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The Legacy of Opera

Reading Music Theatre as Experience and Performance


Edited by Dominic Symonds and Pamela Karantonis

The Legacy of Opera: Reading Music Theatre as Experience and Performance is the first volume in a series of books compiled by the Music Theatre Working Group of the International Federation for Theatre Research. The series explores the widening of the meaning of the term “music theatre” to reflect new ways of thinking about this creative practice beyond the genres circumscribed by discourses of theatre studies and musicology. Specifically it interrogates the experience of music theatre and its performance energies for contemporary audiences who engage with the emergence of new expressive idioms, new performative paradigms, new technologies and new ways of thinking. The Legacy of Opera considers some of the ways in which opera’s influence has informed our understanding of and approach to the musical stage, from the multiple perspectives of the ideological, historical, corporeal and artistic. With contributions from international scholars in music theatre, its chapters explore both canonic and experimental examples of music theatre, spanning a period from the seventeenth century to the present day.

"Mouths on Fire with Songs"

Negotiating Multi-Ethnic Identities on the Contemporary North American Stage


Caroline De Wagter

This book, the first cross-cultural study of post-1970s anglophone Canadian and American multi-ethnic drama, invites assessment of the thematic and aesthetic contributions of this theater in today’s globalized culture. A growing number of playwrights of African, South and East Asian, and First Nations heritage have engaged with manifold socio-political and aesthetic issues in experimental works combining formal features of more classical European dramatic traditions with such elements of ethnic culture as ancestral music and dance, to interrogate the very concepts of theatricality and canonicity. Their “mouths on fire” (August Wilson), these playwrights contest stereotyped notions of authenticity. In¬spired by songs of anger, passion, experience, survival, and regeneration, the plays analyzed bespeak a burning desire to break the silence, to heal and empower. Foregrounding questions of hybridity, diaspora, cultural memory, and nation, this comparative study includes discussion of some twenty-five case studies of plays by such authors as M.J. Kang, August Wilson, Suzan–Lori Parks, Djanet Sears, Chay Yew, Padma Viswanathan, Rana Bose, Diane Glancy, and Drew Hayden Taylor. Through its cross-cultural and cross-national prism, “Mouths on Fire with Songs” shows that multi-ethnic drama is one of the most diverse and dynamic sites of cultural production in North America today.

Theatre, Opera and Consciousness

History and Current Debates


Daniel Meyer-Dinkgräfe

The study of consciousness has developed considerably over the past ten years, with an emphasis on seeking to explain subjective experience. Our understanding of key questions relating to the performing arts, in theory and practice, benefits from the insights of consciousness studies. Theatre, Opera and Consciousness discusses selected concerns of theatre history from a consciousness studies perspective, develops a new perspective on ethical implications of theatre practice, reassesses the concept of the guru, and offers a new approach to the actor’s cool-down. The book expands the framework from theatre to opera, and presents a new consideration of the spiritual aspects of singing in opera, conducting for opera, and the opera experience for singers and spectators alike.


Edited by Charmian Brinson and Richard Dove

This volume focuses on the contribution of German-speaking refugees from Nazism to the performing arts in Britain, evaluating their role in broadcasting, theatre, film and dance from 1933 to the present. It contains essays evaluating the role of refugee artists in the BBC German Service, including the actor Martin Miller, the writer Bruno Adler and the journalist Edmund Wolf. Miller also made a career in the English theatre transcending the barrier of language, as did the actor Gerhard Hinze, whose transition to the English stage is an instructive example of adaptation to a new theatre culture. In film, language problems were mitigated by the technical possibilities of the medium, although stars like Anton Walbrook received coaching in English. Certainly, technicians from Central Europe, like the cameraman Wolf Suschitzky, helped establish the character of British film in the 1950s and 1960s. In dance theatre, language played little role, facilitating the influence in Britain of dance practitioners like Kurt Jooss and Sigurd Leeder. Finally, evaluating the reverse influence of émigrés on Germany, two essays discuss Erich Fried’s translations of Shakespeare and Peter Zadek’s early theatre career in Germany.


Edited by Angela Moorjani, Danièle de Ruyter-Tognotti, Dúnlaith Bird and Sjef Houppermans

Le Sang et les Larmes

Le suicide dans les tragédies profanes de Jean Racine


Tom Bruyer

En dépit de l’affirmation de Racine dans la préface de Bérénice que « ce n’est point une nécessité qu’il y ait du sang et des morts dans une Tragédie », la mort et le suicide en particulier sont omniprésents dans ses tragédies. Les pleurs versés par les personnages sur la scène suscitent à leur tour les larmes du spectateur qui donne libre cours à ses propres émotions. Le Sang et les Larmes s’attache d’une part à cerner les particularités du suicide dans les tragédies profanes de Racine et, de l’autre, à présenter les multiples enjeux poétiques, dramaturgiques et esthétiques du suicide. L’étude contextuelle établit quelle est, sous Louis XIV, la pensée officielle sur le suicide, et révèle plusieurs hésitations et contradictions. L’étude interne touche à des aspects majeurs de la dramaturgie racinienne : comment Racine réussit-il à contourner les limites fixées par la bienséance et quelle est la fonction des dénouements tragiques ?
Le Sang et les Larmes oppose aussi la représentation de l’acte suicidaire sur la scène du théâtre classique aux stratégies discursives des protagonistes de Racine. Une option parmi d’autres, le suicide devient essentiellement un moyen de chantage, mis au service d’une rhétorique cruelle destinée à faire parler « l’autre ». Il s’agit de remédier à l’échec de la communication en brisant un silence tenace qui accule les personnages tragiques au « sacrifice ». Comment ne pas être sensible à la violence de l’univers tragique racinien où la parole tragique exprime davantage toute la cruauté des affrontements entre les personnages ? Le théâtre classique est alors le lieu privilégié où s’articule une véritable esthétique de la mort, nonobstant les contraintes dramaturgiques qui en interdisent la représentation directe sur la scène.

Les Mystères

Studies in Genre, Text and Theatricality


Edited by Peter Happé and Wim Hüsken

This collection of essays in English by scholars of international standing presents new insights into the contexts in which the fifteenth-century French mystères were created. It is centred upon the remarkable outburst of large-scale plays written for urban production and dealing with biblical and hagiological subjects which transformed the art of theatre in France and gave rise to a new and multi-faceted theatrical culture. Among the subjects treated are the means by which surviving texts preserve theatrical practice, and some of the ways in which the work of the principal dramatists Eustache Mercadé, Arnoul Gréban and Jean Michel interact with one another and with the work of others. The nature of some surviving texts is subjected to close scrutiny and this includes detailed work upon some manuscripts and their typology. Attention is also given to the related moralités, the convent drama, and to the large corpus of Catalan plays which deal with similar topics but in different circumstances. Further contexts are addressed through paradramatic aspects including sermons and the chansons de geste, as well as the political environment. One recurring feature is the nature and activities of ubiquitous and powerful evil characters and their theatrical and theological significance.


David Lucking

Etymologically speaking, the words “know” and “narrate” share a common ancestry. Making Sense in Shakespeare examines some of the ways in which this distant kinship comes into play in Shakespearean drama. The argument of the book is that at a time in European cultural history in which the problem of knowledge was a matter of intensifying philosophical concern, Shakespeare too was in his own way exploring the possibilities and shortcomings of the various interpretative models that can be applied to experience so as to make it intelligible. While modes of understanding based upon such notions as those of naturalistic causality or rational human agency are shown to be inadequate in Shakespeare’s plays, his characters often impart form and significance to their experience through what are essentially narrative means, projecting stories onto events in order to make sense of them and to direct their activity accordingly. Narrative thus plays a crucial role in the construction of meaning in Shakespeare’s plays, although at the same time, as the author emphasizes, his works are no less concerned to illustrate the perils inherent in the narrativizing strategies deployed by their protagonists which often render them self-defeating and even destructive in the end.

Philologie et théâtre

Traduire, commenter, interpréter le théâtre antique en Europe (XVe – XVIIIe siècle)


Edited by Véronique Lochert and Zoé Schweitzer

Après avoir été longtemps réduites à des recueils de sentences morales ou à des modèles rhétoriques, les pièces des grands dramaturges grecs et latins reconquièrent, à la fin du XVe siècle, une part importante de leur théâtralité. Le travail des traducteurs, situé au carrefour de l’explication philologique et de l’appropriation culturelle, est un élément essentiel de ce renouveau.
Le théâtre occupe une place centrale parmi les œuvres antiques éditées et commentées par les Renaissants, et dans leurs réflexions sur l’Antiquité, mais pose de nombreux problèmes d’interprétation. Comment lire ces textes destinés à la scène et dont une pleine compréhension engage le ressaisissement d’un monde révolu?
Les contributions réunies dans ce volume explorent la diversité des pratiques européennes du XVe au XVIIIe siècle afin de mieux mettre en valeur le rôle joué par la traduction dans le nouveau statut du texte dramatique. Elles éclairent la dimension herméneutique de la traduction, son apport à la réflexion théorique sur le théâtre et la place du spectacle antique dans la Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes.


Edited by Mariko Hori Tanaka, Yoshiki Tajiri and Michiko Tsushima

Samuel Beckett and Pain is a collection of ten essays which explores the theme of pain in Beckett’s works. Experiencing both physical and psychological pain in the course of his life, Beckett found suffering in human life inevitable, accepted it as a source of inspiration in his writings, and probed it to gain deeper insight into the difficult and emotionally demanding processes of artistic creation, practice and performance. Acknowledging the recent developments in the study of pain in literature and culture, this volume explores various aspects of pain in Beckett’s works, a subject which has been heretofore only sporadically noted. The topics discussed include Beckett’s aesthetics and pain, pain as loss and trauma, pain in relation to palliation, pain at the experience of the limit, pain as archive, and pain as part of everyday life and language. This volume is characterized by its plural, interdisciplinary perspectives covering the fields of literature, theatre, art, philosophy, and psychoanalysis. By suggesting more diverse paths in Beckett studies, the authors hope to make a lasting contribution to contemporary literary studies and other relevant fields.