the faculty bookshelf

Katherine Dunham Dance and the African Diaspora
Expressionism and Modernism in the American Theatre Bodies, Voices, Words
Performance and Literature in the Commedia dell'Arte
Oskar Kokoschka: The Painter as Playwright
The Poison Tree: A Memoir
Poverty and Charity in Early Modern Theater and Performance
Transnational Mobilities in Early Modern Theater
Staging the Blues: From Tent Shows to Tourism
The First Frame: Theatre Space in Enlightenment France
A Cultural History of Theatre in the Early Modern Age

Katherine Dunham Dance and the African Diaspora

Joins perspectives on dance studies, history, women's studies, and Africana studies

Highlights the importance of dance in the African diaspora

Utilizes never-before-seen documents and interviews with Dunham's students, dancers, and colleagues in the United States and Haiti

Expressionism and Modernism in the American Theatre Bodies, Voices, Words

Although often dismissed as a minor offshoot of the better-known German movement, expressionism on the American stage represents a critical phase in the development of American dramatic modernism. Situating expressionism within the context of early twentieth-century American culture, Walker demonstrates how playwrights who wrote in this mode were responding both to new communications technologies and to the perceived threat they posed to the embodied act of meaning. At a time when mute bodies gesticulated on the silver screen, ghostly voices emanated from tin horns, and inked words stamped out the personality of the hand that composed them, expressionist playwrights began to represent these new cultural experiences by disarticulating the theatrical languages of bodies, voices and words. In doing so, they not only innovated a new dramatic form, but redefined playwriting from a theatrical craft to a literary art form, heralding the birth of American dramatic modernism.

Introduces a new aspect to performance theory by identifying three modes of theatrical signification: verbal, vocal and pantomimic 'languages'

Includes an original account of O'Neill's early plays, and considers less well-known dramatists Rice, Lawson and Treadwell

Considers theatrical movements alongside American cultural history

Performance and Literature in the Commedia dell'Arte

The actors of the commedia dell'arte (the sixteenth-century Italian professional theater) usually did not perform from scripted drama. They improvised their performances from a shared plot and thorough knowledge of individual character roles. Robert Henke analyzes commedia dell'arte texts to demonstrate how the spoken word and written literature were combined in performance. Henke examines primary sources including performance accounts, actors' contracts, letters and other documents.

Other studies have concentrated on either the oral or literature aspects of the commedia dell'arte, but have not considered how they might have worked together

Provides close readings of many commedia dell'arte texts: performance accounts, actors' contracts, letters, popular poems, memorials of deceased actors, scenarios, etc., many never before analysed

Supplies detailed historical and cultural contexts for the commedia dell'arte

Oskar Kokoschka: The Painter as Playwright

Oskar Kokoschka: The Painter as Playwright focuses on the visual elements of the stage works, specifically on the use of color, light, and scenic imagery in their dramatic as well as their symbolic function. It pays close attention to the stylistically and thematically related pictorial works and takes account of Kokoschka's illustrations for each of his plays.

The Poison Tree: A Memoir

Growing up in his father’s looming shadow, Henry I. Schvey wondered if he was doomed to repeat the past, doomed to make the same mistakes his father made. Would he succumb to the drive for domination and transform his own world into one colored by fear, domestic violence, infidelity, and spousal abuse? Schvey grew up in New York as his father rose to the pinnacle of success in the Reagan era of dog-eat-dog global finance, eventually becoming Vice-President and Chairman of the Bond Funds Division at Merrill Lynch. But his father’s success was paid for with the currency of intimidation and he wore it with the braggadocio of a man with an outsized ego who didn’t care who he stepped on to get to the top―including his son.

The Poison Tree is a study of Schvey’s relationship to his father, an illumination of the secret life of a man who was powerful, highly respected, and greatly feared, and a journey―both sad and tragicomic―that ultimately leads to forgiveness.

Poverty and Charity in Early Modern Theater and Performance

Whereas previous studies of poverty and early modern theatre have concentrated on England and the criminal rogue, Poverty and Charity in Early Modern Theater and Performance takes a transnational approach, which reveals a greater range of attitudes and charitable practices regarding the poor than state poor laws and rogue books suggest. Close study of German and Latin beggar catalogues, popular songs performed in Italian piazzas, the Paduan actor-playwright Ruzante, the commedia dell’arte in both Italy and France, and Shakespeare demonstrate how early modern theatre and performance could reveal the gap between official policy and actual practices regarding the poor. The actor-based theatre and performance traditions examined in this study, which persistently explore felt connections between the itinerant actor and the vagabond beggar, evoke the poor through complex and variegated forms of imagination, thought, and feeling. Early modern theatre does not simply reflect the social ills of hunger, poverty, and degradation, but works them through the forms of poverty, involving displacement, condensation, exaggeration, projection, fictionalization, and marginalization. As the critical mass of medieval charity was put into question, the beggar-almsgiver encounter became more like a performance. But it was not a performance whose script was prewritten as the inevitable exposure of the dissembling beggar. Just as people’s attitudes toward the poor could rapidly change from skepticism to sympathy during famines and times of acute need, fictions of performance such as Edgar’s dazzling impersonation of a mad beggar in Shakespeare’s King Lear could prompt responses of sympathy and even radical calls for economic redistribution.

Transnational Mobilities in Early Modern Theater

Robert Henke and Eric Nicholson

The essays in this volume investigate English, Italian, Spanish, German, and Czech early modern theater, placing Shakespeare and his English contemporaries in the theatrical contexts of both western and central Europe. Contributors explore the mobility of theatrical units, genres, performance practices, iconographic images, and dramatic texts across geo-linguistic borders in early modern Europe. Combining "distant" and "close" reading, a systemic and structural approach identifies common theatrical units, or "theatergrams" as departure points for specifying the particular translations of theatrical cultures across national boundaries. The essays engage both "dramatic" approaches (e.g. genre, plot, action, and the dramatic text) and "theatrical" perspectives (e.g. costume, the body and gender of the actor). Following recent work in "mobility studies," mobility is examined from both material and symbolic angles, revealing a tension between transnational movement and resistance to border-crossing. Four final essays attend to the practical and theoretical dimensions of theatrical translation and adaptation, and contribute to the book's overall inquiry into the ways in which values, properties, and identities are lost, transformed, or gained in movement across geo-linguistic borders.

Staging the Blues: From Tent Shows to Tourism

Singing was just one element of blues performance in the early twentieth century. Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, and other classic blues singers also tapped, joked, and flaunted extravagant costumes on tent show and black vaudeville stages. The press even described these women as "actresses" long before they achieved worldwide fame for their musical recordings. In Staging the Blues, Paige A. McGinley shows that even though folklorists, record producers, and festival promoters set the theatricality of early blues aside in favor of notions of authenticity, it remained creatively vibrant throughout the twentieth century. Highlighting performances by Rainey, Smith, Lead Belly, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Sonny Terry, and Brownie McGhee in small Mississippi towns, Harlem theaters, and the industrial British North, this pioneering study foregrounds virtuoso blues artists who used the conventions of the theater, including dance, comedy, and costume, to stage black mobility, to challenge narratives of racial authenticity, and to fight for racial and economic justice.

The First Frame: Theatre Space in Enlightenment France

In the late eighteenth century, a movement to transform France's theatre architecture united the nation. Playwrights, philosophers, and powerful agents including King Louis XV rejected the modified structures that had housed the plays of Racine and Molière, and debated which playhouse form should support the future of French stagecraft. In The First Frame, Pannill Camp argues that these reforms helped to lay down the theoretical and practical foundations of modern theatre space. Examining dramatic theory, architecture, and philosophy, Camp explores how architects, dramatists, and spectators began to see theatre and scientific experimentation as parallel enterprises. During this period of modernisation, physicists began to cite dramatic theory and adopt theatrical staging techniques, while playwrights sought to reveal observable truths of human nature. Camp goes on to show that these reforms had consequences for the way we understand both modern theatrical aesthetics and the production of scientific knowledge in the present day.

A Cultural History of Theatre in the Early Modern Age

A Cultural History of Theatre presents an authoritative survey from ancient times to the present. The set of six volumes covers a span of 2,500 years, tracing the complexity of the interactions between theatre and culture.

1. A Cultural History of Theatre in Antiquity (500 BCE-1000CE), 2. A Cultural History of Theatre in the Middle Ages (1000-1400), 3. A Cultural History of Theatre in the Early Modern Age (1400-1650), 4. A Cultural History of Theatre in the Age of Enlightenment (1650-1800), 5. A Cultural History of Theatre in the Age of Empire (1800-1920), 6. A Cultural History of Theatre in the Modern Age (1920-2000+)

This structure offers readers a broad overview of a period within each volume or the opportunity to follow a theme through history by reading the relevant chapter across volumes.
Generously illustrated, the full six-volume set combines to present the most authoritative and comprehensive survey available on theatre in history.