Provides a new foundation for discussions about theater, film, and translations between the two mediums.
Adapting Performance Between Stage and Screen provides an introduction to adaptations between theater and film, establishing a framework for considering these as distinct from literary adaptation. The book places emphasis on performance and event, opening new avenues of exploration to include non-literary issues such as the treatment of space and place, mis en scène, acting styles, and star personas. The recent growth of digital theater is examined to foreground the “events” of theater and cinema—largely ignored in adaptation studies—with phenomena such as National Theatre Live analyzed for the different ways that “liveness” is adapted.
Drawing from case studies that explore distinct periods in British film and theater history, the volume looks at issues surrounding theatrical naturalism and cinematic realism and illustrates the principle that adaptations can't be divorced from the historical and cultural moment in which they are produced. Adapting Performance Between Stage and Screen explores how cultural values can be articulated in the act of translating between media, providing a new framework for the discussion of theater and film as dramatic works.
Jonathan Shandell provides the first in-depth study of the historic American Negro Theatre (ANT) and its lasting influence on American popular culture. Founded in 1940 in Harlem, the ANT successfully balanced expressions of African American consciousness with efforts to gain white support for the burgeoning civil rights movement. The theatre company featured innovative productions with emerging artists—Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, Ruby Dee, and many others—who would become giants of stage, film, and television. In 1944, the ANT made theatrical history by creating the smash hit Anna Lucasta, the most popular play with an African American cast ever to perform on Broadway. Starting from a shoestring budget, the ANT grew into one of the most important companies in the history of African American theatre. Though the group folded in 1949, it continued to shape American popular culture through the creative work of its many talented artists.
Examining oral histories, playbills, scripts, production stills, and journalistic accounts, Shandell gives us the most complete picture to date of the theatre company by analyzing well-known productions alongside groundbreaking and now-forgotten efforts. Shedding light on this often-overlooked chapter of African American history, which fell between the New Negro Renaissance and the Black Arts Movement, Shandell reveals how the ANT became a valued community institution for Harlem—an important platform for African American artists to speak to racial issues—and a trailblazer in promoting integration and interracial artistic collaboration in the U.S. In doing so, Shandell also demonstrates how a small amateur ensemble of the 1940s succeeded in challenging, expanding, and transforming how African Americans were portrayed in the ensuing decades. The result is a fascinating and entertaining examination that will be of interest to scholars and students of African American and American studies and theatre history, as well as popular culture enthusiasts.
The rise of celebrity stage actresses in the long eighteenth century created a class of women who worked in the public sphere while facing considerable scrutiny about their offstage lives. Such powerful celebrity women used the cultural and affective significance of their reproductive bodies to leverage audience support and interest to advance their careers, and eighteenth-century London patent theatres even capitalized on their pregnancies. Carrying All Before Her uses the reproductive histories of six celebrity women (Susanna Mountfort Verbruggen, Anne Oldfield, Susannah Cibber, George Anne Bellamy, Sarah Siddons, and Dorothy Jordan) to demonstrate that pregnancy affected celebrity identity, impacted audience reception and interpretation of performance, changed company repertory and altered company hierarchy, influenced the development and performance of new plays, and had substantial economic consequences for both women and the companies for which they worked. Deepening the fields of celebrity, theatre, and women's studies, as well as social and medical histories, Phillips reveals an untapped history whose relevance and impact persists today.
The long seventeenth century in China was a period of tremendous commercial expansion, and no literary genre was better equipped to articulate its possibilities than southern drama. As a form and a practice, southern drama was in the business of world-building—both in its structural imperative to depict and reconcile the social whole and in its creation of entire economies dependent on its publication and performance. However, the early modern commercial world repelled rather than engaged most playwrights, who consigned its totems—the merchant and his money—to the margins as sources of political suspicion and cultural anxiety.In The Cornucopian Stage, Ariel Fox examines a body of influential yet understudied plays by a circle of Suzhou playwrights who enlisted the theatrical imaginary to very different ends. In plays about long-distance traders and small-time peddlers, impossible bargains and broken contracts, strings of cash and storehouses of silver, the Suzhou circle placed commercial forms not only at center stage but at the center of a new world coming into being. Here, Fox argues, the economic character of early modern selfhood is recast as fundamentally productive—as the basis for new subject positions, new kinds of communities, and new modes of art.
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.
The idea that actors are hypocrites and fakes and therefore dangerous to society was widespread in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Fangs of Malice examines the equation between the vice of hypocrisy and the craft of acting as it appears in antitheatrical tracts, in popular and high culture, and especially in plays of the period. Rousseau and others argue that actors, expert at seeming other than they are, pose a threat to society; yet dissembling seems also to be an inevitable consequence of human social intercourse. The “antitheatrical prejudice” offers a unique perspective on the high value that modern western culture places on sincerity, on being true to one's own self.
Taking a cue from the antitheatrical critics themselves, Matthew Wikander structures his book in acts and scenes, each based on a particular slander against actors. A prologue introduces his main issues. Act One deals with the proposition “They Dress Up”: foppish slavery to fashion, cross-dressing, and dressing as clergy. Act Two treats the proposition “They Lie” by focusing on social dissembling and the phenomenon of the self-deceiving hypocrite and the public, princely hypocrite. Act Three, “They Drink,” examines a wide range of antisocial behavior ascribed to actors, such as drinking, gambling, and whoring. An epilogue ties the ancient ideas of possession and the panic that actors inspire to contemporary anxieties about representation not only in theatre but also in the visual and literary arts.
Fangs of Malice will be of great interest to scholars and students of drama as well as to theatre professionals and buffs.
Gaming the Stage also introduces a new archive for game studies: scenes of onstage gaming, which appear at climactic moments in dramatic literature. Bloom reveals plays to be systems of information for theater spectators: games of withholding, divulging, speculating, and wagering on knowledge. Her book breaks new ground through examinations of plays such as The Tempest, Arden of Faversham, A Woman Killed with Kindness, and A Game at Chess; the histories of familiar games such as cards, backgammon, and chess; less familiar ones, like Game of the Goose; and even a mixed-reality theater videogame.
"North Korea is not just a security or human rights problem (although it is those things) but a real society. This book gets us closer to understanding North Korea beyond the usual headlines, and does so in a richly detailed, well-researched, and theoretically contextualized way."
---Charles K. Armstrong, Director, Center for Korean Research, Columbia University
"One of this book's strengths is how it deals at the same time with historical, geographical, political, artistic, and cultural materials. Film and theatre are not the only arts Kim studies---she also offers an excellent analysis of paintings, fashion, and what she calls 'everyday performance.' Her analysis is brilliant, her insights amazing, and her discoveries and conclusions always illuminating."
---Patrice Pavis, University of Kent, Canterbury
No nation stages massive parades and collective performances on the scale of North Korea. Even amid a series of intense political/economic crises and international conflicts, the financially troubled country continues to invest massive amounts of resources to sponsor unflinching displays of patriotism, glorifying its leaders and revolutionary history through state rituals that can involve hundreds of thousands of performers. Author Suk-Young Kim explores how sixty years of state-sponsored propaganda performances---including public spectacles, theater, film, and other visual media such as posters---shape everyday practice such as education, the mobilization of labor, the gendering of social interactions, the organization of national space, tourism, and transnational human rights. Equal parts fascinating and disturbing, Illusive Utopia shows how the country's visual culture and performing arts set the course for the illusionary formation of a distinctive national identity and state legitimacy, illuminating deep-rooted cultural explanations as to why socialism has survived in North Korea despite the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and China's continuing march toward economic prosperity. With over fifty striking color illustrations, Illusive Utopia captures the spectacular illusion within a country where the arts are not only a means of entertainment but also a forceful institution used to regulate, educate, and mobilize the population.
Suk-Young Kim is Associate Professor in the Department of Theater and Dance at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and coauthor with Kim Yong of Long Road Home: A Testimony of a North Korean Camp Survivor.
A little over a century ago, the Irish in America were the targets of intense xenophobic anxiety. Much of that anxiety centered on their mobility, whether that was traveling across the ocean to the U.S., searching for employment in urban centers, mixing with other ethnic groups, or forming communities of their own. Granshaw argues that American variety theatre, a precursor to vaudeville, was a crucial battleground for these anxieties, as it appealed to both the fears and the fantasies that accompanied the rapid economic and social changes of the Gilded Age.
An eclectic mix of art, theatre, dance, politics, experimentation, and ritual,community-based performance has become an increasingly popular art movement in the United States. Forged by the collaborative efforts of professional artists and local residents, this unique field brings performance together with a range of political, cultural, and social projects, such as community-organizing, cultural self-representation, and education. Local Acts presents a long-overdue survey of community-based performance from its early roots, through its flourishing during the politically-turbulent 1960s, to present-day popular culture. Drawing on nine case studies, including groups such as the African American Junebug Productions, the Appalachian Roadside Theater, and the Puerto Rican Teatro Pregones, Jan Cohen-Cruz provides detailed descriptions of performances and processes, first-person stories, and analysis. She shows how the ritual side of these endeavors reinforces a sense of community identification while the aesthetic side enables local residents to transgress cultural norms, to question group habits, and to incorporate a level of craft that makes the work accessible to individuals beyond any one community. The book concludes by exploring how community-based performance transcends even national boundaries, connecting the local United States with international theater and cultural movements.
Contributors. Judith Bettelheim, Sue-Ellen Case, Juan Flores, Jean Franco, Donald H. Frischmann, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Jorge Huerta, Tiffany Ana López, Jacqueline Lazú, María Teresa Marrero, Cherríe Moraga, Kirsten F. Nigro, Patrick O’Connor, Jorge Salessi, Alberto Sandoval, Cynthia Steele, Diana Taylor, Juan Villegas, Marguerite Waller
"No Safe Spaces opens up a conversation beyond narrow polemics . . . Although cross-racial casting has been the topic of heated discussion, little sustained scholarship addresses both the historical precedents and theoretical dimensions. Pao illustrates the tensions and contradictions inherent not only in stage representations, but also in the performance of race in everyday life. A wonderful book whose potential readership goes well beyond theater and performance scholars."
---Josephine Lee, University of Minnesota
"Non-traditional casting, increasingly practiced in American theater, is both deeply connected to our country's racial self-image(s) and woefully under-theorized. Pao takes on the practice in its entirety to disentangle the various strands of this vitally important issue."
---Karen Shimakawa, New York University
No Safe Spaces looks at one of the most radical and enduring changes introduced during the Civil Rights era---multiracial and cross-racial casting practices in American theater. The move to cast Latino/a, African American, and Asian American actors in classic stage works by and about white Europeans and Americans is viewed as both social and political gesture and artistic innovation. Nontraditionally cast productions are shown to have participated in the national dialogue about race relations and ethnic identity and served as a source of renewed creativity for the staging of the canonical repertory.
Multiracial casting is explored first through its history, then through its artistic, political, and pragmatic dimensions. Next, the book focuses on case studies from the dominant genres of contemporary American theater: classical tragedy and comedy, modern domestic drama, antirealist drama, and the Broadway musical, using a broad array of archival source materials to enhance and illuminate its arguments.
Angela C. Pao is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at Indiana University.
A volume in the series Theater: Theory/Text/Performance
Taking a cue from influential French philosopher Jacques Rancière, who in The Emancipated Spectator rejects the idea of the passive, ignorant, duped spectators in need of instruction to become active, Stuart A. Day’s goal in Outside Theater is to highlight written words and performances that exemplify effective strategies, past and present, to reveal and promote civic engagement, to provoke disruptions, or to highlight fissures—and opportunities—in oppressive social structures.
Through the study of one or two primary models per chapter, as well as multiple examples in the introduction and conclusion, Day presents Mexican plays from 1905 to 2015, including the 2010 Mexico City performance of Zoot Suit by Chicano playwright Luis Valdez. Using these plays, Day explores the concept of “outside theater,” where people or groups translate the tools of the theatrical trade to a different stage, outside the walls of the theater, and play the part of fictional or real life Celestinas—matchmakers who unite seemingly disparate entities to promote social awareness and social action by working the borders between life and art.
Each work in this innovative analysis reveals productive social connections that, with the help of crucial artistic alliances, contradict the perception that art is somehow secondary to or disconnected from the public sphere of influence and the struggles of everyday life. With this book, Day shows that Mexican theater can and does bolster civil society and thus the country’s fragile democracy.
Passionate Amateurs tells a new story about modern theater: the story of a romantic attachment to theater’s potential to produce surprising experiences of human community. It begins with one of the first great plays of modern European theater—Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya in Moscow—and then crosses the 20th and 21st centuries to look at how its story plays out in Weimar Republic Berlin, in the Paris of the 1960s, and in a spectrum of contemporary performance in Europe and the United States. This is a work of historical materialist theater scholarship, which combines a materialism grounded in a socialist tradition of cultural studies with some of the insights developed in recent years by theorists of affect, and addresses some fundamental questions about the social function and political potential of theater within modern capitalism. Passionate Amateurs argues that theater in modern capitalism can help us think afresh about notions of work, time, and freedom. Its title concept is a theoretical and historical figure, someone whose work in theater is undertaken within capitalism, but motivated by a love that desires something different. In addition to its theoretical originality, it offers a significant new reading of a major Chekhov play, the most sustained scholarly engagement to date with Benjamin’s “Program for a Proletarian Children’s Theatre,” the first major consideration of Godard’s La chinoise as a “theatrical” work, and the first chapter-length discussion of the work of The Nature Theatre of Oklahoma, an American company rapidly gaining a profile in the European theater scene.
Passionate Amateurs contributes to the development of theater and performance studies in a way that moves beyond debates over the differences between theater and performance in order to tell a powerful, historically grounded story about what theater and performance are for in the modern world.
In Performing Loss: Rebuilding Community through Theater and Writing, author Jodi Kanter explores opportunities for creativity and growth within our collective responses to grief. Performing Loss provides teachers, students, and others interested in performance with strategies for reading, writing, and performing loss as communities—in the classroom, the theater, and the wider public sphere.
From an adaptation of Jose Saramago’s novel Blindness to a reading of Suzan-Lori Parks’s The America Play, from Kanter’s own experience creating theater with terminally ill patients and federal prisoners to a visual artist’s response to September 11th, Kanter shows in practical, replicable detail how performing loss with community members can transform experiences of isolation and paralysis into experiences of solidarity and action.
Drawing on academic work in performance, cultural studies, literature, sociology, and anthropology, Kanter considers a range of responses to grief in historical context and goes on to imagine newer, more collaborative, and more civically engaged responses. Performing Loss describes Kanter’s pedagogical and artistic processes in lively and vivid detail, enabling the reader to use her projects as models or to adapt the techniques to new communities, venues, and purposes. Kanter demonstrates through each example the ways in which writing and performing can create new possibilities for mourning and living together.
From the turn of the century until 1923, the year of the National Socialist putsch, popular entertainment in Munich reflected the sentiments and ideas of its largely middle-class audience. While industrialization, rapid urbanization, World War I, and the German Revolution of 1918–19 created an atmosphere of turbulent change, performances on Munich's popular stages gave voice to the continuity of several basic attitudes: patriotism; nostalgia for a preindustrial, rural community; hostility toward Jews; and increasing anxiety over social status. In songs, monologues, skits, and one-act plays, popular entertainers articulated views common to Munich's traditional middle class of tradesmen and shopkeepers and its “new” or white-collar middle class of clerks and minor officials. Folksingers Karl Valentin and Weiss Ferdl serve as examples of this relationship between politics and culture. They shared their audience's class background and sympathies, and in the cabarets and music halls their songs dealt with vexed social and political issues.This intriguing book in cultural history adds to our understanding of social conditions preparing the way for political change. A model case study, it explores the roots of Nazism in a large urban setting.
Many professional theater artists attempt to use live performances in formal theater spaces to disrupt racism and create a more equitable society. Privileged Spectatorship: Theatrical Interventions in White Supremacy examines the impact of such projects, looking at how and why they do and do not intervene in white supremacy. In this incisive study, Dani Snyder-Young examines audience responses to a range of theatrical events that focus on race‑related conflict or racial identity in the contemporary United States. The audiences for these performances, produced at mainstream not‑for‑profit professional theaters in major American cities in 2013–18, reflect dominant patterns of theater attendance: the majority of spectators are older, affluent, white, and describe themselves as politically progressive. Snyder-Young studies the ways these audience members consume the stories of racialized others and analyzes how different artistic, organizational, and programmatic strategies can (or cannot) mitigate white privilege.
This book is essential reading for scholars and students of theater, performance studies, and critical ethnic studies and for theater practitioners interested in equity and inclusion.
How, why, and according to whose definitions and requirements does a culture self-consciously create memory and project its fate? In this remarkable book—the first in English to treat Russian history as theatre and cultural performance—Spencer Golub reveals the performative nature of Russian history in the twentieth century and the romantic imprisonment/self-imprisonment of the creative intelligentsia within this scenario.
In this ambitious project, historian Katrina Thompson examines the conceptualization and staging of race through the performance, sometimes coerced, of black dance from the slave ship to the minstrel stage. Drawing on a rich variety of sources, Thompson explicates how black musical performance was used by white Europeans and Americans to justify enslavement, perpetuate the existing racial hierarchy, and mask the brutality of the domestic slave trade. Whether on slave ships, at the auction block, or on plantations, whites often used coerced performances to oppress and demean the enslaved.
As Thompson shows, however, blacks' "backstage" use of musical performance often served quite a different purpose. Through creolization and other means, enslaved people preserved some native musical and dance traditions and invented or adopted new traditions that built community and even aided rebellion.
Thompson shows how these traditions evolved into nineteenth-century minstrelsy and, ultimately, raises the question of whether today's mass media performances and depictions of African Americans are so very far removed from their troublesome roots.
Originally published in 2003 in Portuguese, The Sorcery of Color argues that there are longstanding and deeply-rooted relationships between racial and gender inequalities in Brazil. In this pioneering book, Elisa Larkin Nascimento examines the social and cultural movements that have attempted, since the early twentieth century, to challenge and eradicate these conjoined inequalities.
The book's title describes the social sleight-of-hand that disguises the realities of Brazilian racial inequity. According to Nascimento, anyone who speaks of racism—or merely refers to another person as black—traditionally is seen as racist. The only acceptably non-racist attitude is silence. At the same time, Afro-Brazilian culture and history have been so overshadowed by the idea of a general "Brazilian identity" that to call attention to them is also to risk being labeled racist.
Incorporating leading international scholarship on Pan Africanism and Afrocentric philosophy with the writing of Brazilian scholars, Nascimento presents a compelling feminist argument against the prevailing policy that denies the importance of race in favor of a purposefully vague concept of ethnicity confused with color.
In the nineteenth century, long before film and television brought us explosions, car chases, and narrow escapes, it was America's theaters that thrilled audiences, with “sensation scenes” of speeding trains, burning buildings, and endangered bodies, often in melodramas extolling the virtues of temperance, abolition, and women's suffrage. Amy E. Hughes scrutinizes these peculiar intersections of spectacle and reform, revealing the crucial role that spectacle has played in American activism and how it has remained central to the dramaturgy of reform.
Hughes traces the cultural history of three famous sensation scenes—the drunkard with the delirium tremens, the fugitive slave escaping over a river, and the victim tied to the railroad tracks—assessing how these scenes conveyed, allayed, and denied concerns about the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. These images also appeared in printed propaganda, suggesting that the coup de théâtre was an essential part of American reform culture. Additionally, Hughes argues that today’s producers and advertisers continue to exploit the affective dynamism of spectacle, reaching an even broader audience through film, television, and the Internet.
To be attuned to the dynamics of spectacle, Hughes argues, is to understand how we see. Her book will interest not only theater historians, but also scholars and students of political, literary, and visual culture who are curious about how U.S. citizens saw themselves and their world during a pivotal period in American history.
A revealing foray into a lost time, Starring Women returns a generation of performers to their central place in the early history of American theater.
Greek drama has been subject to ongoing textual and historical interpretation, but surprisingly little scholarship has examined the people who composed the theater audiences in Athens. Typically, scholars have presupposed an audience of Athenian male citizens viewing dramas created exclusively for themselves—a model that reduces theater to little more than a medium for propaganda. Women's theater attendance remains controversial, and little attention has been paid to the social class and ethnicity of the spectators. Whose theater was it?
Producing the first book-length work on the subject, David Kawalko Roselli draws on archaeological and epigraphic evidence, economic and social history, performance studies, and ancient stories about the theater to offer a wide-ranging study that addresses the contested authority of audiences and their historical constitution. Space, money, the rise of the theater industry, and broader social forces emerge as key factors in this analysis. In repopulating audiences with foreigners, slaves, women, and the poor, this book challenges the basis of orthodox interpretations of Greek drama and places the politically and socially marginal at the heart of the theater. Featuring an analysis of the audiences of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, and Menander, Theater of the People brings to life perhaps the most powerful influence on the most prominent dramatic poets of their day.
Taking to heart Thomas Heywood’s claim that plays “persuade men to humanity and good life, instruct them in civility and good manners, showing them the fruits of honesty, and the end of villainy,” Mark Bayer’s captivating new study argues that the early modern London theatre was an important community institution whose influence extended far beyond its economic, religious, educational, and entertainment contributions. Bayer concentrates not on the theatres where Shakespeare’s plays were performed but on two important amphitheatres, the Fortune and the Red Bull, that offer a more nuanced picture of the Jacobean playgoing industry. By looking at these playhouses, the plays they staged, their audiences, and the communities they served, he explores the local dimensions of playgoing.
Taken together, these twelve essays represent a wide range of scholarly responses to the theme of “theatre and race.” The fact that there is so much to say on the topic, from so many different perspectives, is a sign of how profoundly theatre practices have been—and continue to be—shaped by racial discourses and their material manifestations.
A certain idea of the avant-garde posits the possibility of a total rupture with the past. The Unfinished Art of Theater pulls back on this futuristic impulse by showing how theater became a key site for artists on the semiperiphery of capitalism to reconfigure the role of the aesthetic between 1917 and 1934. The book argues that this “unfinished art”—precisely because of its historic weakness as a representative institution in Mexico and Brazil, where the bourgeois stage had not (yet) coalesced—was at the forefront of struggles to redefine the relationship between art and social change.
Drawing on extensive archival research, Sarah J. Townsend reveals the importance of projects and texts that belie the rhetoric of rupture and immediacy associated with the avant-garde: ethnographic operas with ties to the recording industry, populist puppet plays, children’s radio programs about the wonders of technology, a philosophical drama about the birth of a new race, and an antifascist spectacle written for (but never performed at) a theater shut down by the police. Ultimately, the book makes the case that the very category of avant-garde art is bound up in the experience of dependency, delay, and the uneven development of capitalism.
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