Methuen Drama Engage


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

Theatre in the Dark

Bloomsbury Publishing

Theatre in the Dark: Shadow, Gloom and Blackout in Contemporary Theatre responds to a rising tide of experimentation in theatre practice that eliminates or obscures light. It brings together leading and emerging practitioners and researchers in a volume dedicated to exploring the phenomenon and showcasing a range of possible critical and theoretical approaches.

This book considers the aesthetics and phenomenology of dark, gloomy and shadow-strewn theatre performances, as well as the historical and cultural significances of darkness, shadow and the night in theatre and performance contexts. It is concerned as much with the experiences elicited by darkness and obscured or diminished lighting as it is with the conditions that define, frame and at times re-shape what each might 'mean' and 'do'.

Contributors provide surveys of relevant practice, interviews with practitioners, theoretical reflections and close critical analyses of work by key innovators in the aesthetics of light, shadow and darkness. The book has a particular focus on the work of contemporary theatre makers – including Sound&Fury, David Rosenberg and Glen Neath, Lundahl & Seitl, Extant, and Analogue – and seeks to deepen the engagement of theatre and performance studies with what might be called 'the sensory turn'. Theatre in the Dark explores ground-breaking areas that will appeal to researchers, practitioners and audiences alike.

Theatre in the Expanded Field

Bloomsbury Publishing

Theatre in the Expanded Field is a fiercely original, bold and daring exploration of the fields of theatre and performance studies and the received narratives and histories that underpin them. Rich with interdisciplinary reference, international, eclectic and broad-ranging in its examples, it offers readers a compelling and provocative reassessment of the disciplines, one that spans pre-history to the present day.

Sixty years ago, in 1962, Richard Southern wrote a remarkable book called The Seven Ages of the Theatre. It was unusual in its time for taking a trans-disciplinary, new-historical and avowedly internationalist approach to its subject - nothing less than a totalizing view of its field. Theatre in the Expanded Field does not attempt to mimic Southern's work but rather takes his spirit of adventure and ambition as its frame for the contemporary moment of performance and its diverse pasts. Identifying seven ways of exploring the performance field, from pre-history to postdramatic theatre the book presents studies of both contemporary and historical works not as a chronological succession, but in keeping with their coeval qualities, as movements or 'generations' of connection and interaction, dissensus and interruption. It does this with the same purpose as Richard Southern's original work: to provide for the planning of responsive performance spaces 'now'.

Illustrated throughout with line-drawings, Theatre in the Expanded Field is as richly rewarding as it is ambitious and expansive in it vision.

Read's discursive, unstintingly intelligent, rigorous, and spirited book is nothing less than necessary reading for anyone who cares about what theatre is, and can be . . . [This] beautifully researched, thoughtful dream of a book asks its readers in turn to dream what kind of theatre, and what kind of approaches to its making, we dare as practitioners, scholars, readers, and spectators ... I use the word 'dream' to describe this book not as a soft, sentimental noun but rather as a way to reflect how the book operates on the reader's mind. It stops to dream. It asks us to dream. It provides some paths for us to consider, and space to wonder if there might be new paths left to forge Contemporary Theatre Review

In Theatre in the Expanded Field, Alan Read elucidates a vast collection of manifestations of performance at its most molecular. His flawless insight and persistent archeology reveal the intricate palimpsests at work in the architecture of building, book, image, or idea. His latest masterful textual performance - a book that reads like a spirited monologue that spans the centuries - offers an intellectual adventure for the reader that will only fortify Read's well-deserved reputation as an indispensible and galvanic life force of contemporary performance philosophy.

Like the course of a long and satisfying conversation, this book can take surprising twists and turns. Read moves unpredictably between and among contemporary theatre and performance practices, philosophy/theory, and prehistorical and historical artworks in order to lure one of his favorite animals – the human – into play. With its distinct seven generations – seven distinct essays – this book will become a kind of signature book in Read's unique method and provoke future scholars into new directions, yet to be thought.

Magnificent. Alan Read's new book explores the distinctions and relations between 'theatre' and 'performance' which lie at the heart of most contemporary cultural discourses, doing so in expansive, enlightening and extraordinary ways. For those of us immersed in the lived realities of such distinctions and relations, this book is absolutely essential reading.

In establishing his "seven approaches to performance," Read uses Richard Southern's The Seven Ages of the Theatre (1962) as a template, providing rich, eclectic studies of performance, pre- to postmodern. Each of the approaches reads like a performance monologue, teasing out the thesis that performance, "in the expanded field" of all human interaction, serves as a cultural irritant, celebrating contingency and playfulness as essential to the human animal. Theoretically sophisticated, academically challenging, and often very entertaining, this book will engage, irritate, and amuse the intellectually scrupulous and playfully inclined. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty, professionals. CHOICE

Theatre of Real People

Bloomsbury Publishing

Theatre of Real People offers fresh perspectives on the current fascination with putting people on stage who present aspects of their own lives and who are not usually trained actors. After providing a history of this mode of performance and theoretical frameworks for its analysis, the book focuses on work developed by seminal practitioners at Berlin's Hebbel am Ufer (HAU) production house. It invites the reader to explore the HAU's innovative approach to Theatre of Real People, authenticity and cultural diversity during the period of Matthias Lilienthal's leadership (2003–12).

Garde and Mumford also elucidate how Theatre of Real People can create and destabilise a sense of the authentic, and suggest how Authenticity-Effects can gg present new ways of perceiving diverse and unfamiliar people. Through a detailed analysis of key HAU productions such as Lilienthal's brainchild X-Apartments, Mobile Academy's Blackmarket, and Rimini Protokoll's 100% City, the book explores both the artistic agenda of an important European theatre institution, and a crucial aspect of contemporary theatre's social engagement.

Watching War on the Twenty-First Century Stage: Spectacles of Conflict

Bloomsbury Publishing

What do we watch when we watch war? Who manages public perceptions of war and how? Watching War on the Twenty-First-Century Stage: Spectacles of Conflict is the first publication to examine how theatre in the UK has staged, debated and challenged the ways in which spectacle is habitually weaponized in times of war. The 'battle for hearts and minds' and the 'war of images' are fields of combat that can be as powerful as armed conflict. And today, spectacle and conflict – the two concepts that frame the book – have joined forces via audio-visual technologies in ways that are more powerful than ever.

Clare Finburgh's original and interdisciplinary interrogation provides a richly provocative account of the structuring role that spectacle plays in warfare, engaging with the works of philosopher Guy Debord, cultural theorist Jean Baudrillard, visual studies specialist Marie-José Mondzain, and performance scholar Hans-Thies Lehmann. She offers coherence to a large and expanding field of theatrical war representation by analysing in careful detail a spectrum of works as diverse as expressionist drama, documentary theatre, comedy, musical satire and dance theatre. She demonstrates how features unique to the theatrical art, namely the construction of a fiction in the presence of the audience, can present possibilities for a more informed engagement with how spectacles of war are produced and circulated.

If we watch with more resistance, we may contribute in significant ways to the demilitarization of images. And what if this were the first step towards a literal demilitarization?

‘The range of work that the book proposes to cover, and the range of theoretical frameworks it intends to approach or manoeuvre, are highly appealing for a number of modules and to a range of staff and student interests... Much has been written about the impact of 9/11 and the 'war on terror' on cultural activities, but a book of this nature has not yet emerged amongst the range of literature that considers theatre in those contexts. The closest of this form, as Finburgh points out, is over 20 years old. More contemporary materials look more broadly at performance, but the strength of this book is the focus predominantly in drama, and the appeal across Europe of the writers she proposes to consider.’ – Mark Taylor-Batty, University of Leeds, UK

‘This study will be very useful for courses in modern and contemporary theater, courses on theater and politics, cultural studies, politics and the visual media and the like. So there is considerable appeal in this regard... This is a timely, useful and extremely relevant examination of the central ways in which 'the theater of war' enters the consciousness of a wide popular audience. The emphasis on the role of the visual media here is both pervasive and pointed, and the author displays a full consciousness of both perspectives as she calls them into her account of contemporary British theater. My overall impression is therefore very positive.’ – Enoch Brater, University of Michigan, USA

‘Exploring a gamut of works and issues, from the challenges of realism, to the use of documentary theater produced verbatim from transcripts, to the challenge of not staging “victimhood” while giving voice to victims, this volume fills a gap in the literature. 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.