Methuen Drama Engage


Adaptation in Contemporary Theatre

Bloomsbury Publishing

Why are so many theatre productions adaptations of one kind or another? Why do contemporary practitioners turn so frequently to non-dramatic texts for inspiration? This study explores the fascination of novels, short stories, children's books and autobiographies for theatre makers and examines what 'becomes' of literary texts when these are filtered into contemporary practice that includes physical theatre, multimedia performance, puppetry, immersive and site-specific performance and live art.

In Adaptation in Contemporary Theatre, Frances Babbage offers a series of fresh critical perspectives on the theory of adaptation in theatre-making, focusing on meditations of prose literature within contemporary performance. Individual chapters explore the significance and impact of books as physical objects within productions; the relationship between the dramatic adaptation and literary edition; storytelling on the page and in performance; literary space and theatrical space; and prose fiction reframed as 'found text' in contemporary theatre and live art. Case studies are drawn from internationally acclaimed companies including Complicite, Elevator Repair Service, Kneehigh, Forced Entertainment, Gob Squad, Teatro Kismet and Stan's Cafe.

Adaptation in Contemporary Theatre is a compelling and provocative resource for anyone interested in the potential and the challenges of using prose literature as material for new theatrical performance.

This is the book on adaptation we all have been waiting for. The process of adapting prose litterature for the stage is here painstakingly reconstructed and described with different examples in a precise, subtle and clear manner.

This means analyzing the resulting performance, observing how the source text has been understood, thus rereading it in new creative ways.

During this theoretical and dramaturgical tour de force, Frances Babbage also takes us for a long, but lively journey through the most diverse experimental adapting practices of contemporary theatre.

Any literature theoretician, any theatre artist, any serious spectator (all of them easily « lost in adaptation ») will want to discover what is at stake in theatre adaptation and its mise en scène. They now have this precious book at their disposal, ready for adoption.

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

Christoph Schlingensief

Bloomsbury Publishing

The first book to focus specifically on the late German artist Christoph Schlingensief's theatre work, it subversively merges art, politics and everyday life to imbue his productions both inside and outside the theatre with a re-energized concept of the political in art.

Scheer traces Schlingensief's artistic lineage as a filmmaker with no formal training in theatre, whose work does not correspond to theoretical frameworks such as postdramatic theatre, Regietheater, or established categories of political theatre such as Brechtian, community, and agit-prop theatre. She explores how his work instead draws upon the highly performative gestures of the historical and post-Cold War avant-gardes as well the happenings and event-based practices of the sixties. Comprehensive case studies of six diverse theatrical and activist events are offered to demonstrate both the immediacy of Schlingensief's response to contemporary social and political events and his use of a range of artistic influences and different genres: Rocky Dutschke '68 (1996), Save Capitalism: Throw the Money Away! (1999) The Berlin Republic – or the Ring in Africa (1999) Hamlet (2001), Atta Atta – Art Has Broken Out! (2003) and the Church of Fear (2003).

Key questions such as how his theatre functions as a provocation, and how an artist can insert themselves into the powerful flows of imagery produced by the perpetual global news cycle, form a coherent line of enquiry throughout each of the chapters. The significance of Schlingensief's artistic legacy of politicized theatre-making that pioneers new modes of active, aesthetic and public engagement in the political realm remains pertinent to topical socio-political debates and is of relevance to an international audience across a diversity of disciplines.

'[This] collected volume Christoph Schlingensief: Art Without Borders, coedited with Tara Forrest in 2010, is an essential resource for anyone working on Schlingensief, particularly on the early English reception of his work. Scheer has now produced her first monograph on Schlingensief, which also functions as an introduction to his work for an English-speaking audience... Scheer's book will quickly become an essential guide for Schlingensief's perplexed followers.' German Studies

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

Ecologies of Precarity in Twenty-First Century Theatre

Bloomsbury Publishing

Presenting a rigorous critical investigation of the reinvigoration of the political in contemporary British theatre, Ecologies of Precarity in Twenty-First Century Theatre provides a fresh understanding of how theatre has engaged with precarity, affect, risk, intimacy, care and relationality in recent times. The study makes a compelling case for reading precarity as a 'sticky' theatrical trope which carries the potential to re-animate our understanding of identity politics and responsibility for the lives of Others in an age of uncertainty.

Approaching precarity as an ecology cutting across various practices, themes and aesthetics, the book features a comprehensive selection of theatre examples staged in the UK since the 1990s. Works by debbie tucker green, Alistair McDowall, Complicite, Simon Stephens, Stan's Cafe, Mike Bartlett, Caryl Churchill, The Paper Birds, and Belarus Free Theatre are put in dialogue with interdisciplinary feminist vocabularies developed by Judith Butler, Sara Ahmed, Lauren Berlant and Isabell Lorey. In focusing on areas such as children and youth at risk, human rights, environmental ethics and the politics of debt, the study makes a vital contribution to the burgeoning field of politics and theatre in the 21st century.

Fiery Temporalities in Theatre and Performance

Bloomsbury Publishing

Fiery Temporalities in Theatre and Performance: The Initiation of History takes up the urgent need to think about temporality and its relationship to history in new ways, focusing on theatre and performance as mediums through which politically innovative temporalities, divorced from historical processionism and the future, are inaugurated. Wickstrom is guided by three temporal concepts: the new present, the penultimate, and kairos, as developed by Alain Badiou, Giorgio Agamben, and Antonio Negri respectively. She works across a field of performance that includes play texts by Aimé Césaire and C.L.R. James, and performances from Ni'Ja Whitson to Cassils, the Gob Squad to William Kentridge and African colonial revolts, Hofesh Schechter to Forced Entertainment to Andrew Schneider and Omar Rajeh. Along the way she also engages with Walter Benjamin, black international and radical thought and performance, Bruno Latour, Stefano Harney and Fred Moten's logistics and the hold, and accelerationism.

Representing a significant contribution to the growing interest in temporality in Theatre and Performance Studies, the book offers alternatives to what have been prevailing temporal preoccupations in those fields. Countering investments in phenomenology, finitude, ghosting, repetition, and return, Wickstrom argues that theatre and performance can create a fiery sense of how to change time and thereby nominate a new possibility for what it means to live.

'The book … comes alive in its loving exploration of emblematic performances that blaze thrilling new directions for performance and for the narratives that support them … There is a wealth of inspiration here. Summing Up: Highly recommended.' CHOICE

'In a wonderful book that sets itself compellingly against death, against tragedy, against the closures and comforts of (theatrical) repetition, Maurya Wickstrom designates the theatre she loves as the source of an irruptive force of initiation. An initiation that is not against anything, that is not mere resistance, but insists instead upon being for something, for something before the end, for revolution, perhaps. Its bold claims are sustained through illuminating attention to the experience of a contemporary theatre that wrestles with its own contemporaneity.' - Nicholas Ridout, Queen Mary, University of London, UK

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

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.