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.

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.