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Understanding Plays

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Understanding Plays As Texts for Performance offers sixteen plays with critical commentaries that span the range of Western writing for the theatre from the Greeks to the post-moderns. This text introduces students to dramatic writing as “pre-texts” for theatrical performance-written to be performed by actors before audiences. In addition, it emphasizes playwriting conventions, elements, styles, trends, and movements to document changing dramaturgy and production practices in the West from Sophocles to Tony Kushner and Paula Vogel. Brief production histories and critical commentaries add to the student's understanding of the literature and the theatrical text as the basis for performance.

New and Notable Features:

  • Introduces students to the world of theatre with sixteen plays taken from theatrical history with extensive discussions of the types, elements, and styles of drama.
  • Begins with an introduction that sets forth drama's vocabulary, methods, and conventions for generating theatrical excitement and meaning, especially helpful for the beginning student.
  • Features five new plays that put students in touch with playwrights who are shaping today's theatre in America and that strengthen the presence of multicultural and women playwrights in the text.
  • Includes an entirely new chapter on “New” Docudrama and The Laramie Project by Moisés Kaufman, addressing a “re-discovered” form for writing and performance for the contemporary theatre.
  • Expands the chapter on the Intercultural Text demonstrating Latino/a and Asian-American playwriting, broadening the emphasis on multicultural and alternative voices in U.S. theatre.
  • Closes with a section on playwriting at the millennium featuring feminism, the "new" documentary text, solo performance, and interculturalism, exposing students to playwrights who are shaping the theatre of today and tomorrow.

Book News Annotation:

A textbook for a one-semester course in theater or literature. Along with scripts of 16 plays from classical Greek to modern, are commentaries by playwrights, directors, scholars, and critics. Earlier editions appeared in 1990 and 1994; the third includes new plays and commentary. Annotation (c)2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

Understanding Plays As Texts for Performance offers seventeen plays with critical commentaries that span the range of Western writing for the theatre from the Greeks to the post-moderns. This book introduces readers to dramatic writing as “pre-texts” for theatrical performance—written not only to be read, but also to be performed by actors before audiences.

Table of Contents

Preface.

I. INTRODUCTION.

1. From Text to Performance.

Drama and Performance.

Dramaturgy.

Drama's Stages.

Dramatic Time.

Drama's Landscapes.

Drama's Meanings and Messages.

Critics Notebook.

Re-Visiting Drama and Performance.

Photo.

II. ELEMENTS OF DRAMA.

2. Understanding Play Structure.

Drama's Special Mirrors.

Climactic Play Structure.

Episodic Play Structure.

Situational Play Structure.

Reflexive Structure.

The Tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmark, William Shakespeare.

Performing Hamlet.

Critics Notebook.

Re-Visiting Play Structure.

Photo: Peter Brooks Hamlet at Brooklyn Academy of Music.
3. Understanding Character.

Character's Doubleness.

Classical versus Modern Characters.

Observing Character-in-Action.

A Common Humanity.

Darwin, Marx, and Freud.

“Who's There?”

Postmodern Dissolution.

The Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams.

Performing The Glass Menagerie.

Critics Notebook.

Re-Visiting Dramatic Character.

Photo.
4. Understanding Language.

The Verbal Text.

Language as Organization.

Conventions of Stage Language.

The Cherry Orchard, Anton Chekhov.

Performing The Cherry Orchard.

Critics Notebook.

Re-Visiting Stage Language.

Photo.

III. TYPES OF DRAMATIC WRITING.

5. Tragedy.

Origins of Theater and Drama.

Aristotle's Definitions.

Drama's Elements and Conventions.

Theories of Tragedy.

Oedipus the King, Sophocles.

Performing Oedipus the King.

Critics Notebook.

Re-Visiting Greek Tragedy.

Photo: Smetana theater/Josef Svoboda Production, Prague.
6. Comedy.

Origins of Comedy.

Theories of Comedy.

English Comedy and Neoclassical Theory.

The Comedy of Manners.

The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde.

Performing The Importance of Being Earnest.

Critics Notebook.

Re-Visiting High Comedy.

Photo.
7. Farce and Satire.

Background.

Farce and Comedy.

Satire and Society.

The Colored Museum, George C.Wolfe.

Performing The Colored Museum.

Critics Notebook.

Revisiting Farce and Satire.

Photo: The Colored Museum, NY Shakespeare Festival Production.*
8. Tragicomedy and New Forms.

The Mixed Genre.

Modern Tragicomedy.

Angels in America Part One: Millennium Approaches, Tony Kushner.

Performing Angels in America.

Critics Notebook.

Re-Visiting Drama and Society.

IV. UNDERSTANDING MODERN WRITING STYLES.

9. Understanding Modernism.

Background.

Fragmentation.

Modernist Theory.

Hedda Gabler, Henrik Ibsen.

Performing Hedda Gabler.

Critics Notebook.

Re-Visiting Modernism.

Photo: Kate Burton in Hedda Gabler, Broadway, 2001.
10. Understanding Modern Realism.

Observations on the Ordinary

The “New” Dramatic Text

The Photographic Landscape

Naturalisms “Case Studies.”

The Well-Made Play.

Fences, August Wilson.

Performing Fences.

Critics Notebook.

Re-Visiting Modern Realism.

Photo: James Earl Jones in Fences, Yale Repertory Theatre.

V. UNDERSTANDING THEATRICALISM.

11. Understanding Theatricalism and Epic Theater.

The Stage as Platform.

Epic Theory & Practice.

Epic Techniques.

Galileo, Bertolt Brecht.

Performing Galileo.

Critics Notebook.

Re-visiting Epic Theater.

Photo: Brian Dennehy as Galileo in Goodman Theatre Production.
12. Understanding Minimalism and the Absurd.

Background.

Absurdist Theory.

The Stage as Existential Void.

Footfalls, Samuel Beckett.

Performing Footfalls.

Critics Notebook.

Photo: Billie Whitelaw in Samuel Beckett Theatre production of Footfalls.

VI. PLAYWRITING AT TEH MILLENIUM.

13. Understanding Feminist Drama and Performance.

Gender, Art, and Politics.

Feminist Theory.

Feminist Play Structure.

How I Learned to Drive, Paula Vogel.

Performing How I Learned to Drive.

Critics Notebook.

Re-Visiting Feminist Theatre.

Photo: Mary Louise Parker in How I Learned to Drive, Off Broadway.
14. Understanding the “New” Docudrama.

Reconstructing Modern History in the Epic Style.

The “Living Newspaper.”

The “New” Documentary Play.

The Laramie Project, Moisés Kaufman.

Performing The Laramie Project.

Critics Notebook.

Revisiting Documentary Theater.

Photo.
15. Understanding the Solo Performance Text.

Performance: A Definition in Three Keys.

Performance Art.

Solo Performance: Theory & Practice.

Shaping the Solo Performance Text.

Of Mice, Bugs and Women (The Secaucas Monologue), Deb Margolin.

Performing The Secaucas Monologue.

Critics Notebook.

Re-Visiting Performance Art.

Photo: Deb Margolin in Performance.
16. Understanding Interculturalism.

Background.

The Intercultural Text.

U.S. Hispanic and Latino/Latina Playwriting.

Broken Eggs, Eduardo Machado.

Performing Broken Eggs.

Critics Notebook.

Photo: Production of Broken Eggs, Repertorio Espanol, Off Broadway.

Asian-American Playwriting

Golden Child, David Henry Hwang

Performing Golden Child.

Critics Notebook: On Asian-American Drama

Re-Visiting Interculturalism.

Photo: Production of Golden Child, East West Players, 2000.
Appendix.

Play Analysis and Conceptualization: A Process, by Gayle M. Austin

List of Critical Terms.

Selected Readings.

Index.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780205381906
Publisher:
Pearson
Location:
Boston
Author:
Barranger, Milly S.
Subject:
Theater - General
Subject:
Composition & Creative Writing - Play/Scriptwriting
Subject:
Drama
Subject:
History and criticism
Subject:
Drama -- History and criticism.
Subject:
DRAMA / General
Copyright:
Edition Number:
3
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series Volume:
v. 10, issues 9-10
Publication Date:
July 2003
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
College/higher education:
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Yes
Pages:
752
Dimensions:
9.20x6.90x1.60 in. 2.55 lbs.

Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Drama » General
Arts and Entertainment » Drama » Play Anthologies
Arts and Entertainment » Drama » Production » General
Reference » Writing » General

Understanding Plays
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Product details 752 pages Allyn & Bacon - English 9780205381906 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Understanding Plays As Texts for Performance offers seventeen plays with critical commentaries that span the range of Western writing for the theatre from the Greeks to the post-moderns. This book introduces readers to dramatic writing as “pre-texts” for theatrical performance—written not only to be read, but also to be performed by actors before audiences.
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