Methuen Drama Engage


Authenticity in Contemporary Theatre and Performance

Bloomsbury Publishing

Authenticity is one of the major values of our time. It is visible everywhere, from clothing to food to self-help books. While it is such a prevalent phenomenon, it is also very evasive. This study analyses the 'culture of authenticity' as it relates to theatre and establishes a theoretical framework for analysis. Daniel Schulz argues that authenticity is sought out and marked by the individual and springs from a culture that is perceived as inherently fake and lacking depth. The study examines three types of performances that exemplify this structure of feeling: intimate theatre seen in Forced Entertainment productions such as Quizoola! (1996, 2015), as well as one-on-one performances, such as Oentroerend Goed's Internal (2009); immersive theatres as illustrated by Punchdrunk's shows The Masque of the Red Death (2007) and The Drowned Man (2013) which provide a visceral, sensate understanding for audiences; finally, the study scrutinises the popular category of documentary theatre through various examples such as Robin Soan's Talking to Terrorists (2005), David Hare's Stuff Happens (2004), Edmund Burke's Black Watch (2007) and Dennis Kelly's pseudo-documentary play Taking Care of Baby (2007). It is specifically the value of the document that lends such performances their truth-value and consequently their authenticity.

The study analyses how the success of these disparate categories of performance can be explained through a common concern with notions of truth and authenticity. It argues that this hunger for authentic, unmediated experience is characteristic of a structure of feeling that has superseded postmodernism and that actively seeks to resignify artistic and cultural practices of the everyday.

Beat Drama

Bloomsbury Publishing

Readers and acolytes of the vital early 1950s-mid 1960s writers known as the Beat Generation tend to be familiar with the prose and poetry by the seminal authors of this period: Jack Kerouac, Gregory Corso, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Diane Di Prima, and many others. Yet all of these authors, as well as other less well-known Beat figures, also wrote plays-and these, together with their countercultural approaches to what could or should happen in the theatre-shaped the dramatic experiments of the playwrights who came after them, from Sam Shepard to Maria Irene Fornes, to the many vanguard performance artists of the seventies.

This volume, the first of its kind, gathers essays about the exciting work in drama and performance by and about the Beat Generation, ranging from the well-known Beat figures such as Kerouac, Ginsberg and Burroughs, to the “Afro-Beats” - LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka), Bob Kaufman, and others. It offers original studies of the women Beats - Di Prima, Bunny Lang - as well as groups like the Living Theater who in this era first challenged the literal and physical boundaries of the performance space itself.

'The Beat generation created a surprisingly large body of drama. This book covers the obvious figures, like Michael McClure, Amiri Baraka, and Jack Kerouac, along with somewhat minor ones, e.g., Ted Joans and Rochelle Owens. Writers of the period with tangential connections to the Beats-Frank O'Hara, Rosalyn Drexler, Adrienne Kennedy-get their due as dramatists. The essays on theater groups (The Poets' Theatre and The Living Theatre) provide some important context for drama of the period. A few of the essays interpret drama rather loosely: Ginsberg's Howl and the early poems of Bob Kaufman have some dramatic elements but are not really plays. There are five essays on the Beats and film. A collection like this one has value because it rounds out knowledge of the Beats and their role in the period. The plays themselves are minor. The notes to essays are often stimulating. There is no overall bibliography, but each essay has a good list of works cited. This volume will be valuable for those with a particular interest in the Beats. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.' CHOICE

Brecht in Practice

Bloomsbury Publishing

David Barnett invites readers, students and theatre-makers to discover new ways of apprehending and making use of Brecht in this clear and accessible study of Brecht's theories and practices. The book analyses how Brecht's ideas can come alive in rehearsal and performance, and reveals just how carefully Brecht realized his vision of a politicized, interventionist theatre.

What emerges is a nuanced understanding of Brecht's concepts, his work with actors and his approaches to directing. The reader is encouraged to engage with his method which sought to 'make theatre politically', in order to appreciate the innovations he introduced into his stagecraft. Barnett provides many examples of how Brecht's ideas can be staged, and the final chapter takes a closer look at two very different plays: one written by Brecht and one by a playwright with no acknowledged connection to Brecht. Through an interrogation of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui and Patrick Marber's Closer, Barnett asks how a Brechtian approach can enliven and illuminate production.

The theater of Bertolt Brecht (1898–1956) has long suffered lamentable neglect in the US and the UK ... Fortunately, Barnett champions Brecht's cause with clarity and authority in this slim volume, which this reviewer predicts will soon prove indispensable to any serious Anglophone student of Brecht. ... The author draws on profound knowledge of the material, including Brecht's drama, the crucial Messingkauf fragments, and the history of the Berliner Ensemble. At the heart of the book is the chapter 'Brecht and the Actor,' which elegantly dispatches the fallacy of a Brechtian 'style' and should be required reading in any acting class. Later chapters offer excellent illustrative readings of the application of Brecht's principles to both Brechtian and non-Brechtian drama. Barnett has delivered a vital corrective to the misapprehension of Brecht's theater. Summing Up: Essential. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals; general readers. CHOICE

Barnett has done meticulous research and presents a very engaging scholarly argument. American Theatre

Brecht in Practice leads its reader seamlessly from Brecht's theoretical concerns to the practical matters with which they are inextricably linked ... [Barnett] writes with enviable clarity and precision ... as a result, successive potentially complex discussions are rendered effortlessly digestible. Modern Language Review

The Contemporary American Monologue

Bloomsbury Publishing

Talk-show confessions, online rants, stand-up routines, inspirational speeches, banal reflections and calls to arms: we live in an age of solo voices demanding to be heard. In The Contemporary American Monologue, Eddie Paterson looks at the pioneering work of US artists Spalding Gray, Laurie Anderson, Anna Deavere Smith and Karen Finley, and the development of solo performance in the US as a method of cultural and political critique. Ironic confession, post-punk poetry, investigations of race and violence, and subversive polemic, this book reveals the link between the rise of radical monologue in the late 20th century and history of speechmaking, politics, civil rights, individual freedom and the American Dream in the United States. It shows how US artists are speaking back to the cultural, political and economic forces that shape the world.

Eddie Paterson traces the importance of the monologue in Shakespeare, Brecht, Beckett, Chekov, Pinter, O'Neill and Williams, before offering a comprehensive analysis of several of the most influential and innovative American practitioners of monologue performance.

The Contemporary American Monologue constitutes the first book-length account of US monologists that links the tradition of oratory and speechmaking in the colony to the appearance of solo performance as a distinctly American phenomenon.

'In The Contemporary American Monologue, Australian university lecturer Eddie Paterson sets out to trace the work of four distinctly American monologue artists and to place their creative work within the larger context of dramatic monologues over the past two-and-a-half millennia … In examining these artists, Paterson provides an important initial study of the form's evolution, one sure to spark further examination and scholarship.' Studies in American Culture

'In succinct but comprehensive coverage, this engaging book offers the reader new perspectives on monologue. It sets out the origins and function of the dramatic monologue from historical precedents through to contemporary developments. The ambitious and largely successful ambit of the book means that it will appeal to theatre practitioners as well as researchers. Eddie Paterson presents the accepted ideas of theatrical monologue and then, in careful, thoughtful analysis, he explores how these were expanded through solo performance from the 1980s. Importantly, The Contemporary American Monologue treats monologue as a type of performance – and therefore best illustrated with the type of solo performance that emerged out of the United States.' TEXT

Drama and Digital Arts Cultures

Bloomsbury Publishing

Drama and Digital Arts Cultures is a critical guide to the new forms of playful exploration, co-creativity, and improvised performance made possible by digital networked media. Drawing on examples from games, education, online media, technology-enabled performance and the creative industries, the book uses the elements of applied drama to frame our understanding of digital cultures.

Exploring the connected real-world and virtual spaces where young people are making and sharing digital content, it draws attention to the fundamental applied drama conventions that infuse and activate this networked culture. Challenging descriptions of drama and digital technology as binary opposites, the book maps common principles and practice grounded in role, embodiment, performance, play, and identity that are being amplified and enhanced by the affordances of online media.

Drama and Digital Arts Cultures draws together extensive original research including interviews with game designers, media producers, educators, artists and makers at the heart of these new digital cultures. Young people discuss their own creative practices and products, providing insight into a complex and evolving world being transformed by digital technologies. A practical guide to the field, it contains case studies and examples of the intersections of drama conventions and networked cultures drawn from the US, Canada, UK, Netherlands, Singapore and Australia.

Written for scholars, educators, students and 'makers' everywhere, Drama and Digital Arts Cultures provides a clear understanding of how young people are blending creativity and learning with the powerful and empowering conventions of drama to create new forms of multimodal and transmedia storytelling.

‘This has the potential to be a leading book in the field it is itself participating in defining. What they propose is a significant and unique contribution to a specific area of performance studies.... what [it]does and offers goes beyond the by now 'traditional' notions of what constitutes 'digital performance' and challenges the established boundaries of 'performance' itself. Mark Taylor-Batty, University of Leeds, UK

This is a well-formulated and very timely proposal, and an ideal volume for the ENGAGE series. The coauthors have centered their attention on a compelling new way to think about the forms and conventions of drama as conventionally constructed in relation to the relatively new digital culture. Their multiple discussions range widely, moving on from elements of applied drama to consider the many ways these have been effectively and efficiently reformulated within learning practices, collaboration, performance art and a sometimes surprising number of other rubrics. What results is highly suggestive of the ways we might think of drama in a series of new contexts.’ – Enoch Brater, University of Michigan, USA

‘This is a compelling topic that is both timely and engaging. My sense is that the intersection of digital methods in education will continue at a rapid progression and the number of relevant programs will continue to expand. This makes the book both timely and likely to be durable in the long run.’ – Sarah Bay-Cheng, University at Buffalo, SUNY, USA

Howard Barker's Theatre: Wrestling with Catastrophe

Bloomsbury Publishing

Howard Barker and The Wrestling School have been seen as marginal to the major concerns of British theatre, problematic in their staging and challenging in the ideas they explore. Yet Barker's writing career spans six decades, he is the only living writer to have been accorded an entire season with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and The Wrestling School produces theatre of such a striking quality that it earned continuous Arts Council funding for nearly 20 years.

Wrestling with Catastrophe challenges existing ways of reading Barker's theatre practice and plays and provides new ways into his work. It brings together conversations with theatre makers from in and outside The Wrestling School, with first-hand accounts of the company's practice, and a selection of critical readings. The book's combining of testimony from key Wrestling School practitioners with alternative practical perspectives, and with analysis by both established and emerging scholars, ensures that a spectrum of understanding emerges that is rich in both breadth and depth.

In its consideration of the full range of Barker's aesthetic concerns – including text, direction, design, acting, narrative form, poetry, appropriation, painting, photography, electronic media, technology, puppetry, and theatre space – the volume makes a radical re-evaluation of Barker's theatre possible.

'The work of British playwright, director, painter, and photographer Howard Barker (b. 1946) is not well known in the US, although this eclectic but richly rewarding volume makes apparent it should be. Indeed, Barker's drama and the loosely affiliated group dedicated to producing it since 1986, the Wrestling School, are arguably marginal even in their native Britain. For this one can blame both Barker's eccentric, polyphonous, resistant, emphatically anti-naturalistic texts (which, as the editors are quick to assure the reader, are 'different' rather than difficult) and his uncompromising dedication to an alternative discipline of theater, which he has unfolded in a series of commentaries dedicated to the 'theatre of catastrophe.' Here, in an interview published as 'On Discipline,' Barker remarks: 'My intense concern is that the experience of the play is not diluted by weak practices.' The book comprises three complementary sections: 'Howard Barker and the Wrestling School' offers essays and interviews with Barker and some of the regular actors and directors associated with the Wrestling School over three decades; 'Readings/Inversions' provides scholarly considerations of Barker's work in relation to 'new writing,' spirituality, and visuality; and 'Other Barkers' offers essays scanning particular productions and approaches. Reynolds and Smith make a strong case for (re)discovering Barker's important oeuvre. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals.' CHOICE

Ibsen in Practice

Bloomsbury Publishing

The volume reveals an astonishing richness in the theatrical approaches to Ibsen across the world: it considers political theatre, institutional 'high art', theatre for development, queer and transgender theatre, Brechtian techniques, puppetry, post-dramatic theatre, rural village performance and avant-garde touring companies. Investigating varied renegotiations of his drama, including the work of Thomas Ostermeier in Germany and other parts of the world, versions of A Doll's House from Chile and China, The Wild Duck in Iran and productions of Peer Gynt in Zimbabwe and Egypt, Frode Helland provides a deeper understanding of a cross-cultural Ibsen. The volume gives an in-depth analysis of the practice of Ibsen in relation to political, social, ideological and economic forces within and outside of the performances themselves, and demonstrates the incredible diversity of his work in local situations.

Postdramatic Theatre and the Political

Bloomsbury Publishing

Is postdramatic theatre political? How can we account for the relationship between aesthetics and politics in new forms of theatre, playwriting and performance?

The chapters in this book discuss crucial aspects of the issues raised by the postdramatic turn in theatre in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century: the status of the audience and modes of spectatorship in postdramatic theatre; the political claims of postdramatic theatre; postdramatic theatre's ongoing relationship with the dramatic tradition; its dialectical qualities, or its eschewing of the dialectic; questions of representation and the real in theatre; the role of bodies, perception, appearance and theatricality in postdramatic theatre; as well as subjectivity and agency in postdramatic theatre, dance and performance.

Offering analyses of a wide range of international performance examples, scholars in this volume engage with Hans-Thies Lehmann's theoretical positions both affirmatively and critically, relating them to other approaches by thinkers ranging from early theorists such as Brecht, Adorno and Benjamin, to contemporary thinkers such as Fischer-Lichte and Rancière.

'This is a timely text, given that the politics of aesthetics has become an increasingly vital issue to contemporary theatre scholars and practitioners alike.' Performing Arts Journal

Ruth Maleczech at Mabou Mines

Bloomsbury Publishing

Constituting the first comprehensive look at Ruth Maleczech's work, Jessica Brater's companion is a landmark study in innovative theatre practice, bringing together biography, critical analysis, and original interviews to establish a portrait of this Obie-award winning theatre artist.

Tracing Maleczech's background, training and influences, the volume contextualizes her work and the founding of Mabou Mines within the wider landscape of American avant-garde theatre. It considers her performances and productions, revealing both her interest in making ordinary women important onstage, and her predilection for resurrecting extraordinary women from history and finding their resonances within a contemporary theatrical context. Brater explores Maleczech's investment in redrawing the boundaries of what women are allowed to say, both on stage and off, and shows how her commitment to radical artistic and production risks has reshaped the contours of a contemporary theatrical experience.

Highlights of the volume include discussion of productions such as Mabou Mines' Lear, Dead End Kids, Hajj, Lucia's Chapters of Coming Forth by Day, Red Beads, and La Divina Caricatura, as well as a close look at Maleczech's final work-in-progress, Imagining the Imaginary Invalid.

Social and Political Theatre in 21st-Century Britain: Staging Crisis

Bloomsbury Publishing

In a context of financial crisis that has often produced a feeling of identity crisis for the individual, the theatre has provided a unifying forum, treating spectators as citizens. This book critically deals with representative plays and playwrights who have stood out in the UK and internationally in the post-recession era, delivering theatre that in the process of being truthful to the contemporary experience has also redefined theatrical form and content.

Built around a series of case-studies of seminal contemporary plays exploring issues of social and political crisis, the volume is augmented by interviews with UK and international directors, artistic directors and the playwrights whose work is examined. As well as considering UK stage productions, Angelaki analyses European, North American and Australian productions, of post-2000 plays by writers including: Caryl Churchill, Mike Bartlett, Dennis Kelly, Simon Stephens, Martin Crimp, debbie tucker green, Duncan Macmillan, Nick Payne and Lucy Prebble.

At the heart of the analysis and of the plays discussed is an appreciation of what interconnects artists and audiences, enabling the kind of mutual recognition that fosters the feeling of collectivity. As the book argues, this is the state whereby the theatre meets its social imperative by eradicating the distance between stage and spectator and creating a genuinely shared space of ideas and dialogue, taking on topics including the economy, materialism, debt culture, the environment, urban protest, social media and mental health. Social and Political Theatre in 21st-Century Britain demonstrates that such contemporary playwriting invests in and engenders moments of performative reciprocity and spirituality so as to present the audience with a cohesive collective experience.

‘In so far as theatre holds up the mirror to our society, this detailed examination of plays from writers concerned with the current crises of individual alienation ... makes the book a timely exercise. Morning Star

The very premise of the book – that a new theatrical discourse has developed, one that interrogates acts of spectatorship within an ethical frame – is its key strength: exciting, novel and intellectually robust. The topicality of the book is refreshing and very welcome. The commitment to an international perspective, rooted very much in the ambition to pursue and define how shared pre-occupations are articulated through live theatre, is also a positive aspect of this proposal. The book will be the first time many of the plays addressed will feature within a monograph of this substance. Incorporating interviews as a means of consolidating that original survey and analysis, this book promises to be a key text for years to come.’ – Mark Taylor-Batty, University of Leeds, UK

‘Angelaki (Univ. of Reading, UK) contends in her epilogue that “playwrighting is not only alive as a genre of urgent socially and politically motivated theatre, but also in fighting form.” This is an apt summation of her book, which argues that “theatres of crisis” are alive and well in 21st-century Britain. In penetrating examinations of selected works of Caryl Churchill, Mike Bartlett, Dennis Kelly, Duncan Macmillan, Nick Payne, Martin Crimp, Simon Stephens, debbie tucker green, and Lucy Prebble, Angelaki builds a potent case for these playwrights' theatrically powerful response to matters of critical local and global concern, including the fallout from the politics of neoliberalism, community relations, ethics, environment, mass consumption, and healthcare. She believes their plays invite spectators to active engagement with crisis, and she structures her own argument to provoke a similar response, allowing readers to consider lengthy excerpts from the plays as well as a panoply of critical and scholarly responses and relevant texts from a range of disciplines. Angelaki also investigates how particular production choices enhance the political urgency of the plays, and she explores how unorthodox staging helps audiences shed passivity and become agents for change. Good bibliography and index. Summing Up: Recommended.’ – CHOICE

Methuen Drama Engage offers original reflections about key practitioners, movements and genres in the fields of modern theatre and performance.

Each volume seeks to challenge mainstream critical thought through the introduction of original and interdisciplinary perspectives to the body of work under examination. Contributions to volumes will challenge existing critical paradigms and do so in an engaging and accessible manner that will open up fresh approaches and suggest avenues for further exploration.