Despite its importance to literary and cultural texts of resistance, theater has been largely overlooked as a field of analysis in colonial and postcolonial studies. Acts of Authority/Acts of Resistance seeks to address that absence, as it uniquely views drama and performance as central to the practice of nationalism and anti-colonial resistance.
Nandi Bhatia argues that Indian theater was a significant force in the struggle against oppressive colonial and postcolonial structures, as it sought to undo various schemes of political and cultural power through its engagement with subjects derived from mythology, history, and available colonial models such as Shakespeare. Bhatia's attention to local histories within a postcolonial framework places performance in a global and transcultural context. Drawing connections between art and politics, between performance and everyday experience, Bhatia shows how performance often intervened in political debates and even changed the course of politics.
One of the first Western studies of Indian theater to link the aesthetics and the politics of that theater, Acts of Authority/Acts of Resistance combines in-depth archival research with close readings of dramatic texts performed at critical moments in history. Each chapter amplifies its themes against the backdrop of specific social conditions as it examines particular dramatic productions, from The Indigo Mirror to adaptations of Shakespeare plays by Indian theater companies, illustrating the role of theater in bringing nationalist, anticolonial, and gendered struggles into the public sphere.
Nandi Bhatia is Associate Professor of English at the University of Western Ontario.
“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.
Daughters of Eve
Lenard R. BERLANSTEIN Harvard University Press, 2001 Library of Congress PN2622.W65B47 2001 | Dewey Decimal 792.028082094409
Famous and seductive, female stage performers haunted French public life in the century before and after the Revolution. This pathbreaking study delineates the distinctive place of actresses, dancers, and singers within the French erotic and political imaginations. From the moment they became an unofficial caste of mistresses to France's elite during the reign of Louis XIV, their image fluctuated between emasculating men and delighting them.
Drawing upon newspaper accounts, society columns, theater criticism, government reports, autobiographies, public rituals, and a huge corpus of fiction, Lenard Berlanstein argues that the public image of actresses was shaped by the political climate and ruling ideology; thus they were deified in one era and damned in the next. Tolerated when civil society functioned and demonized when it faltered, they finally passed from notoriety to celebrity with the stabilization of parliamentary life after 1880. Only then could female fans admire them openly, and could the state officially recognize their contributions to national life.
Daughters of Eve is a provocative look at how a culture creates social perceptions and reshuffles collective identities in response to political change.
Table of Contents:
1 Setting the Scene 2 Theater Women and Aristocratic Libertinism, 1715-1789 3 Defining the Modern Gender Order, 1760-1815 4 Magdalenes of Postaristocratic France, 1815-1848 5 The Erotic Culture of the Stage 6 The Struggle against Pornocracy, 1848-1880 7 Imagining Republican Actresses, 1880-1914 8 Performing a Self 9 From Notorious Women to Intimate Strangers
Conclusion Notes Index
Reviews of this book: Students of French literature and culture will welcome this study of female performers, women who historically achieved great prominence because of their sexuality and public presence. Yet this is much more than simply a descriptive history. Berlanstein...puts theater women into the context of the evolving French debate over the role of women in the public sphere...This fascinating new work is an important addition to the scholarship on French gender history. Recommended for specialists in French history and culture. --Library Journal
The work of Maria Irene Fornes, author of such acclaimed plays as Fefu and Her Friends, Mud, and The Conduct of Life, has for over three decades earned the attention of theater-goers, scholars and critics. She has won eight Obie awards, has provoked considerable controversy, and has consistently challenged and delighted the reader and spectator with her idiosyncratic voice and her serious and yet profoundly playful approach to the theater and to the issues of humanity, gender politics, and art.
Diane Lynn Moroff focuses on Fornes's major plays, providing illuminating readings of her unique and irreverent body of work. The book traces the career of this influential playwright, director, and teacher, including the reception of her plays, the range of critical responses (particularly those of feminist critics), and an introduction to Fornes's theatrical philosophies. It looks at such critical issues in Fornes's work as the representation of female subjectivity, theater as metaphor and context, art as ritual, and the role of the spectator. In a final chapter, Fornes's plays including Abingdon Square and her most recent work, What of the Night? are examined in the context of the sexualization of character, an ongoing theme for Fornes.
Fornes: Theater in the Present Tense will appeal to scholars and students in theater studies and women's studies and to anyone interested or engaged in contemporary theater.
Diane Lynn Moroff is Assistant Professor of English, Oglethorpe University.
Scholars increasingly view the arts, creativity, and the creative economy as engines for regenerating global citizenship, renewing decayed local economies, and nurturing a new type of all-inclusive politics. Dia Da Costa delves into these ideas with a critical ethnography of two activist performance groups in India: the Communist-affiliated Jana Natya Manch, and Bhutan Theatre, a community-based group of the indigenous Chhara people. As Da Costa shows, commodification, heritage, and management discussions inevitably creep into performance. Yet the ability of performance to undermine such subtle invasions make street theater a crucial site for considering what counts as creativity in the cultural politics of creative economy. Da Costa explores the precarious lives, livelihoods, and ideologies at the intersection of heritage projects, planning discourse, and activist performance. By analyzing the creators, performers, and activists involved--individuals at the margins of creative economy as well as society--Da Costa builds a provocative argument. Their creative economy practices may survive, challenge, and even reinforce the economies of death, displacement, and divisiveness used by the urban poor to survive.
Latina theater and solo performance emerged in the 1990s as vibrant, energetic new genres found on stages from New York to Los Angeles. Many women now work in all aspects of Latina theater—often as playwrights or solo performers—with practitioners ranging from teenagers to grandmothers. Alberto Sandoval-Sánchez and Nancy Saporta Sternbach have previously published a groundbreaking anthology of Latina theater, Puro Teatro. They now offer a critical analysis of theatrical works, presenting a theoretical perspective from which to examine, understand, and contextualize Latina theater as a genre in its own right. This is the first in-depth study of the entire corpus of Latina theater, based on close readings of works both published and in manuscript. It considers a large body of productions and performances, including works by such internationally known authors as Dolores Prida, Cherríe Moraga, and Janis Astor del Valle. Applying feminist and postcolonial theory as well as theories of transculturation, Sandoval-Sánchez and Sternbach show how, despite cultural differences among Latinas, their works share a common poetics by building upon the politics of representation, identity, and location. In addition to covering theater, this study also shows that solo performance has its own history, properties, structure, and poetics. It examines performances of Carmelita Tropicana, Monica Palacios, and Marga Gomez—artists whose hybrid identities as Latina lesbians constitute living examples of transculturation in the making—to show how solo performance has roots in and digresses from more traditional modes of theater. With their Latina heritage as a unifying link, these women reflect common traits, patterns, dramatic structures, and properties that overcome regional differences. Stages of Life reads these eclectic cultural productions as a unified body of work that contributes to the formation of Latina identity in America today.
Women performers played a vital role in the development of American and transatlantic entertainment, celebrity culture, and gender ideology. Sara E. Lampert examines the lives, careers, and fame of overlooked figures from Europe and the United States whose work in melodrama, ballet, and other stage shows shocked and excited early U.S. audiences. These women lived and performed the tensions and contradictions of nineteenth-century gender roles, sparking debates about women's place in public life. Yet even their unprecedented wealth and prominence failed to break the patriarchal family structures that governed their lives and conditioned their careers. Inevitable contradictions arose. The burgeoning celebrity culture of the time forced women stage stars to don the costumes of domestic femininity even as the unsettled nature of life in the theater defied these ideals.
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.
The essays in Upstaging Big Daddy: Directing Theater as if Gender and Race Matter argue that directing, as it has been taught and handed down over the years, has worked in the service of a body of dramatic literature that has routinely minimized or distorted the lives of women, people of color, gay men, and lesbians. The book’s contributors see directing not as an ideologically neutral set of skills, but as something that has served historically to preserve existing forms of authority.
What happens, then, when a feminist who directs for the theater decides that there is something called a feminist director, someone who sees her job as protesting and intervening in the existing system of representation? The contributors to this volume provide a wide range of answers, in original essays that disrupt traditional approaches of directing by showing how feminist theory might be applied in practice.
Essays and interviews by a wide variety of directors, scholars, and other theater specialists offer fresh new models for thinking about directing. The collection includes essays on African-American theater, feminist “classics,” and male directors working on feminist plays, as well as concrete suggestions for directing a variety of plays, from works by Shakespeare and Euripides to those by Caryl Churchill, Aishah Rahman, and Helene Cixous. The theoretical material, drawing from a wide range of contemporary critics and theorists, has been written with the director in mind, partly for the purpose of analyzing texts but also for inspiring creative directorial and design solutions.
Black examines the roles a remarkable group of women played in one of the most influential theatre groups in America, demonstrating their influence on 20th-century dramaturgy and culture.
In this fascinating work, Cheryl Black argues that, in addition to its role in developing an American tradition of non-commercial theatre, Provincetown has another, largely unacknowledged claim to fame—it was one of the first theatre companies in America in which women achieved prominence in every area of operation. At a time when women playwrights were rare, women directors rarer, and women scenic designers unheard of, Provincetown’s female members excelled in all of these roles.
In addition to the well-known playwright Susan Gaspell, the company’s female membership included the likes of poets Edna St. Vincent Millay, Mina Loy, and Djuna Barnes; journalists Louise Bryant and Mary Heaton Vorce; novelists Neith Boyce and Evelyn Scott; and painter Marguerite Zorach. The Women of Provincetown is an engaging work of social history, offering new insights into the relationship between gender and theatre.