorial identity as Shakespeare and his contemporaries actually understood it. He argues that Shakespeare tried to adapt his own singular talent and ambition to the collaborative enterprise of drama by imagining himself as uniquely embodying the diverse, fractious energies of the popular theater. Rewriting our current histories of authorship as well as Renaissance drama, Shakespeare Only recaptures a sense of the creative force that mass entertainment exerted on Shakespeare and that Shakespeare exerted on mass entertainment.
Stuart Elden University of Chicago Press, 2018 Library of Congress PR3014.E48 2018 | Dewey Decimal 822.33
Shakespeare was an astute observer of contemporary life, culture, and politics. The emerging practice of territory as a political concept and technology did not elude his attention. In Shakespearean Territories, Stuart Elden reveals just how much Shakespeare’s unique historical position and political understanding can teach us about territory. Shakespeare dramatized a world of technological advances in measuring, navigation, cartography, and surveying, and his plays open up important ways of thinking about strategy, economy, the law, and colonialism, providing critical insight into a significant juncture in history. Shakespeare’s plays explore many territorial themes: from the division of the kingdom in King Lear, to the relations among Denmark, Norway, and Poland in Hamlet, to questions of disputed land and the politics of banishment in Richard II. Elden traces how Shakespeare developed a nuanced understanding of the complicated concept and practice of territory and, more broadly, the political-geographical relations between people, power, and place. A meticulously researched study of over a dozen classic plays, Shakespearean Territories will provide new insights for geographers, political theorists, and Shakespearean scholars alike.
What does it mean to have an emotional response to poetry and music? And, just as important but considered less often, what does it mean not to have such a response? What happens when lyric utterances—which should invite consolation, revelation, and connection—somehow fall short of the listener’s expectations?
As Seth Lerer shows in this pioneering book, Shakespeare’s late plays invite us to contemplate that very question, offering up lyric as a displaced and sometimes desperate antidote to situations of duress or powerlessness. Lerer argues that the theme of lyric misalignment running throughout The Tempest, The Winter’s Tale, Henry VIII, and Cymbeline serves a political purpose, a last-ditch effort at transformation for characters and audiences who had lived through witch-hunting, plague, regime change, political conspiracies, and public executions.
A deep dive into the relationship between aesthetics and politics, this book also explores what Shakespearean lyric is able to recuperate for these “victims of history” by virtue of its disjointed utterances. To this end, Lerer establishes the concept of mythic lyricism: an estranging use of songs and poetry that functions to recreate the past as present, to empower the mythic dead, and to restore a bit of magic to the commonplaces and commodities of Jacobean England. Reading against the devotion to form and prosody common in Shakespeare scholarship, Lerer’s account of lyric utterance’s vexed role in his late works offers new ways to understand generational distance and cultural change throughout the playwright’s oeuvre.
For more than forty years, Paul Cantor’s Shakespeare’s Rome has been a foundational work in the field of politics and literature. While many critics assumed that the Roman plays do not reflect any special knowledge of Rome, Cantor was one of the first to argue that they are grounded in a profound understanding of the Roman regime and its changes over time. Taking Shakespeare seriously as a political thinker, Cantor suggests that his Roman plays can be profitably studied in the context of the classical republican tradition in political philosophy.
In Shakespeare’s Rome, Cantor examines the political settings of Shakespeare’s Roman plays, Coriolanus and Antony and Cleopatra, with references as well to Julius Caesar. Cantor shows that Shakespeare presents a convincing portrait of Rome in different eras of its history, contrasting the austere republic of Coriolanus, with its narrow horizons and martial virtues, and the cosmopolitan empire of Antony and Cleopatra, with its “immortal longings” and sophistication bordering on decadence.
Most contemporary critics characterize Shakespeare and his tribe of fellow playwrights and players as resolutely secular, interested in religion only as a matter of politics or as a rival source of popular entertainment. Yet as Jeffrey Knapp demonstrates in this radical new reading, a surprising number of writers throughout the English Renaissance, including Shakespeare himself, represented plays as supporting the cause of true religion.
To be sure, Renaissance playwrights rarely sermonized in their plays, which seemed preoccupied with sex, violence, and crime. During a time when acting was regarded as a kind of vice, many theater professionals used their apparent godlessness to advantage, claiming that it enabled them to save wayward souls the church could not otherwise reach. The stage, they argued, made possible an ecumenical ministry, which would help transform Reformation England into a more inclusive Christian society.
Drawing on a variety of little-known as well as celebrated plays, along with a host of other documents from the English Renaissance, Shakespeare's Tribe changes the way we think about Shakespeare and the culture that produced him.
Winner of the Best Book in Literature and Language from the Association of American Publishers' Professional/Scholarly division, the Conference on Christianity and Literature Book Award, and the Roland H. Bainton Prize for Literature from the Sixteenth Century Society and Conference.
In Sight Unseen radio drama, a genre traditionally dismissed as popular culture, is celebrated as high art. The radio plays discussed here range from the conventional (John Arden’s Pearl) to the docudramatic (David Rudkin’s Cries from Casement), from the curtly conversational (Harold Pinter’s A Slight Ache) to the virtually operatic (Robert Ferguson’s Transfigured Night), testifying to radio drama’s variety and literary stature. Two of the plays included in this study pose aesthetic questions—the role of art in politics (Howard Barker’s Scenes from an Execution), and the nature of artistic excellence (Tom Stoppard’s Artist Descending a Staircase).
Guralnick contends that well-crafted radio plays tend to meld to their medium so naturally that they cannot be transferred to the theater or to film without being diminished. Each play is thus shown to exploit, to special effect, one of radio’s fundamental features: its invisible stage (Barker and Stoppard), its affinity to music (Ferguson and Beckett), its ability to imitate the mind’s subjectivity (Kopit and Pinter), its association with world events through features and the news (Rudkin). As for the question of radio’s relation to the theater, the issue is engaged in the work of John Arden, who dares to portray a theatrical stage on the airwaves, while intimating that the radio offers contemporary playwrights an incomparable boon: creative conditions roughly equivalent to those enjoyed by Shakespeare.
In Signifying God, Sarah Beckwith explores the most lavish, long-lasting, and complex form of collective theatrical enterprise in English history: the York Corpus Christi plays. First staged as early as 1376, the plays were performed annually until the late 1500s and involved as much as a tenth of the city in multiple performances at a dozen or more locations.
Introducing a radical new understanding of these plays as "sacramental theater," Beckwith shows how organizing the plays served as a political mechanism for regulating labor, and how theater and sacrament combined in them to do important theological work. She argues, for instance, that the theology of Corpus Christi in the resurrection plays can only be understood as a theatrical exploration of eucharistic absence and presence. Beckwith frames her study with discussions of twentieth-century manifestations of sacramental theater in Barry Unsworth's novel Morality Play and Denys Arcand's film Jesus of Montreal, and the connections between contemporary revivals of the York Corpus Christi plays and England's heritage culture.
Site Unscene: The Offstage in English Renaissance Drama explores the key role of dramatic episodes that occur offstage and beyond the knowledge-generating faculty of playgoers’ sight. Does Ophelia drown? Is Desdemona unfaithful to Othello? Does Macbeth murder Duncan in his sleep? Site Unscene considers how the drama’s nonvisible and eccentric elements embellish, alter, and subvert visible action on the stage.
Jonathan Walker demonstrates that by removing scenes from visible performance, playwrights take up the nondramatic mode of storytelling in order to transcend the limits of the stage. Through this technique, they present dramatic action from the subjective, self-interested, and idiosyncratic perspectives of individual characters. By recovering these offstage elements, Walker reveals the pervasive and formative dynamic between the onstage and offstage and between the seen and unseen in Renaissance drama.
Examining premodern dramatic theory, Renaissance plays, period amphitheaters, and material texts, this interdisciplinary work considers woodcuts, engravings, archaeology, architecture, rhetoric, the history of the book, as well as plays by Shakespeare, Marlowe, Kyd, Ford, Middleton, and Webster, among others. It addresses readers engaged in literary criticism, dramatic theory, theater history, and textual studies.
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.
In this interdisciplinary study of drama, arts, and spirituality, Gail Gibson provides a provocative reappraisal of fifteenth-century English theater through a detailed portrait of the flourishing cultures of Suffolk and Norfolk. By emphasizing the importance of the Incarnation of Christ as a model and justification for late medieval drama and art, Gibson challenges currently held views of the secularization of late medieval culture.
The Theatre of the Real: Yeats, Beckett, and Sondheim traces the thread of jouissance (the simultaneous experience of radical pleasure and pain) through three major theatre figures of the twentieth century. Gina Masucci MacKenzie’s work engages theatrical text and performance in dialogue with the Lacanian Real, so as to re-envision modern theatre as the cultural site where author, actor, and audience come into direct contact with personal and collective traumas. By showing how a transgressively free subject may be formed through theatrical experience, MacKenzie concludes that modern theatre can liberate the individual from the socially constructed self.
The Theatre of the Real revises views of modern theatre by demonstrating how it can lead to a collaborative effort required for innovative theatrical work. By foregrounding Yeats’s “dancer” plays, the author shows how these intimate pieces contribute to the historical development of musical as well as modern theatre. Beckett’s universal dramas then pave the way for Sondheim’s postmodern cacophonies of idea and spirit as they introduce comic abjection into modernism’s tragic mode. This exciting work from a new author will leave readers with fresh insight to theatrical performance and its necessity in our lives.
In Violence and Grace, Nichole Miller establishes a conceptual link between early modern English drama and twentieth-century political theology, both of which emerge from the experience of political crisis. Miller’s analyses accordingly undertake to retrieve for political theology the relations between gender, sexuality, and the political aesthetics of violence on the early modern stage, addressing the plays of Marlowe, Middleton, and especially Shakespeare. In doing so, she expands our understanding of drama’s continuing theoretical impact.