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The Performative Voice in the Dramatic Works of Samuel Beckett
Central to Samuel Beckett’s literature is a wilful voice which insists on speaking and being heard. Beckett described it as “a truly exterior voice”, and in the plays he separates voice from the body and turns it into an audible character. Previous critical studies have explored the enigma of this voice, its identity, source and location, but little attention has been given to the voice as protagonist. This volume traces the genesis of the performative voice in the early prose and charts its trajectory throughout the dramatic oeuvre in a readable narrative which generates fresh insights into some of Beckett’s most remarkable and impenetrable plays. It examines the use of embodied and acousmatic – ‘out of body’ – voices in the different media of theatre, radio and television; the treatment of voice in relation to music, image and movement; and the ‘shifting threshold’ between the written and spoken word. The analysis comprises a detailed study of dramatic speech and technical aspects of sound reproduction, making it relevant for all scholars and students with an interest in textual and performance issues in Beckett’s drama.
Strindberg and the Quest for Sacred Theatre brings a fresh perspective to the study of Sweden’s great playwright. August Strindberg (1849-1912) anticipated most of the major developments in European theatre over the last century. As such he is well-placed to provide perspectives on the current burgeoning interest in sacred theatre. The religious crises of the 19th Century provoked in Strindberg both sharp scepticism about claims to religious authority and a visionary search for truth. Against the backdrop of a major change in European culture this book traces the emergence in some of Strindberg’s late plays of a proto-sacred-theatre. It argues that Strindberg faced the alternatives of a contentless transcendent abyss, threatening the extinction of his ego, or a retreat into conservative theism, reducing him to slavish submission to the commandments and rule of an external father-God. Weaving together theatrical, aesthetic, and theological voices, this book investigates the relationship of the sacred to subjectivity and its implications for Strindberg’s dramaturgy. In doing so it always keeps in view the sense both of loss and opportunity engendered by a turning point in the western experience of the sacred.
Editor: Arya Madhavan
This book explores the training methods, performance and aesthetics of Kudiyattam, the oldest existing theatre from in the world. It brings together for the first time a comprehensive analysis of the psycho-physical techniques employed by the actors in Kerala of this temple theatre form. The book offers an in-depth analysis of pakarnnattam, a unique acting technique that helps the actor to perform multiple characters in a single dramatic situation. This multiple transformational acting technique is highly relevant to enhance the actor’s abilities such as imagination, spontaneity and improvisation. The book employs a range of theoretical models developed from performance studies, gender theories, consciousness studies, Indian aesthetic and philosophical theories to investigate the actor’s body in training and performance. Most significantly, for the first time, the book offers some extra-ordinary insights into the links between the actor’s breathing and consciousness. It covers a range of topics: Hatha Yoga breathing techniques, eye training, hand gestures, movement techniques, voice training and rasa acting.
Reading Music Theatre as Experience and Performance
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.
Opera was a prominent political forum and a potent force for nineteenth-century nationalism. As one of the most popular forms of entertainment, opera could mobilize large crowds and became the locus of ideological debates about nation-building. Despite its crucial role in national movements, opera has received little attention in the context of nationalism. In Staging the Nation: Opera and Nationalism in 19th-Century Hungary, Krisztina Lajosi examines the development of Hungarian national thought by exploring the theatrical and operatic practices that have shaped historical consciousness. Lajosi combines cultural history, political thought, and the history of music theater, and highlights the role of the opera composer Ferenc Erkel (1810-1893) in institutionalizing national opera and turning opera-loving audiences into a national public.
Editor: Kene Igweonu
Trends in Twenty-First Century African Theatre and Performance is a collection of regionally focused articles on African theatre and performance. The volume provides a broad exploration of the current state of African theatre and performance and considers the directions they are taking in the 21st Century. It contains sections on current trends in theatre and performance studies, on applied/community theatre and on playwrights. The chapters have evolved out of a working group process, in which papers were submitted to peer-group scrutiny over a period of four years, at four international conferences. The book will be particularly useful as a key text for undergraduate and postgraduate courses in non-western theatre and performance (where this includes African theatre and performance), and would be a very useful resource for theatre scholars and anyone interested in African performance forms and cultures.
Corporeal Topographies in Literature, Theatre, Dance, and the Visual Arts
The human body as cultural object always has and is a performing subject, which binds the political with the theatrical, shows the construction of ethnicity and technology, unveils private and public spaces, transgresses race and gender, and finally becomes a medium that overcomes the borders of art and life. Since there cannot be a universal definition of the human body due to its culturally performative role as a producer of interactive social spaces, this volume discusses body images from diverse cultural, historical, and disciplinary perspectives, such as art history, human kinetics and performance studies. The fourteen case studies reach from Asian to European studies, from 19th century French culture to 20th century German literature, from Polish Holocaust memoirs to contemporary dance performances, from Japanese avant-garde theatre to Makeover Reality TV shows.
This volume is of interest for performance studies artists as well. By focusing on the intersection of body and space, all contributions aim to bridge the gap between art practices and theories of performativity. The innovative impulse of this approach lies in the belief that there is no distinction between performing, discussing, and theorizing the human body, and thus fosters a unique transdisciplinary and international collaboration around the theme performative body spaces. (I. Biopolitical Choreographies, II. Transcultural Topographies, III. Corporal Mediations, IV. Controlled Interfaces.)
Discourses, Strategies, and Power in the Yorùbá Play of Transformation
A poetic ‘voice’ scans the rhythm of academic research, telling of the encounter with odún; then the voice falls silent. What is then raised is the dust of a forgotten academic debate on the nature of theatre and drama, and the following divergent standpoints of critical discourses bent on empowering their own vision, and defining themselves, rather, as counterdiscourses. This, the first part of the book: a metacritical discourse, on the geopolitics (the inherent power imbalances) of academic writing and its effects on odún, the performances dedicated to the gods, ancestors, and heroes of Yorùbá history.
But odún: where is it? and what is it? And the ‘voice’? The many critical discourses have not really answered these questions. In effect, odún is many things. To enable the reader to see these, the study proceeds with an ‘intermezzo’: a frame of reference that sets odún, the festival, in its own historico-cultural ecoenvironment, identifying the strategies that inform the performance and constitute its aesthetic. It is a ‘classical’ yet, for odún, an innovative procedure. This interdisciplinary background equips the reader with the knowledge necessary to watch the performance, to witness its beauty, and to understand the ‘half words’ odún utters.
And now the performance can begin. The ‘voice’ emerges one last time, to introduce the second section, which presents two case studies. The reader is led, day by day, through the celebrations – odún edì, Morèmi’s story, and its realization in performance; then confrontation by the masks of the ancestors duing odún egúngún (particularly as held in Ibadan). The meaning of odún becomes clearer and clearer.
Odún is poetry, dances, masks, food, prayer. It is play ( eré) and belief ( ìgbàgbó). It is interaction between the players (both performers and spectators). It is also politics and power. It contains secrets and sacrifices. It is a reality with its own dimension and, above all, as the quintessential site of knowledge, it possesses the power to transform. In short, it is a challenge – a challenge that the present book and its voices take up.
The Political Voice in the Early Plays of Aphra Behn
Of Love and War: The Political Voice in the Early Plays of Aphra Behn is a study which situates Behn’s early plays within their historical and political context. Behn (c.1640-1689), the first professional female playwright in England, is a fascinating study, having traveled to Surinam as a young woman, served as a spy for Charles II, and evidently supported her family through her writing, including plays, poetry, fiction, and translation.
Her early plays have often been dismissed as romances, largely because they treat such social and/or gender issues as forced marriage and female desire. This study argues that these same social issues frequently serve as tropes for political commentary and propaganda in support of foreign and domestic policies. Behn’s plays clearly demonstrate staunch loyalist support of the Stuart government, yet within the dramatic construction, she—like her contemporary male colleagues, offers fascinating covert political criticism.
Editor: Michael McAteer
Silence in Modern Irish Literature is the first book to focus exclusively on the treatment of silence in modern Irish literature. It reveals the wide spectrum of meanings that silence carries in modern Irish literature: a mark of historical loss, a form of resistance to authority, a force of social oppression, a testimony to the unspeakable, an expression of desire, a style of contemplation. This volume addresses silence in psychological, ethical, topographical, spiritual and aesthetic terms in works by a range of major authors including Yeats, Joyce, Beckett, Bowen and Friel.