Critical Companions


British Musical Theatre since 1950

Bloomsbury Publishing

This critical introduction to British musical theatre since 1950 is the first book to discuss its post-war developments from the perspective of British – as opposed to American – popular culture. The genre is situated within the historical context of post-war British society in order to explore the range of forms through which significant sociocultural moments are represented.

Introductory chapters analyse the way British musicals have responded to social change, the forms of popular theatre and music from which they have developed and their originality in elaborating new narrative strategies since the seventies. A key feature of the book is its close readings of twelve key works, from Salad Days (1954) and Oliver! (1960) to global smash hits such as Les Misérables (1985), The Phantom of the Opera (1986) and beyond, including the latest critical and box-office success Matilda (2011). Also analysed are British favourites (Blood Brothers, 1983), cult shows (The Rocky Horror Show, 1975) and musicals with a pre-existing fan-base, such as Mamma Mia! (1999).

'Pleasingly, although each of the authors is an academic, they do not wear their learning to[o] heavily and this volume could easily please a general reader as well as students ... All in, this is a readable overview of its subject and a welcome addition to the bookshelves of anybody with an interest in British musicals.' British Theatre Guide

'This academic yet highly accessible text ... [offers] a detailed and relevant account of the industry from this side of the pond ... A demanding yet rewarding read ... There's much to enjoy for both the academic and the general theatre historian.' London Theatre

British Theatre and Performance 1900-1950

Bloomsbury Publishing

British theatre from 1900 to 1950 has been subject to radical re-evaluation with plays from the period setting theatres alight and gaining critical acclaim once again; this book explains why, presenting a comprehensive survey of the theatre and how it shaped the work that followed.

Rebecca D'Monte examines how the emphasis upon the working class, 'angry' drama from the 1950s has led to the neglect of much of the century's earlier drama, positioning the book as part of the current debate about the relationship between war and culture, the middlebrow, and historiography.

In a comprehensive survey of the period, the book considers:

- the Edwardian theatre;

- the theatre of the First World War, including propaganda and musicals;

-the interwar years, the rise of commercial theatre and influence of Modernism;

- the theatre of the Second World War and post-war period.

Essays from leading scholars Penny Farfan, Steve Nicholson and Claire Cochrane give further critical perspectives on the period's theatre and demonstrate its relevance to the drama of today.

For anyone studying 20th-century British Drama this will prove one of the foundational texts.

Disability Theatre and Modern Drama

Bloomsbury Publishing

Bertolt Brecht's silent Kattrin in Mother Courage, or the disability performance lessons of his Peachum in The Threepenny Opera; Tennessee Williams' limping Laura Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie and hard-of-hearing Bodey in A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur; Samuel Beckett's blind Hamm and his physically disabled parents Nagg and Nell in Endgame – these and many further examples attest to disability's critical place in modern drama. This companion explores how disability performance studies and theatre practice provoke new debate about the place of disability in these works. The book traces the local and international processes and tensions at play in disability theatre, and offers a critical investigation of the challenges its aesthetics pose to mainstream and traditional practice.

The book's first part surveys disability theatre's primary principles, critical terms, internal debates and key challenges to theatre practice. Examining specific disability theatre productions of modern drama, it also suggests how disability has been re-envisaged and embodied on stage. In the book's second part, leading disability studies scholars and disability theatre practitioners analyse and creatively re-imagine modern drama, demonstrating how disability aesthetics press practitioners and scholars to rethink these works in generative, valuable and timely ways.

Modern Asian Theatre and Performance 1900-2000

Bloomsbury Publishing

Modern Asian Theatre and Performance 1900 – 2000 is a ground-breaking survey, tracking the advent of modern drama in Japan, India, China, Korea and Southeast Asia. It considers the shaping power of realism and naturalism, the influence of Western culture, the relationship between theatrical modernisation and social modernisation, and how theatre operates in contemporary Asian society.

'This monograph is a refreshing account of modern Asian theatre, attempting to deconstruct these rigid presumptions and to show an altogether different picture of theatre development in Asia in the past century ... the strength of the book lies in its unique approach to the subject.' New Theatre Quarterly

'Covering an extensive geographic area, this volume compiles information about 20th-century theatrical performance-as defined by the West-in Japan, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, India, and the many nations of Southeast Asia … the book-which is replete with secondary (and tertiary) sources-provides extensive information and is a useful starting point for theater students interested in learning about the multiple and complex theater productions of 20th-century Asia. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates; graduate students.' CHOICE

Organised by period, nation and region, each chapter provides:

·a historical overview of the culture;

·an outline of theatre history;

·a survey of significant playwrights, actors, directors, companies, plays and productions.

With contributions from an international team of scholars, this authoritative introduction will uniquely equip students and scholars with a broad understanding of the modern theatre histories of Asia.

'This monograph is a refreshing account of modern Asian theatre, attempting to deconstruct these rigid presumptions and to show an altogether different picture of theatre development in Asia in the past century ... the strength of the book lies in its unique approach to the subject.' New Theatre Quarterly

'Covering an extensive geographic area, this volume compiles information about 20th-century theatrical performance-as defined by the West-in Japan, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, India, and the many nations of Southeast Asia … the book-which is replete with secondary (and tertiary) sources-provides extensive information and is a useful starting point for theater students interested in learning about the multiple and complex theater productions of 20th-century Asia. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates; graduate students.' CHOICE

The Plays of Samuel Beckett

Bloomsbury Publishing

Beckett remains one of the most important writers of the twentieth century whose radical experimentations in form and content won him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969. This Critical Companion encompasses his plays for the stage, radio and television, and will be indispensable to students of his work.

Challenging and at times perplexing, Beckett's work is represented on almost every literature, theatre and Irish studies curriculum in universities in North America, Europe and Australia. Katherine Weiss' admirably clear study of his work provides the perfect companion, illuminating each play and Beckett's vision, and investigating his experiments with the body, voice and technology. It includes in-depth studies of the major works Waiting for Godot, Endgame and Krapp's Last Tape, and as with other volumes in Methuen Drama's Critical Companions series it features too a series of essays by other scholars and practitioners offering different critical perspectives on Beckett in performance that will inform students' own critical thinking. Together with a series of resources including a chronology and a list of further reading, this is ideal for all students and readers of Beckett's work.

At this critical moment, The Plays of Samuel Beckett by Katherine Weiss seeks to re-evaluate Beckett's playwriting… As Weiss's volume makes clear, drama departments and practitioners of Beckett's theatre may have dominated the first generation of Beckett scholars, but have been noticeably thin on the ground [in recent years]. The Plays of Samuel Beckett attempts to redress the balance, by showing that Godot comprises only one part in Beckett's ongoing development as a writer and also by emphasizing the value of discussing Beckett's work in terms of drama and performance. Times Literary Supplement

Weiss's new book concisely analyses twenty of the Irish writer's dramatic works while also providing clarity in interpretation both for those intimately familiar with and newcomers to Beckett. Weiss effectively opens important dialogues with established critics and also contributes new perspectives Theatre Research International, vol. 39

Weiss's project entails a rather complex weave of ideas … [she] welcomingly bears the philosophical weight of not just Herren's but of all the contributors perspectives, engaging each in her own heavy take on Beckett's drama. Text and Presentation

The utility of Weiss's book therefore is in its exhaustive coverage of the plays and the collection of critical essays and interviews featuring distinguished Beckett scholars and performers … What this review cannot properly convey is Weiss's deft navigation of theory and philosophy … Weiss leads us on a tour of Beckett, surveying many major works, key criticism, and dramaturgy. The book is a manual for judicious practices in Beckett criticism, proffering an entry point into Beckett's oeuvre. Mondal

The Theatre and Films of Jez Butterworth

Bloomsbury Publishing

Jez Butterworth is the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful new British dramatist of the 21st century: his acclaimed play Jerusalem has had extended runs in the West End and on Broadway. This book is the first to examine Butterworth's writings for stage and film and to identify how and why his work appeals so widely and profoundly. It examines the way that he weaves suspenseful stories of eccentric outsiders, whose adventures echo widespread contemporary social anxieties, and involve surprising expressions of both violence and generosity.

This book reveals how Butterworth unearths the strange forms of wildness and defiance lurking in the depths and at the edges of England: where unpredictable outbursts of humour highlight the intensity of life, and characters discover links between their haunting past and the uncertainties of the present, to create a meaningful future. Supplemented by essays from James D. Balestrieri and Elisabeth Angel-Perez, this is a clear and detailed source of reference for a new generation of theatre audiences, practitioners and directors who wish to explore the work of this seminal dramatist.

The Theatre and Films of Martin McDonagh

Bloomsbury Publishing

Martin McDonagh is one of the world's most popular dramatists. This is a highly readable and illuminating analysis of his career to date that will appeal to the legions of fans of his stage plays and the films Six Shooter and In Bruges. As a resource for students and practitioners it is unrivalled, providing an authoritative and enquiring approach to his work that moves beyond the tired discussions of national identity to offer a comprehensive critical exploration.

Patrick Lonergan provides a detailed analysis of each of his plays and films, their original staging, critical reception, and the connections within and between the Leenane Trilogy, the Aran Islands plays and more recent work. It includes an interview with Garry Hynes, artistic director of Druid Theatre Company, and offers four critical essays on key features of McDonagh's work by leading international scholars: Joan Dean, Eamonn Jordan, Jose Lanters and Karen O'Brien. A series of further resources including a chronology, glossary, notes on McDonagh's use of language and a list of further reading makes this the perfect companion to one of the most exciting dramatists writing today.

Patrick Lonergan - as enthusiastic as a true film buff ought to be, yet as defensive as a proud father - seeks to soothe the hostilities, and to show that the sheer force of the reactions to McDonagh's work has provoked only prove his momentous talent... [the book provides] a wealth of information and resources. Times Literary Supplement

As Patrick Lonergan's entertaining and enjoyable study of the playwright and film-maker points out, academics have frequently been more hostile [than critics]. Lonergan attempts to re-address this...By shifting the focus of his debate away from perennial debates surrounding the authenticity of Irish representation, Lonergan is able to pose much more interesting questions about the relationship between the author and his work...each section includes a very useful section of production analysis. The book also includes an extremely detailed glossary offering readers explanations of all the terms and major historical events dis cussed in McDonagh's plays...Lonergan's easy conversational tone and knowledgeable discussion of the plays will, though, be of interest to a general readership interested in McDonagh's work, and this book offers a comprehensive account of his varied and occasionally controversial career to date. New Theatre Quarterly

The Theatre of Anthony Neilson

Bloomsbury Publishing

Anthony Neilson is one of the most exciting and challenging voices in contemporary British theatre. For two decades he has been in the vanguard of new writing and has acquired a reputation for innovation and experimentation. His major stage plays include Penetrator, The Censor, Stitching, Realism and his 2004 masterpiece The Wonderful World of Dissocia, arguably one of the best Scottish plays of the new millennium.

This volume provides the first full-length study of both Neilson's plays and his innovative rehearsal methodology. As well as providing a detailed account of each play Trish Reid includes an extensive new interview with Neilson and with many of his key collaborators. This is essential reading for anyone who wants to develop a better understanding of one of British theatre's most original artists on stage and in the rehearsal room.

The Theatre of Brian Friel

Bloomsbury Publishing

Brian Friel is Ireland's foremost living playwright, whose work spans fifty years and has won numerous awards, including three Tonys and a Lifetime Achievement Arts Award. Author of twenty-five plays, and whose work is studied at GCSE and A level (UK), and the Leaving Certificate (Ire), besides at undergraduate level, he is regarded as a classic in contemporary drama studies. Christopher Murray's Critical Companion is the definitive guide to Friel's work, offering both a detailed study of individual plays and an exploration of Friel's dual commitment to tradition and modernity across his oeuvre.

Beginning with Friel's 1964 work Philadelphia, Here I Come!, Christopher Murray follows a broadly chronological route through the principal plays, including Aristocrats, Faith Healer, Translations, Dancing at Lughnasa, Molly Sweeney and The Home Place. Along the way it considers themes of exile, politics, fathers and sons, belief and ritual, history, memory, gender inequality, and loss, all set against the dialectic of tradition and modernity. It is supplemented by essays from Shaun Richards, David Krause and Csilla Bertha providing varying critical perspectives on the playwright's work.

What sets this monograph apart from others devoted to this key playwright are its many illuminating, nuanced, surprising 'framings' of Friel's plays by other plays from the Irish, English, and European stage. Murray's most provocative insights arise from his imaginative juxtapositions, for example, of Philadelphia, Here I Come! and Miller's Death of a Salesman … Murray's fluency with theater history beyond the twentieth-century Irish stage gives his survey its fl[a]vor and edge … I would include [The Theatre of Brian Friel] … among the indispensable recent full-length appraisals of this seminal figure of the Irish stag. English Literature in Transition

Murray's strength is in his citation of those individual performances of the plays which he has witnessed over the years, and it is rarer to find the opening night of a Friel play which he did not attend than one he did. New Theatre Quarterly

Creative, fertile and fresh. … Murray's kind of criticism is best described as classical, representing an exemplary standard within a basically traditional and long-established form or style. As a generalist analysis of Friel's plays and their impact on contemporary theatre, this is the best, most extensive and most up-to-date study so far. Nordic Irish Studies

There are new insights here for those who know Friel's plays well but a sound introduction for others who may be coming to him for the first time. By its combination of a chronological and thematic approach, it contrives to avoid a pedestrian plod through the life and works, its master argument capacious enough to include the many different ways Friel has adapted tradition to the conditions of modernity. The Friel that emerges from Murray's book is a playwright of ideas, a literary playwright for whom language is all important, whose career has been dedicated to the development of an “aesthetic of modern tragedy”. Breac

The Theatre of Caryl Churchill

Bloomsbury Publishing

The Theatre of Caryl Churchill documents and analyses the major plays and productions of one of Britain's greatest and most innovative playwrights. Drawing on hundreds of never-before-seen archival sources from the US and the UK, it provides an essential guide to Churchill's groundbreaking work for students and theatregoers.

Each chapter illuminates connections across plays and explores major scripts alongside unpublished and unfinished projects. Each considers the rehearsal room, the stage, and the printed text. Each demonstrates how Churchill has pushed the boundaries of dramatic aesthetics while posing urgent political and theoretical questions. But since each maps Churchill's work in a different way, each deploys a different reading practice - for many approaches are necessary to characterise such a restlessly imaginative and prolific career.

Through its five interlocking parts, The Theatre of Caryl Churchill tells a story about the playwright, her work, and its place in contemporary drama.

'Gobert offers a refreshing exploration of how the rehearsal process and actual productions help shape viewers' perceptions of the author's work. Students and scholars of today's theatrical landscape will find much to admire in this volume, not the least of which is the research methodology, the contextual analysis, and the timeliness of the subject matter … A real plus is the examination and analysis of the production history of many of Churchill's works. Top Girls, Serious Money, Cloud Nine, Fen, and Blue Heart receive treatment generally not available elsewhere … Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers.' CHOICE

Ranging across the 20th and 21st centuries, Methuen Drama's Critical Companions series covers playwrights, theatre makers, movements and periods of international theatre and performance. Drawing on original research each volume provides a critical survey and analysis of a body of work by one author, giving attention to both text and performance. In addition, each book features several complementary scholarly essays and interviews with practitioners to provide alternative perspectives on the subject.