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The Performative Voice in the Dramatic Works of Samuel Beckett

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Sarah West

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.

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Edited by 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.

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Theo Malekin

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.

The Legacy of Opera

Reading Music Theatre as Experience and Performance

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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.

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Edited by Dominic Symonds and Pamela Karantonis

Voices of Justice and Reason

Apartheid and Beyond in South African Literature

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Geoffrey V. Davis

Over the past fifty years transformations of great moment have taken place in South Africa. Apartheid and the subsequent transition to a democratic, non-racial society in particular have exercised a profound effect on the practice of literature.
This study traces the development of literature under apartheid, then seeks to identify the ways in which writers and theatre practitioners are now facing the challenges of a new social order.
The main focus is on the work of black writers, prime among them Matsemela Manaka, Mtutuzeli Matshoba and Richard Rive, who, as politically committed members of the oppressed majority, bore witness to the “black experience” through their writing. Despite the draconian censorship system they were able to address the social problems caused by racial discrimination in all areas of life, particularly through forced removals, the migrant labour system, and the creation of the homelands. Their writing may be read both as a comprehensive record of everyday life under apartheid and as an alternative cultural history of South Africa.
Particular attention is paid to theatre as a barometer of social change in South Africa.
The concluding chapters consider how in the current period of transition writers and arts institutions have set about reassessing their priorities, redefining their function and seeking new aesthetic directions in taking up the challenge of imagining a new society.