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.

The Drama and Theatre of Sarah Ruhl

Bloomsbury Publishing

Sarah Ruhl is one of the most highly-acclaimed and frequently-produced American playwrights of the 21st century. Author of eighteen plays and the essay collection 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write, she has won a MacArthur “Genius” Grant and the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award, been nominated for a Tony Award for In the Next Room or the vibrator play and twice been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for The Clean House and In the Next Room.

Ruhl is a writer unafraid of the soul. She writes not about “this or that issue,” but “about being,” creating plays that ask “big questions about death, love, and how we should treat each other in this lifetime.” In this volume, Amy Muse situates Ruhl as an artist-thinker and organizes her work around its artistic and ethical concerns. Through a finely-grained account of each play, readers are guided through Ruhl’s early influences, the themes of intimacy, transcendence, and communion, and her inventive stagecraft to dramatize “moments of being” onstage. Enriched by essays from scholars Jill Stevenson, Thomas Butler, and Christina Dokou, an interview with directors Sarah Rasmussen and Hayley Finn, and a chronology of Ruhl’s life and work, this is a companionable guide for students of American drama and theatre studies.

'A comprehensive survey of Ruhl’s plays to date … Provides valuable insight into Ruhl’s unique theatricality and her ability to capture audiences and invite them into a work to experience the ‘soulfulness’ at its heart. The volume concludes with three critical essays, a useful chronology of Ruhl’s life and work, and detailed notes.' CHOICE

The Irish Dramatic Revival 1899-1939

Bloomsbury Publishing

The Irish Dramatic Revival was to radically redefine Irish theatre and see the birth of Ireland's national theatre, the Abbey, in 1904. From a consideration of such influential precursors as Boucicault and Wilde, Anthony Roche goes on to examine the role of Yeats as both founder and playwright, the one who set the agenda until his death in 1939. Each of the major playwrights of the movement refashioned that agenda to suit their own very different dramaturgies.

Roche explores Synge's experimentation in the creation of a new national drama and considers Lady Gregory not only as a co-founder and director of the Abbey Theatre but also as a significant playwright. A chapter on Shaw outlines his important intervention in the Revival. O'Casey's four ground-breaking Dublin plays receive detailed consideration, as does the new Irish modernism that followed in the 1930s and which also witnessed the founding of the Gate Theatre in Dublin.

The Companion also features interviews and essays by leading theatre scholars and practitioners Paige Reynolds, P.J. Mathews and Conor McPherson who provide further critical perspectives on this period of radical change in modern Irish theatre.

‘ What is new and welcome in this book is the inclusion of analyses of plays by playwrights often cast as marginal to the achievements of the Revival … The ghosts of the Irish Revival are expertly conjured and once again made vital.’ – Modern Drama

‘ Roche (Univ. of California, Davis), whose previous publications include Brian Friel: Theatre and Politics (CH, Mar'14, 51-3711) and Synge and the Making of Modern Irish Drama (CH, Jul'13, 50-6097), focuses on the figures who shaped this movement-W. B. Yeats, Lady Gregory, John Millington Synge, Sean O'Casey-and offers contextualized readings of their important plays. The author discusses various writers, benefactors, actors, and other figures who had a noteworthy influence on these dramas … It is accessible and valuable for those who seek to understand the cultural context of the revival. Summing Up: Recommended. ‘ Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals; general readers.’ – CHOICE

… the series' brief to provide both “critical survey and analysis” [my emphasis] makes the task undertaken by Anthony Roche in his study of the Irish Dramatic Revival particularly challenging … However, as might be expected from a critic whose work on Irish drama has been among the most informed of his generation, Anthony Roche fulfills this difficult task with aplomb … Whether one comes to the book as a student looking for an authoritative introduction to the Irish Dramatic Revival, or as an experienced academic interested in finding connections to pursue in one's own research, Anthony Roche proves to be a most engaging Critical Companion.’ – BREAC

‘ Roche's synthetic study close reads, contextualizes, and creatively juxtaposes individual plays of the Dramatic Revival in provocative ways that spark insights and make connections that reveal the dialogic nature-yet also coherence-of the Irish dramatic canon … chapters of Roche's book are filled with myriad illuminating observations on the plays and personalities of the Irish Dramatic Revival … Those wishing to read further in the field will find Roche's bibliography of primary and secondary sources useful and judicious.’ – English Literature in Transition

‘ Anthony Roche's volume is a welcome addition to the canon of the Irish revival ... The volume provides a probing and insightful reflection on the distinct nature of the dramatic revival ... Roche's discussion is lively and engaging and there is a constant tone of enthusiasm for the subject ... This volume should be on the shelves of everyone interested in Irish drama and literature.’ – New Theatre Quarterly

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

The Theatre of David Greig

Bloomsbury Publishing

David Greig has been described as 'one of the most interesting and adventurous British dramatists of his generation' (Daily Telegraph) and 'one of the most intellectually stimulating dramatists around' (Guardian). Since he began writing for theatre in the early nineties, his work has been both copious and remarkably varied, defying neat generalisations or attempts to pigeon-hole his work. Besides his original plays, he has adapated classics, is co-founder of the Suspect Culture Theatre Group and is currently Dramaturge for the National Theatre of Scotland.

This Critical Companion provides an analytical survey of his work, from his early plays such as Europe and The Architect through to more recent works Damascus, Dunsinane and Ramallah; it also considers the plays produced with Suspect Culture and his work for young audiences. As such it is the first book to provide a critical account of the full variety of his work and will appeal to students and fans of contemporary British theatre.

Clare Wallace provides a detailed analysis of a broad selection of plays and their productions, reviews current discourses about his work and offers a framework for enquiry. The Companion features an interview with David Greig and a further three essays by leading academics offering a variety of critical perspectives.

Clare Wallace's The Theatre of David Greig is a finely researched book that offers the first comprehensive account of the full range of the Scottish dramatist David Greig's expansive theatre output over the past twenty years. It is impressively rich in detail and broad in scope ... Each chapter in this book is imaginatively assembled, painstakingly researched and richly illustrated with examples from cultural theory as well as the plays ... [It] is impressively authoritative and never less than an intellectually stimulating read about a very important Scottish, British and international playwright. Journal of Contemporary Drama in English

The Theatre of David Henry Hwang

Bloomsbury Publishing

Since the premiere of his play FOB in 1979, the Chinese American playwright David Henry Hwang has made a significant impact in the U. S. and beyond. The Theatre of David Henry Hwang provides an in-depth study of his plays and other works in theatre.

Beginning with his "Trilogy of Chinese America", Esther Kim Lee traces all major phases of his playwriting career. Utilizing historical and dramaturgical analysis, she argues that Hwang has developed a unique style of meta-theatricality and irony in writing plays that are both politically charged and commercially viable.

The book also features three essays written by scholars of Asian American theatre and a comprehensive list of primary and secondary sources on his oeuvre.

This comprehensive study of Hwang's work follows his career both chronologically and thematically. The first chapter analyzes Hwang's early plays, "Trilogy of Chinese America," in which he explores issues of identity and cultural assimilation particular to Chinese Americans. Chapter two looks at four plays characterised as "Beyond Chinese America," which examines Hwang's less known plays. Chapter three focuses on M. Butterfly, which received the Tony Award for Best Play in 1988. In chapter four, Lee explores Hwang's development as a playwright during the decade of the 1990s with a focus on identity politics and multiculturalism. Chapter five examines Hwang's playwriting style in depth with a discussion of Hwang's more recent plays such as Yellow Face and Chinglish. The sixth chapter features three essays written by leading scholars in Asian American theatre: Josephine Lee on Flower Drum Song, Dan Bacalzo on Golden Child, and Daphne Lei on Chinglish. The final section provides a comprehensive compilation of sources: a chronology, a bibliography of Hwang's works, reviews and critical sources.

The Theatre of D.H. Lawrence

Bloomsbury Publishing

This is the first major book-length study for four decades to examine the plays written by D. H. Lawrence, and the first ever book to give an in-depth analysis of Lawrence's interaction with the theatre industry during the early twentieth century. It connects and examines his performance texts and explores his reaction to a wide-range of theatre (from the sensation dramas of working-class Eastwood to the ritual performances of the Pueblo people) in order to explain Lawrence's contribution to modern drama.

F. R. Leavis influentially labelled the writer 'D. H. Lawrence: Novelist'. But this book foregrounds Lawrence's career as a playwright, exploring unfamiliar contexts and manuscripts, and drawing particular attention to his three most successful works: The Widowing of Mrs Holroyd, The Daughter-in-Law and A Collier's Friday Night. It examines how Lawrence's novels are suffused with theatrical thinking, revealing how Lawrence's fictions – from his first published work to the last story that he wrote before his death – continually take inspiration from the playhouse.

This book also argues that although Lawrence has sometimes been dismissed as a restrictively naturalistic stage writer, his overall oeuvre shows a consistent concern with theatrical experiment, and manifests affinities with the dramatic thinking of modernist figures including Brecht, Artaud, and Joyce. In a final section, the book includes contributions from influential theatre-makers who have taken their own cue from Lawrence's work, and who have created original work that consciously follows Lawrence in making working-class life central to the public forum of the theatre stage.

'Moran provides a thorough discussion of the working dynamics of [Lawrence's] plays and displays a keen affinity for demonstrating the theatrical dependency of Lawrence's novels. After an introductory overview of Lawrence and his cultural milieu, Moran devotes chapters to Lawrence's transition into playwriting, his difficulties with the genre, specific correlations with his novels, and his maturation as a dramatist. … Replete with notes and an extended bibliography, Moran's study enhances appreciation of an important facet of Lawrence's artistry. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals.' CHOICE

'[A] useful companion to the theatrical works.' Times Literary Supplement

The Theatre of Harold Pinter

Bloomsbury Publishing

The plays of the late Nobel laureate Harold Pinter have formed part of the canon of world theatre since the 1960s. Frequently revived on the professional stage, and studied on almost every Theatre Studies course, his importance and influence is hard to overestimate. This Critical Companion offers an assessment of Pinter's entire body of work for the stage, appraising his skill as a dramatist and considering his impact and legacy.

Through a clear focus on issues of theatricality and the effect of the plays in performance The Theatre of Harold Pinter considers Pinter's chief narrative concerns and offers a unifying theme through which over four decades of work may be understood. Plays are considered in themed chapters that follow the chronological sequence of work, illuminating the development of his aesthetic and concerns. The volume features too a series of essays from other leading scholars presenting different critical perspectives on the work, including Harry Burton on Pinter's early drama; Ann Hall on Revisiting Pinter's Women; Chris Megson on Pinter's Memory Plays of the 1970s, and Basil Chiasson on Neoliberalism and Democracy.

[The Theatre of Harold Pinter] offers some valuable original insights and its close analysis of the development of Pinter's dramatic themes and aesthetics will be informative to students and general readers alike. Studies in Theatre and Performance

The Theatre of Martin Crimp

Bloomsbury Publishing

First published in 2006, Alek's Sierz's The Theatre of Martin Crimp provided a groundbreaking study of one of British theatre's leading contemporary playwrights. Combining Sierz's lucid prose and sharp analysis together with interviews with Martin Crimp and a host of directors and actors who have produced the work, it offered a richly rewarding and engaging assessment of this acutely satirical playwright. The second edition additionally explores the work produced between 2006 and 2013, both the major new plays and the translations and other work.

The second edition considers The City, the 2008 companion play to The Country, Play House from 2012 and the new work for the Royal Court in late 2012. The two works that have brought Crimp considerable international acclaim in recent years, the updated rewrite of The Misanthrope which in 2009 played for several months in the West End starring Keira Knightley, and Crimp's translation of Botho Strauss's Big and Small (Barbican, 2012), together with Crimp's other work in translation are all covered. The Theatre of Martin Crimp remains the fullest, most readable account of Crimps's work for the stage.

The Theatre of Sean O'Casey

Bloomsbury Publishing

This Critical Companion to the work of one of Ireland's most famous and controversial playwrights, Sean O'Casey, is the first major study of the playwright's work to consider his oeuvre and the archival material that has appeared during the last decade. Published ahead of the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland with which O'Casey's most famous plays are associated, it provides a clear and detailed study of the work in context and performance.

James Moran shows that O'Casey not only remains the most performed playwright at Ireland's national theatre, but that the playwright was also one of the most controversial and divisive literary figures, whose work caused riots and who alienated many of his supporters. Since the start of the 'Troubles' in the North of Ireland, his work has been associated with Irish historical revisionism, and has become the subject of debate about Irish nationalism and revolutionary history.

Moran's admirably clear study considers the writer's plays, autobiographical writings and essays, paying special attention to the Dublin trilogy, The Shadow of a Gunman, Juno and the Paycock, and The Plough and the Stars. It considers the work produced in exile, during the war and the late plays. The Companion also features a number of interviews and essays by other leading scholars and practitioners, including Garry Hynes, Victor Merriman and Paul Murphy, which provide further critical perspectives on the work.

There is no question that this book is the best so far reviewed in the Methuen Drama Critical Companions series. James Moran has worked very hard at understanding the life and work of one of the greats of Irish theatre and does a fine job of conveying his findings in a fashion that will satisfy the general reader as much as professionals … Moran paints a fully-rounded picture of this iconoclastic character and also analyses his plays with deft skill. The author's thorough analysis is also complemented by amongst others director Garry Hynes in an informative interview and academic Paul Murphy who has written an essay on O'Casey and class. This really is a first-class book and is highly recommended both to academics and the general reader, both of whom will learn far more about Sean O'Casey than a simple biography or academic study would achieve. British Theatre Guide

One cannot but admire the reader-friendly fashion Moran goes about presenting his findings – methodically preceding his chapters, as he does, with neat summaries of the major plays before clearly replacing them in their historical, political and cultural contexts. (The researcher will also be glad to find that the study comes with a set of richly documented end-notes most of which refer to unpublished archival material, and, in addition, a detailed chronology and index.) Cercles

This confidently written book serves to bring the career and work of one of Ireland's premier league playwrights slap bang into the twenty-first century. [ . . . ] The amalgamation of conceptual ideas, such as post colonialism and class, with a professional theatre-maker's experience of directing O'Casey's work is engaging, thought-provoking, and illuminating. [ . . . ] In summary, this is a well-researched, clearly written and engaging book . . . [and] something I will be recommending to my students in the years to come. Studies in Theatre and Performance

The Theatre of Tennessee Williams

Bloomsbury Publishing

Perfect for students of English Literature, Theatre Studies and American Studies at college and university, The Theatre of Tennessee Williams provides a lucid and stimulating analysis of Willams' dramatic work by one of America's leading scholars. With the centennial of his birth celebrated amid a flurry of conferences devoted to his work in 2011, and his plays a central part of any literature and drama curriculum and uibiquitous in theatre repertoires, he remains a giant of twentieth century literature and drama.

In Brenda Murphy's major study of his work she examines his life and career and provides an analysis of more than a score of his key plays, including in-depth studies of major works such as A Streetcar Named Desire, The Glass Menagerie, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and others. She traces the artist figure who features in many of Williams' plays to broaden the discussion beyond the normal reference points.

As with other volumes in Methuen Drama's Critical Companions series, this book features too essays by Bruce McConachie, John S. Bak, Felicia Hardison Londré and Annette Saddik, offering perspectives on different aspects of Williams' work that will assist students in their own critical thinking.

[Murphy] brings together ... useful information from Williams' work, writings and correspondence to make this a valuable academic work for anyone studying the playwright or American theatre ... A useful and well-written work British Theatre Guide

Brenda Murphy's The Theatre of Tennessee Williams is a thoroughly enjoyable read. The book describes the genesis and major themes of all of Williams's best-known plays and many of those that are less familiar; it provides, as well, an illuminating account of the plays' first productions and the ways in which they were inflected by their cultural contexts. Murphy writes with lucidity and an eye for the engaging detail, the telling quotation that will appeal to a broad audience. Her book serves as both a useful guide to Williams's work and an important contribution to the ongoing re-evaluation of that work Modern Drama

The Theatre of Timberlake Wertenbaker

Bloomsbury Publishing

The Theatre of Timberlake Wertenbaker offers the first comprehensive overview of Wertenbaker's playwriting career which spans more than thirty years of stage plays. It considers the contexts of their initial productions by a range of companies and institutions, including the Royal Court, the Arcola and the Women's Theatre Group. While examining all of Wertenbaker's original stage works, Sophie Bush's companion focuses most extensively on the frequently studied plays Our Country's Good and The Love of the Nightingale, but also draws attention to early unpublished works and more recent, critically neglected pieces, and the counterpoints these provide.

The Companion will prove invaluable to students and scholars, combining as it does close textual analysis with detailed historical and contextual study of the processes of production and reception. The author makes comprehensive use of previously undiscussed materials from the Wertenbaker Archive, including draft texts, correspondence and theatrical ephemera, as well as original interviews with the playwright. A section of Performance and Critical Perspectives from other scholars and practitioners offer a range of alternative approaches to Wertenbaker's most frequently studied play, Our Country's Good.

While providing a detailed analysis of individual plays, and their themes, theatricalities and socio-historical contexts, The Theatre of Timberlake Wertenbaker also examines the processes and shape of Wertenbaker's career as a whole, and considers what the struggles and triumphs that have accompanied her work reveal about the challenges of theatrical collaboration. In its scope and reference Sophie Bush's study extends to encompass a wealth of additional information about other individuals and institutions and succeeds in placing her work within a broad range of concerns and resonances.

Accessible and informative, The Theatre of Timberlake Wertenbaker engages in a detailed survey of Wertenbaker's career as a playwright. Bush's approach is rooted in a close, textual analysis of play texts and production contexts, whilst her material is structured by means of a chronological charting of the dramatist's work through to the contemporary moment . . . Three-pronged attention [to Our Country's Good], complemented by Bush's own discussion of this major, widely studied and performed work, augers a wide market for the book from secondary to tertiary levels . . . Overall Bush makes a robust case as to why 'the theatre of Timberlake Wertenbaker' deserves our enduring critical interest Studies in Theatre and Performance

Detailed and comprehensive. The Year's Work in English Studies

The Theatre of Tom Murphy

Bloomsbury Publishing

Tom Murphy shot to fame with the London production of A Whistle in the Dark in 1961, establishing him as the outstanding Irish playwright of his generation. The international success of DruidMurphy, the 2012-13 staging of three of his major plays by the Druid Theatre Company, served to underline his continuing appeal and importance. This is the first full scale academic study devoted to his theatre, providing an overview of all his work, with a detailed reading of his most significant texts.

His powerful and searchingly honest engagement with Irish history and society is reflected in the violent Whistle in the Dark, the epic Famine (1968), the often hilarious Conversations on a Homecoming (1985) and the darkly Chekhovian The House (2000). Folklore and myth figure more prominently in the spiritual drama of The Sanctuary Lamp (1975), the Faustian Gigli Concert (1983) and the women's stories of Bailegangaire (1985). The range and reach of Murphy's theatre is demonstrated in this informed reading, supported by key interviews with the playwright himself and his most important theatrical and critical interpreters.

'The best and most complete [book on Murphy] that anyone has yet produced and all future scholars and critics will use it as a diving board from which to plunge into Murphy's deep and turbulent waters.' Fintan O'Toole, The Irish Times

'Grene (emer., Trinity College Dublin) offers a portrait of Tom Murphy (b. 1935) that is both exhaustive and brilliant. Developed from Grene's years of interest in contemporary theater, the book illuminates Murphy's creative process and examines the strengths and shortcomings of his artistic journey. Of particular interest is Grene's exploration of the playwright's extensive reading, personal experience, and archival materials that support the published plays. The study is an extensive examination of Murphy's canon, with specific attention to significant plays grouped according to common themes or theatrical devices … Grene's careful study of Murphy's plays and the influences on his work can stand alone as a significant contribution to the appreciation of contemporary Irish theater. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.' CHOICE

'Nicholas Grene is a trusty guide through the work. He finds a common thread in otherwise very different plays ... Grene has done justice to one man's intrepid journey across the theatrical boards.' Times Literary Supplement

Verse Drama in England, 1900-2015

Bloomsbury Publishing

Verse Drama in England, 1900-2015 provides a critical and historical exploration of a tradition of modern dramatic creativity that has received very little scholarly attention. Exploring the emergence of a distinctly modern verse drama at the turn of the century and its development into the twenty-first, it counters common assumptions that the form is a marginal, fundamentally outdated curiosity. Through an examination of the extensive and diverse engagement of literary and theatrical writers, directors and musicians, Irene Morra identifies in modern verse drama a consistent and often prominent attempt to expand upon, revitalize, and redefine the contemporary English stage.

Dramatists discussed include Stephen Phillips, Gordon Bottomley, John Masefield, James Elroy Flecker, T. S. Eliot, W. H. Auden, Ronald Duncan, Christopher Fry, John Arden, Anne Ridler, Tony Harrison, Steven Berkoff, Caryl Churchill and Mike Bartlett. The book explores the negotiation of these dramatists with the changing position of verse drama in relation to constructions of national and communal audience, aesthetic challenge, and dramatic heritage. Key to the study is the self-conscious positioning of many of these dramatists in relation to an assumed mainstream tradition – and the various critical responses that that positioning has provoked. The study advocates for a scholarly revaluation of what must be identified as an influential and overlooked tradition of aesthetic challenge and creativity.

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.