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Synopses & Reviews
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:
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)
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
1. From Text to Performance.
Drama and Performance.
Drama's Meanings and Messages.
Re-Visiting Drama and Performance.
II. ELEMENTS OF DRAMA.
2. Understanding Play Structure.
Drama's Special Mirrors.
Climactic Play Structure.
Episodic Play Structure.
Situational Play Structure.
The Tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmark, William Shakespeare.
Re-Visiting Play Structure.
Photo: Peter Brooks Hamlet at Brooklyn Academy of Music.
3. Understanding Character.
Classical versus Modern Characters.
A Common Humanity.
Darwin, Marx, and Freud.
The Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams.
Performing The Glass Menagerie.
Re-Visiting Dramatic Character.
4. Understanding Language.
The Verbal Text.
Language as Organization.
Conventions of Stage Language.
The Cherry Orchard, Anton Chekhov.
Performing The Cherry Orchard.
Re-Visiting Stage Language.
III. TYPES OF DRAMATIC WRITING.
Origins of Theater and Drama.
Drama's Elements and Conventions.
Theories of Tragedy.
Oedipus the King, Sophocles.
Performing Oedipus the King.
Re-Visiting Greek Tragedy.
Photo: Smetana theater/Josef Svoboda Production, Prague.
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.
Re-Visiting High Comedy.
7. Farce and Satire.
Farce and Comedy.
Satire and Society.
The Colored Museum, George C.Wolfe.
Performing The Colored Museum.
Revisiting Farce and Satire.
Photo: The Colored Museum, NY Shakespeare Festival Production.*
8. Tragicomedy and New Forms.
The Mixed Genre.
Angels in America Part One: Millennium Approaches, Tony Kushner.
Performing Angels in America.
Re-Visiting Drama and Society.
IV. UNDERSTANDING MODERN WRITING STYLES.
9. Understanding Modernism.
Hedda Gabler, Henrik Ibsen.
Performing Hedda Gabler.
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.
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.
Galileo, Bertolt Brecht.
Re-visiting Epic Theater.
Photo: Brian Dennehy as Galileo in Goodman Theatre Production.
12. Understanding Minimalism and the Absurd.
The Stage as Existential Void.
Footfalls, Samuel Beckett.
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 Play Structure.
How I Learned to Drive, Paula Vogel.
Performing How I Learned to Drive.
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.
Revisiting Documentary Theater.
15. Understanding the Solo Performance Text.
Performance: A Definition in Three Keys.
Solo Performance: Theory & Practice.
Shaping the Solo Performance Text.
Of Mice, Bugs and Women (The Secaucas Monologue), Deb Margolin.
Performing The Secaucas Monologue.
Re-Visiting Performance Art.
Photo: Deb Margolin in Performance.
16. Understanding Interculturalism.
The Intercultural Text.
U.S. Hispanic and Latino/Latina Playwriting.
Broken Eggs, Eduardo Machado.
Performing Broken Eggs.
Photo: Production of Broken Eggs, Repertorio Espanol, Off Broadway.
Golden Child, David Henry Hwang
Performing Golden Child.
Critics Notebook: On Asian-American Drama
Photo: Production of Golden Child, East West Players, 2000.
Play Analysis and Conceptualization: A Process, by Gayle M. Austin
List of Critical Terms.
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