front cover of Act Like a Man
Act Like a Man
Challenging Masculinities in American Drama
Robert Vorlicky
University of Michigan Press, 1995

In the first comprehensive study of plays written for male characters only, Robert Vorlicky offers a new theory that links cultural codes governing gender and the conventions determining dramatic form. Act Like a Manlooks at a range of plays, including those by O'Neill, Albee, Mamet, Baraka, and Rabe as well as new works by Philip Kan Gotanda, Alonzo Lamont, and Robin Swados, to examine how dialogue within these works reflects the social codes of male behavior and inhibits individualization among men.

Plays in which women are absent are often characterized by the location of a male "other"—a female presence who distances himself from the dominant, impersonal masculine ethos and thereby becomes a facilitator of personal communication. The potential authority of this figure is so powerful that its presence becomes the primary determinant of the quality of men's interaction and of the range of male subjectivities possible. This formulation becomes the basis of an alternative theory of American dramatic construction, one that challenges traditional dramaturgical notions of realism.

The book will appeal to scholars and students interested in drama, gender, race, sexuality, and American culture, as well as playwrights, teachers of playwrights, and artistic directors. It includes an extensive bibliography of more than four hundred male-cast plays and monodramas, the first such compilation and one that points to further research into a previously unexplored area.

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Acting Jewish
Negotiating Ethnicity on the American Stage and Screen
Henry Bial
University of Michigan Press, 2005
The history of the American entertainment industry and the history of the Jewish people in the United States are inextricably intertwined. Jews have provided Broadway and Hollywood with some of their most enduring talent, from writers like Arthur Miller, Wendy Wasserstein, and Tony Kushner; to directors like Jerome Robbins and Woody Allen; to performers like Gertrude Berg, John Garfield, Lenny Bruce, and Barbra Streisand. Conversely, show business has provided Jews with a means of upward mobility, a model for how to "become American," and a source of cultural pride.

Acting Jewish documents this history, looking at the work of Jewish writers, directors, and actors in the American entertainment industry with particular attention to the ways in which these artists offer behavioral models for Jewish-American audiences. The book spans the period from 1947 to the present and takes a close look at some of America's favorite plays (Death of a Salesman, Fiddler on the Roof, Angels in America), films (Gentleman's Agreement, AnnieHall), and television shows (The Goldbergs, Seinfeld), identifying a double-coding by which performers enact, and spectators read, Jewishness in contemporary performance-and, by extension, enact and read other minority identities. The book thus explores and illuminates the ever-changing relationship between Jews and mainstream American culture.

"Fascinating and original . . . Bial's command of sources is impressive, and his concept of 'double-coding' is convincing . . . the book should have no trouble finding a large audience."
-Barbara Grossman, author of Funny Woman: The Life and Times of Fanny Brice

 
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Acting Up and Getting Down
Plays by African American Texans
By Sandra M. Mayo and Elvin Holt
University of Texas Press, 2014

One of the few books of its kind, Acting Up and Getting Down brings together seven African American literary voices that all have a connection to the Lone Star state. Covering Texas themes and universal ones, this collection showcases often-overlooked literary talents to bring to life inspiring facets of black theatre history.

Capturing the intensity of racial violence in Texas, from the Battle of San Jacinto to a World War I–era riot at a Houston training ground, Celeste Bedford Walker’s Camp Logan and Ted Shine’s Ancestors provide fascinating narratives through the lens of history. Thomas Meloncon’s Johnny B. Goode and George Hawkins’s Br’er Rabbit explore the cultural legacies of blues music and folktales. Three unflinching dramas (Sterling Houston’s Driving Wheel, Eugene Lee’s Killingsworth, and Elizabeth Brown-Guillory’s When the Ancestors Call) examine homosexuality, a death in the family, and child abuse, bringing to light the private tensions of intersections between the individual and the community.

Supplemented by a chronology of black literary milestones as well as a playwrights’ canon, Acting Up and Getting Down puts the spotlight on creative achievements that have for too long been excluded from Texas letters. The resulting anthology not only provides new insight into a regional experience but also completes the American story as told onstage.

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Acts of War
Iraq and Afghanistan in Seven Plays
Karen Malpede
Northwestern University Press, 2011
As Karen Malpede points out in her introduction to Acts of War, tragedy "arose as a complement to, perhaps also as an antidote to, war." The greatest of the early playwrights wrote from experience—Aeschylus and Sophocles were generals in the Athenian army, and Euripides was a combat veteran. Electronic media reports war instantly, but the stage provides an unrivaled venue for facing the horror of armed conflict on a human scale.This timely anthology of plays by American and British writers bears witness to the realities of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for combatants and civilians alike and asks what it means to be a citizen in a democracy at war. From violence on the battlefield and in the cells of Guantanamo to the toll exacted on the homefront, the seven plays collected by Malpede, Messina, and Shuman explore in depth the costs of war. Sometimes with humor or erotic charge, always with compassion and surprising insight, these contemporary plays return to the theater a necessary social edge.Karen Malpede’s introduction sets the plays in the broader contexts of theater’s roots and recent history, while award-winning journalist and author Chris Hedges provides a foreword.
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Alchemies of Theater
Plays, Scores, Writings
Dick Higgins
University of Michigan Press, 2024
In addition to his work as visual artist, publisher, poet, and composer, Dick Higgins (1938–98) was also a genuine man of the theater. A founder of Fluxus, he was a major figure in artistic communities in downtown New York City, across Europe, and in Japan. Yet as important as Higgins’s work has been to historians of the American avant-garde, relatively little attention has been paid to his radical theatrical vision. 

Alchemies of Theater brings together a broad selection of Higgins’s writings and theater-related work, much of it unpublished or long out of print, including plays and performance scores, drawings, and writings on theater and performance. As this book demonstrates, Higgins deconstructed the drama long before it became a project of theater; undercut the traditional roles of author and director; created what is now considered “devised” theater; pioneered the use of media in theater, writing the first electronic opera; and was a precursor in deconstruction and  “postdramatic” avant-garde traditions. His Intermedia manifesto offered a sweeping view of interdisciplinarity—in effect, a new arts ecology.
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American Drama in the Age of Film
Zander Brietzke
University of Alabama Press, 2007
Examines the strengths and weaknesses of both the dramatic and cinematic arts

Is theater really dead? Does the theater, as its champions insist, really provide a more intimate experience than film? If so, how have changes in cinematic techniques and technologies altered the relationship between stage and film? What are the inherent limitations of representing three-dimensional spaces in a two-dimensional one, and vice versa?
 
American Drama in the Age of Film examines the strengths and weaknesses of both the dramatic and cinematic arts to confront the standard arguments in the film-versus-theater debate. Using widely known adaptations of ten major plays, Brietzke seeks to highlight the inherent powers of each medium and draw conclusions not just about how they differ, but how they ought to differ as well. He contrasts both stage and film productions of, among other works, David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross, Sam Shepard’s True West, Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Margaret Edson’s Wit, Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, Tennessee Williams’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, and August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson. In reading the dual productions of these works, Brietzke finds that cinema has indeed stolen much of theater’s former thunder, by making drama more intimate, and visceral than most live events.
 
But theater is still vital and matters greatly, Brietzke argues, though for reasons that run counter to many of the virtues traditionally attributed to it as an art form, such as intimacy and spontaneity. Brietzke seeks to revitalize perceptions of theater by challenging those common pieties and offering a new critical paradigm, one that champions spectacle and simultaneity as the most, not least, important elements of drama.
 
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The American Pipe Dream
Performance of Drug Addiction, 1890-1940
Max Shulman
University of Iowa Press, 2022
The American Pipe Dream examines the many iterations of addiction as it was performed over the first half of the twentieth century, working from a massive archive of previously ignored material. Because the stage-addict became the primary way the U.S. public learned about addiction and drug use, Shulman argues that performance was essential in creating the addict in America’s cultural imagination. He demonstrates how modern-day perceptions of addiction and of the addict emerge from a complex history of accumulation and revision that spanned the Progressive Era, the Roaring Twenties, and the Great Depression.

Chapters look at how theatre, film, and popular culture linked the Chinese immigrant and opium smoking; the early attacks on doctors for their part in the creation of addicts; the legislation of addiction as a criminal condition; the comic portrayals of addiction; the intersection of Black, jazz, and drug cultures through cabaret performance; and the linkage between narcotic inebriation and artistic inspiration. The American Pipe Dream creates active connections between these case studies, demonstrating how this history has influenced our contemporary understanding, treatment, and legislation of drug use and addiction.
 
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American Political Plays after 9/11
Edited by Allan Havis
Southern Illinois University Press, 2010

American Political Plays after 9/11 is a diverse collection of bold, urgent, and provocative plays that respond to the highly charged, post 9/11 political landscape. Sparked by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and subsequently fueled by a series of controversial events—the Iraq war, the passing and enforcement of the U.S.A. Patriot Act, and the revelation of torture and other scandals at the Abu Ghraib prison—American political theater is currently experiencing a surge in activity. The plays in this collection include The Guys by Anne Nelson, At the Vanishing Point by Naomi Iizuka, The Venus de Milo Is Armed by Kia Corthron, Back of the Throat by Yusseff El Guindi, Three Nights in Prague by Allan Havis, and Question 27, Question 28 by Chay Yew.

The characters range from a New York City fire captain trying to respectfully memorialize eight of his lost comrades, to the citizens of a hog-killing Louisville neighborhood who poignantly exemplify the underside of the economic crisis, to an Arab American citizen being harshly (and possibly unfairly) interrogated by two officers as a “person of interest.” Though not all of the plays deal explicitly with the Al Qaeda attacks, they collectively reveal themes of sorrow and anxiety, moral indignation, alarmist self-preservation, and economic and social insecurity stemming from the United States’ fairly sudden shift from cold war superpower to vulnerable target.

The lively introduction by Allan Havis includes a brief history of political theater in the United States, an extensive discussion about how theater communities responded to 9/11, and an informative analysis of the six plays in the book.  A collection of dramatic material framed by this significant historical event, AmericanPolitical Plays after 9/11 will be indispensable for theater and cultural studies scholars and students.

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front cover of American Theater in the Culture of the Cold War
American Theater in the Culture of the Cold War
Producing and Contesting Containment, 1947-1962
Bruce A. Mcconachie
University of Iowa Press, 2003
In this groundbreaking study, Bruce McConachie uses the primary metaphor of containment—what happens when we categorize a play, a television show, or anything we view as having an inside, an outside, and a boundary between the two—as the dominant metaphor of cold war theatergoing. Drawing on the cognitive psychology and linguistics of George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, he provides unusual access to the ways in which spectators in the cold war years projected themselves into stage figures that gave them pleasure.

McConachie reconstructs these cognitive processes by relying on scripts, set designs, reviews, memoirs, and other evidence. After establishing his theoretical framework, he focuses on three archtypal figures of containment significant in Cold War culture, Empty Boys, Family Circles, and Fragmented Heroes. McConachie uses a range of plays, musicals, and modern dances from the dominant culture of the Cold War to discuss these figures, including The Seven Year Itch, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; The King and I,A Raisin in the Sun, Night Journey, and The Crucible. In an epilogue, he discusses the legacy of Cold War theater from 1962 to 1992.
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Asian American Plays for a New Generation
Plays for a New Generation
Edited by Josephine Lee, Don Eitel and R. A. Shiomi
Temple University Press, 2011

Asian American plays provide an opportunity to think about how racial issues are engaged through theatrical performance physical contact, bodily labor, and fleshly desire as well as through the more standard elements of plot, setting, characterization, staging, music, and action.

Asian American Plays for a New Generation showcases seven exciting new plays that dramatize timely themes that are familiar to Asian Americans. The works variously address immigration, racism, stereotyping, identity, generational tensions, assimilation, and upward mobility as well as post-9/11 paranoia, racial isolation, and adoptee experiences.

Each of these works engages directly and actively with Asian American themes through performance to provide an important starting point for building relationships, raising political awareness, and creating active communities that can foster a sense of connection or even rally individuals to collective action.

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The Bard in the Borderlands
An Anthology of Shakespeare Appropriations en La Frontera, Volume 1
Edited by Katherine Gillen, Adrianna M. Santos, and Kathryn Vomero Santos
Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2023
This volume features a wide range of plays that reimagine Shakespeare works from Borderlands perspectives.
 
For several decades, Chicanx and Indigenous theatermakers have been repurposing Shakespeare’s plays to reflect the histories and lived realities of the US–Mexico Borderlands and to create space to tell stories of and for La Frontera. Celebrating this rich tradition, The Bard in the Borderlands: An Anthology of Shakespeare Appropriations en La Frontera brings a wide range of Borderlands Shakespeare plays together for the first time in a multi-volume open-access scholarly edition. 

This anthology celebrates the dynamic, multilingual reworking of canon and place that defines Borderlands Shakespeare, and it situates these geographically and temporally diverse plays within the robust study of Shakespeare’s global afterlives. The editors offer a critical framework for understanding the artistic and political traditions that shape these plays and the place of Shakespeare within the multilayered colonial histories of the region. Borderlands Shakespeare plays, they contend, do not simply reproduce Shakespeare in new contexts but rather use his work in innovative ways to negotiate colonial power and to envision socially just futures.
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Best Black Plays
The Theodore Ward Prize for African American Playwriting
Chuck Smith
Northwestern University Press, 2007
Within the relatively recent development of a tradition of African American playwriting, the Theodore Ward Prize has, over its twenty-year history, offered a rich reflection of the accomplishments of emerging and established black playwrights and their growing importance in shaping contemporary theater. This volume showcases three winners of the Theodore Ward Prize--plays that in their quality and subject matter aptly represent what is being written and produced by African American playwrights and theaters today.

Carefully selected by a director and educator who has been affiliated with the contest for eighteen of its twenty years, these three works have themes that range from the sordid shenanigans of a Depression-era "South Side Burial Society" (Leslie Lee's Sundown Names and Night-Gone Things) to a single mother's heartbreaking battle to save her children's souls (Mark Clayton Southers' Ma Noah) to a poignant and achingly funny reunion of three sisters after their parents' death (Kim Euell's The Diva Daughters DuPree). Their publication answers a growing demand for the work of African American playwrights even as it affords deep and varied insights into African American culture in our era.
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Black Theater, City Life
African American Art Institutions and Urban Cultural Ecologies
Macelle Mahala
Northwestern University Press, 2022
Macelle Mahala’s rich study of contemporary African American theater institutions reveals how they reflect and shape the histories and cultural realities of their cities. Arguing that the community in which a play is staged is as important to the work’s meaning as the script or set, Mahala focuses on four cities’ “arts ecologies” to shed new light on the unique relationship between performance and place: Cleveland, home to the oldest continuously operating Black theater in the country; Pittsburgh, birthplace of the legendary playwright August Wilson; San Francisco, a metropolis currently experiencing displacement of its Black population; and Atlanta, a city with forty years of progressive Black leadership and reverse migration.
 
Black Theater, City Life looks at Karamu House Theatre, the August Wilson African American Cultural Center, Pittsburgh Playwrights’ Theatre Company, the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, the African American Shakespeare Company, the Atlanta Black Theatre Festival, and Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company to demonstrate how each organization articulates the cultural specificities, sociopolitical realities, and histories of African Americans. These companies have faced challenges that mirror the larger racial and economic disparities in arts funding and social practice in America, while their achievements exemplify such institutions’ vital role in enacting an artistic practice that reflects the cultural backgrounds of their local communities. Timely, significant, and deeply researched, this book spotlights the artistic and civic import of Black theaters in American cities.
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Bloody Tyrants and Little Pickles
Stage Roles of Anglo-American Girls in the Nineteenth Century
Marles Schweitzer
University of Iowa Press, 2020

Bloody Tyrants and Little Pickles traces the theatrical repertoire of a small group of white Anglo-American actresses as they reshaped the meanings of girlhood in Britain, North America, and the British West Indies during the first half of the nineteenth century. It is a study of the possibilities and the problems girl performers presented as they adopted the manners and clothing of boys, entered spaces intended for adults, and assumed characters written for men. It asks why masculine roles like Young Norval, Richard III, Little Pickle, and Shylock came to seem “normal” and “natural” for young white girls to play, and it considers how playwrights, managers, critics, and audiences sought to contain or fix the at-times dangerous plasticity they exhibited both on and off the stage.

Schweitzer analyzes the formation of a distinct repertoire for girls in the first half of the nineteenth century, which delighted in precocity and playfulness and offered up a model of girlhood that was similarly joyful and fluid. This evolving repertoire reflected shifting perspectives on girls’ place within Anglo-American society, including where and how they should behave, and which girls had the right to appear at all.

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Bulldaggers, Pansies, and Chocolate Babies
Performance, Race, and Sexuality in the Harlem Renaissance
James F. Wilson
University of Michigan Press, 2011
Bulldaggers, Pansies, and Chocolate Babies shines the spotlight on historically neglected plays and performances that challenged early twentieth-century notions of the stratification of race, gender, class, and sexual orientation. On Broadway stages, in Harlem nightclubs and dance halls, and within private homes sponsoring rent parties, African American performers of the 1920s and early 1930s teased the limits of white middle-class morality. Blues-singing lesbians, popularly known as "bulldaggers," performed bawdy songs; cross-dressing men vied for the top prizes in lavish drag balls; and black and white women flaunted their sexuality in scandalous melodramas and musical revues. Race leaders, preachers, and theater critics spoke out against these performances that threatened to undermine social and political progress, but to no avail: mainstream audiences could not get enough of the riotous entertainment.James F. Wilson has based his rich cultural history on a wide range of documents from the period, including eyewitness accounts, newspaper reports, songs, and play scripts, combining archival research with an analysis grounded in a cultural studies framework that incorporates both queer theory and critical race theory. Throughout, he argues against the widely held belief that the stereotypical forms of black, lesbian, and gay show business of the 1920s prohibited the emergence of distinctive new voices. Figuring prominently in the book are African American performers including Gladys Bentley, Ethel Waters, and Florence Mills, among others, and prominent writers, artists, and leaders of the era, including Langston Hughes, Wallace Thurman, Zora Neale Hurston, and W. E. B. Du Bois. The study also engages with contemporary literary critics, including Henry Louis Gates and Houston Baker. "James F. Wilson uncovers fascinating new material on the Harlem Renaissance, shedding light on the oft-forgotten gay and lesbian contributions to the era's creativity and Civil Rights. Extremely well researched, compellingly written, and highly informative."
—David Krasner, author of A Beautiful Pageant: African American Theatre, Drama, and Performance in the Harlem Renaissance, 1910-1927
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front cover of But Still Like Air
But Still Like Air
edited by Velina Hasu Houston, foreword by Roberta Uno
Temple University Press, 1997
In this pathbreaking volume, Velina Hasu Houston gathers together eleven plays that speak in the "hybridized, unique American voices of Asian descent -- and often dissent." These writers resist the bigotry that attempts to target them solely as people of color as well as the homogenizing tendencies of a multiculturalism that fails to recognize the varied make-up of Asian America. Anthologized for the first time, these plays testify to the rich complexity of Asian American experience while they also demonstrate the different styles and thematic concerns of the individual playwrights.

What are Asian American plays about? Family conflicts, sexuality, social upheaval, betrayal ... the stuff of all drama. Whether the characters are a middle-aged Taiwanese woman who is married to an Irish American and who dreams of opening a Chinese restaurant, a Chinese American female bond trader trying to survive a corporate takeover, or an ABC (American Born Chinese) gay man whose lover has AIDS, their Asian-ness is only a part of their story.

As a playwright, Houston is keenly aware of the rigid formulas that often exclude writers of color and women women writers from mainstream theater. But Still, Like air, I'll Rise brings forth vibrant new work that challenges producers and audiences to broaden their expectations, to attend to the unfamiliar voices that expresses the universal and particular vision of Asian American playwrights.
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Classic Plays from the Negro Ensemble Company
Harrison/Edwards
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1995

This anthology celebrates more than twenty-five years of the Negro  Ensemble Company’s significant contribution to American theater.  Collected here are ten plays most representative of the eclectic nature of the Negro Ensemble Company repertoire.

The Negro Ensemble Company (NEC) was formed in New York City in 1967 with support from the Ford Foundation to aid in the establishment of an independent African-American theater institution.  Under the artistic directorship of Douglas Turner Ward, the NEC offered a nurturing environment to black playwrights and actors who could work autonomously, guaranteeing authenticity of voice, full freedom of expression, and exploration of thematic views specific to the African-American experience.

Since its inception, the NEC has introduced audiences to more than 150 theatrical works.  <I>Classic Plays from the Negro Ensemble Company</I> allows scholars to review a diversity of styles which share common philosophical, mythic, and social ideals that can be traced to an African worldview.  A foreword by Douglas Turner Ward and an afterword by Paul Carter Harrison and Gus Edwards assess the literary and/or stylistic significance of the plays and place each work in its historical or chronological context.

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Contemporary Latina/o Theater
Wrighting Ethnicity
Jon D. Rossini
Southern Illinois University Press, 2008

In Contemporary Latina/o Theater, Jon D. Rossini explores the complex relationship between theater and the creation of ethnicity in an unprecedented examination of six Latina/o playwrights and their works: Miguel Piñero, Luis Valdez, Guillermo Reyes, Octavio Solis, José Rivera, and Cherríe Moraga. Rossini exposes how these writers use the genre as a tool to reveal and transform existing preconceptions about their culture. Through “wrighting”—the triplicate process of writing plays, righting misconceptions about ethnic identity, and creating an entirely new way of understanding Latina/o culture—these playwrights directly intervene in current conversations regarding ethnic identity, providing the tools for audiences to reexplore their previously held perspectives outside the theater.

Examining these writers and their works in both cultural and historical contexts, Rossini reveals how playwrights use the liminal space of the stage—an area on the thresholds of both theory and reality—to “wright” new insights into Latina/o identity. They use the limits of the theater itself to offer practical explorations of issues that could otherwise be discussed only in highly theoretical terms.

Rossini traces playwrights’ methods as they address some of the most challenging issues facing contemporary Latinas/os in America: from the struggles for ethnic solidarity and the dangers of a community based in fear, to stereotypes of Latino masculinity and the problematic fusion of ethnicity and politics. Rossini discusses the looming specter of the border in theater, both as a conceptual device and as a literal reality—a crucial subject for modern Latinas/os, given recent legislation and other actions. Throughout, the author draws intriguing comparisons to the cultural limbo in which many Latinas/os find themselves today.

An indispensable volume for anyone interested in drama and ethnic studies, Contemporary Latina/o Theater underscores the power of theatricality in exploring and rethinking ethnicity. Rossini provides the most in-depth analysis of these plays to date, offering a groundbreaking look at the ability of playwrights to correct misconceptions and create fresh perspectives on diversity, culture, and identity in Latina/o America.

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Contemporary Mormon Pageantry
Seeking After the Dead
Megan Sanborn Jones
University of Michigan Press, 2018
In Contemporary Mormon Pageantry, theater scholar Megan Sanborn Jones looks at Mormon pageants, outdoor theatrical productions that celebrate church theology, reenact church history, and bring to life stories from the Book of Mormon. She examines four annual pageants in the United States-the Hill Cumorah Pageant in upstate New York, the Manti Pageant in Utah, the Nauvoo Pageant in Illinois, and the Mesa Easter Pageant in Arizona. The nature and extravagance of the pageants vary by location, with some live orchestras, dancing, and hundreds of costumed performers, mostly local church members. Based on deep historical research and enhanced by the author's interviews with pageant producers and cast members as well as the author's own experiences as a participant-observer, the book reveals the strategies by which these pageants resurrect the Mormon past on stage. Jones analyzes the place of the productions within the American theatrical landscape and draws connections between the Latter-day Saints theology of the redemption of the dead and Mormon pageantry in the three related sites of sacred space, participation, and spectatorship. Using a combination of religious and performance theory, Jones demonstrates that Mormon pageantry is a rich and complex site of engagement between theater, theology, and praxis that explores the saving power of performance.
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Contemporary Plays by African American Women
Ten Complete Works
Edited by Sandra Adell
University of Illinois Press, 2015
African American women have increasingly begun to see their plays performed from regional stages to Broadway. Yet many of these artists still struggle to gain attention. In this volume, Sandra Adell draws from the vital wellspring of works created by African American women in the twenty-first century to present ten plays by both prominent and up-and-coming writers. Taken together, the selections portray how these women engage with history as they delve into--and shake up--issues of gender and class to craft compelling stories of African American life. Gliding from gritty urbanism to rural landscapes, these works expand boundaries and boldly disrupt modes of theatrical representation.

Selections: Blue Door, by Tanya Barfield; Levee James, by S. M. Shephard-Massat; Hoodoo Love, by Katori Hall; Carnaval, by Nikkole Salter; Single Black Female, by Lisa B. Thompson; Fabulation, or The Re-Education of Undine, by Lynn Nottage; BlackTop Sky, by Christina Anderson; Voyeurs de Venus, by Lydia Diamond; Fedra, by J. Nicole Brooks; and Uppa Creek: A Modern Anachronistic Parody in the Minstrel Tradition, by Keli Garrett.

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Creating the Self in the Contemporary American Theatre
Robert J. Andreach
Southern Illinois University Press, 1998

Combining his skills as both a professional reviewer of theatre and a literary critic, Robert J. Andreach finds himself in a unique position to provide coherence to what most observers perceive as an unrelated welter of contemporary theatrical experiences. Exploring the theatre from the 1960s to the present, he shows the various ways in which the contemporary American theatre creates a personal, theatrical, and national self.

Andreach argues that the contemporary American theatre creates multiple selves that reflect and give voice to the many communities within our multicultural society. These selves are fragmented and enclaved, however, which makes necessary a counter movement that seeks, through interaction among the various parts, to heal the divisions within, between, and among them.

In his examination of the contemporary theatre, Andreach demonstrates that the plays and the performance art of the feminist, African-American, Hispanic-American, Asian-American, and Native American theatres are equal to the works created within the dominant Eurocentric culture.

He then turns to comparable works created within the culture of what performance artist Karen Finley calls the "one male god," works that reflect the breakup of an old order. He discusses the experimental theatre, which turns to the imagination to reveal the nature of the self, and concludes with an examination of recent American works, pointing out in each either the presence or absence of resolution within the divisions of self.

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Curtain Calls
British and American Women and the Theater, 1660–1820
Mary A. Schofield
Ohio University Press, 1991

“I here and there o’heard a Coxcomb cry,
Ah, rot—’tis a Woman’s Comedy.”

Thus Aphra Behn ushers in a new era for women in the British Theatre (Sir Patient Fancy, 1678). In the hundred years that were to follow—and exactly those years that Curtain Calls examines—women truly took the theater world by storm.

For each woman who chose a career in the theater world of the eighteenth century, there is a unique tale of struggle, insult, success, good or bad fortune, disaster, seduction, or fame. Whether acting, writing, reviewing, or stage managing, women played a major, if frequently unacknowledged, role in the history of the theater from the late seventeenth through the early nineteenth centuries. From Alpha Behn’s earliest plays through the glorious celebrity of Sara Siddons, women molded the taste of the age and carved out in the theater one of the few available opportunities for independence and renown.

Not all the women who tried succeeded, of course, and even the best faced opposition as they challenged the male stronghold of playwriting and theater managing. Curtain Calls maps the new territory as these pioneering women staked it for their own; it chronicles their lives, their triumphs, and their losses.

We begin with Aphra Behn, whose first play was staged in 1670, and conclude in the early decades of the nineteenth century with Inchbald and Siddons. The one hundred and fifty years encompassed by their lives contain the careers of dozens of lesser–known women, a network, as Dr. Johnson would have it, encompassing both talent and tribulation.

Contributors include: Edward Langhans, Linda R. Payne, Pat Rogers, Maureen e. Mulvihill, Deborah Payne, Betty Rizzo, Ellen Donkin, Frances M. Kavenik, Jessica Munns, nancy Cotton, Edna L. Steevs, Doreen Saar, Jean B. Kern, Katherine M. Rogers, Constance Clark, William J. Burling, Judith Phillips Stanton, Douglas Butler, Rose Zimbardo, and the editors.

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Dark Matter
Invisibility in Drama, Theater, and Performance
Andrew Sofer
University of Michigan Press, 2013

Dark Mattermaps the invisible dimension of theater whose effects are felt everywhere in performance. Examining phenomena such as hallucination, offstage character, offstage action, sexuality, masking, technology, and trauma, Andrew Sofer engagingly illuminates the invisible in different periods of postclassical western theater and drama. He reveals how the invisible continually structures and focuses an audience’s theatrical experience, whether it’s black magic in Doctor Faustus, offstage sex in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, masked women in The Rover, self-consuming bodies in Suddenly Last Summer, or surveillance technology in The Archbishop’s Ceiling. Each discussion pinpoints new and striking facets of drama and performance that escape sight. Taken together, Sofer’s lively case studies illuminate how dark matter is woven into the very fabric of theatrical representation. Written in an accessible style and grounded in theater studies but interdisciplinary by design, Dark Matter will appeal to theater and performance scholars, literary critics, students, and theater practitioners, particularly playwrights and directors.

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Dreaming America
Popular Front Ideals and Aesthetics in Children's Plays of the Federal Theatre Project
Leslie Elaine Frost
The Ohio State University Press, 2013
Dreaming America: Popular Front Ideals and Aesthetics in Children’s Plays of the Federal Theatre Project by Leslie Elaine Frost traces how the tumultuous politics of the late 1930s shaped the stories and staging of federally funded plays for children. Indeed, children’s theater was central to the Federal Theatre Project’s vision of building a national theater. Frost argues that representations of the child and childhood in the FTP children’s plays stage the hopes and anxieties of a nation destabilized by both economic collapse and technological advances. A declining economy and the first stagnant birthrate in three centuries yoked the national economy to the individual family. Profound disagreements over appropriate models of education and parenting, as well as over issues of ethnicity and class, constituted fundamental arguments over democratic values and social norms.
 
Frost locates these plays within the immediate context of the production materials in the FTP archives, as well as within the broader culture of the Great Depression, drawing on disparate primary materials—from parenting magazines to strike literature to political journals—and referencing a range of popular events—from the Joe Louis/Max Schmeling fights to Hollywood movies.
 
As the focus of Depression-era adult anxieties and hopes and as the embodiment of vigor, dynamism, and growth, children carried symbolic value both as the future of America and as the America of the future. Frost examines representative plays’ connections to other media, culture, and politics to situate their singular trajectories in the social history of the Federal Theatre Project and Popular Front culture.
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Encuentro
Latinx Performance for the New American Theater
Edited by Trevor Boffone, Teresa Marrero, and Chantal Rodriguez
Northwestern University Press, 2019
This anthology has its origins in the Encuentro theater festival, which was produced by the Latino Theater Company in association with the Latinx Theatre Commons in Los Angeles in 2014. Encuentro means “an encounter,” and meetings form a core theme in these six groundbreaking plays, each prefaced by a critical introduction from a leading Latinx theater scholar.

Playwrights Ruben C. Gonzalez, José Torres-Tama, Rickerby Hinds, Mariana Carreño King, Javier Antonio González, and Evelina Fernández exhibit a wide range of aesthetic approaches, dramatic structures, and themes, ranging from marriage, gentrification, racial and gendered violence, migration, and the ever-present politics of the U.S.–Mexico border. There is power in the communal experience of creating, witnessing, and participating in theater festivals. This anthology is a testament to that power and seeks to document the historic festival as well as to make these works available to a wider audience.

Encuentro: Latinx Performance for the New American Theater addresses interests of general audiences committed to the performing arts; scholars and students of Latinx, gender, and ethnic studies; university, college, and high school theater programs; and regional theaters looking to diversify their programming.

 
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Entertaining the Nation
American Drama in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
Tice L. Miller
Southern Illinois University Press, 2007

In this survey of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American drama, Tice L. Miller examines American plays written before a canon was established in American dramatic literature and provides analyses central to the culture that produced them. Entertaining the Nation: American Drama in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries evaluates plays in the early years of the republic, reveals shifts in taste from the classical to the contemporary in the 1840s and 1850s, and considers the increasing influence of realism at the end of the nineteenth century.

Miller explores the relationship between American drama and societal issues during this period. While never completely shedding its English roots, says Miller, the American drama addressed issues important on this side of the Atlantic such as egalitarianism, republicanism, immigration, slavery, the West, Wall Street, and the Civil War.

In considering the theme of egalitarianism, the volume notes Alexis de Tocqueville’s observation in 1831 that equality was more important to Americans than liberty. Also addressed is the Yankee character, which became a staple in American comedy for much of the nineteenth century.

Miller analyzes several English plays and notes how David Garrick’s reforms in London were carried over to the colonies. Garrick faced an increasingly middle-class public, offers Miller, and had to make adjustments to plays and to his repertory to draw an audience.

The volumealso looks at the shift in drama that paralleled the one in political power from the aristocrats who founded the nation to Jacksonian democrats. Miller traces how the proliferation of newspapers developed a demand for plays that reflected contemporary society and details how playwrights scrambled to put those symbols of the outside world on stage to appeal to the public. Steamships and trains, slavery and adaptations of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and French influences are presented as popular subjects during that time.

Entertaining the Nation effectively outlines the civilizing force of drama in the establishment and development of the nation, ameliorating differences among the various theatergoing classes, and provides a microcosm of the changes on and off the stage in America during these two centuries.

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Experiments in Democracy
Interracial and Cross-Cultural Exchange in American Theatre, 1912-1945
Edited by Cheryl Black and Jonathan Shandell
Southern Illinois University Press, 2016
In the first half of the twentieth century, a number of American theatres and theatre artists fostered interracial collaboration and socialization on stage, behind the scenes, and among audiences. In an era marked by entrenched racial segregation and inequality, these artists used performance to bridge America’s persistent racial divide and to bring African American, Latino/Latina, Asian American, Native American, and Jewish American communities and traditions into the nation’s broader cultural conversation.
 
In Experiments in Democracy, edited by Cheryl Black and Jonathan Shandell, theatre historians examine a wide range of performances—from Broadway, folk plays and dance productions to scripted political rallies and radio dramas. Contributors look at such diverse groups as the Theatre Union, La Unión Martí-Maceo, and the American Negro Theatre, as well as individual playwrights and their works, including Theodore Browne’s folk opera Natural Man, Josefina Niggli’s Soldadera, and playwright Lynn Riggs’s Cherokee Night and Green Grow the Lilacs (the basis for the musical Oklahoma!). Exploring the ways progressive artists sought to connect isolated racial and cultural groups in pursuit of a more just and democratic society, contributors take into account the blind spots, compromised methods, and unacknowledged biases at play in their practices and strategies. Essays demonstrate how the gap between the ideal of American democracy and its practice—mired in entrenched systems of white privilege, economic inequality, and social prejudice—complicated the work of these artists.
 
Focusing on questions of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality on the stage in the decades preceding the Civil Rights era, Experiments in Democracy fills an important gap in our understanding of the history of the American stage—and sheds light on these still-relevant questions in contemporary American society. 
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Feminist Theories for Dramatic Criticism
Gayle Austin
University of Michigan Press, 1990

Feminist Theories for Dramatic Criticism provides a number of useful approaches for analyzing works for the stage from a feminist perspective. Each chapter outlines key feminist theories in a specific field, covering literary criticisms, anthropology, psychology, and film, and then applies these theories in a detailed criticism of one or two plays. Plays by Eugene O'Neill, Arthur Miller, Lillian Hellman, Jane Bowles, Sam Shepard, and Alice Childress—all produced after World War II—are reexamined through the lenses of feminist theorist Judith Fetterley, Gayle Rubin, Nancy Chodorow, and Laura Mulvey, each a key figure in her respective field.

The introduction provides a framework for the discussion of feminist dramatic criticism by presenting the multiple political perspectives within feminism. The contributions of black and lesbian feminists to the question of theory are explored, as are the evolutionary stages of feminist criticism as they have been occurring in other fields. Theater has been slower than most fields to move through these stages, and its trajectory thus far is briefly traced. For the sake of clarity, each of the central chapters treats theories from a particular discipline, but the conclusion reminds us that in practice the theories are most often combined.

The book will appeal to theater scholars and practitioners interested in finding their way into feminist theory for the first time, or in expanding their knowledge of its insights for use in teaching, research, and production. Those in women's studies and other fields will find it shows ways to include plays among the texts they analyze.

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Footpaths and Bridges
Voices from the Native American Women Playwrights Archive
Edited by Shirley A. Huston-Findley and Rebecca Howard
University of Michigan Press, 2011

Footpaths and Bridges celebrates the vitality and diversity of Native American women, collecting plays ranging from ETHNOSTRESS—a humorous take on art and identity politics—to the biographical musical Te Ata to a retelling of the Thanksgiving story from the Wampanoag perspective. The dramatic works are accompanied by critical commentary that illuminates Native American women’s theater practices and perspectives, highlighting the issues of heritage, identity, and changing lifestyles that the plays imaginatively tackle.

Featuring work from a wide array of tribes and geographic regions, the collection affords the artist, scholar, and general reader access to previously unheard voices that communicate the complexity and the diversity of the Native American experience. The far-ranging genres and content of the plays suggest the many possibilities for communicating the past and the present, the personal and the political, and the stunning kaleidoscope of Native American life and art.

“Often thoughtful provocateurs, Native American playwrights are frequently overlooked . . . eminently readable, and possibly performable, the plays [in this collection] examine colonization, generational differences, ‘ethnostress,’ and cultural identity.”
—Choice

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From Androboros to the First Amendment
A History of America's First Play
Peter A. Davis
University of Iowa Press, 2015
The story of America’s earliest extant play begins with a petty crime—a crime that would have passed largely unnoticed had it not been for one fact: it prompted a beleaguered royal governor of one of Britain’s colonies to lash out at his enemies by writing a biting satire. Androboros, A Bographical [sic] Farce in Three Acts (1715), is universally acknowledged as the first play both written and printed in America. Its significance stems not simply from its publication but from its eventual impact. The play inadvertently laid the foundation for one of the defining rights of the nation that would eventually emerge some seventy-five years later—the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, guaranteeing a free press and freedom of expression.

Androboros was not just the first of its kind, it was also ahead of its time in many ways, preceding the harsh political satires and farces of the later eighteenth century by some fifty years. Such plays served a small but essential role in promoting political thought among the colonists. Written by anonymous authors and passed from hand to hand, these short, crude, and often bawdy plays and dialogues were rarely acted due to their inflammatory lampoonery. Nevertheless, they provided an opportunity for disgruntled colonists to vent their grievances and promote their ideas to fellow citizens. The farces of the late eighteenth century drove home the meaning and message of the American Revolution.

Equally significant is that Androboros may have influenced a few of the key political discourses published in the 1730s, and these works in turn may well have shaped the future of the American political landscape for the next several decades and even into the modern era. But as a closet drama intended only to be read by close friends and political supporters, this play has languished as a minor footnote in American intellectual history. Scholarly research published to date has been, for the most part, inadequate and occasionally inaccurate. This study remedies that oversight, providing a full analysis as well as an annotated typescript and facsimiles of the original printing.
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The Goodman Theatre's Festival Latino
Six Plays
Henry D Godinez and Ramón H Rivera-Servera
Northwestern University Press, 2013
Drawn from the first ten years of the Goodman Theatre’s renowned biennial festival of Latino plays, the works in this collection expand the definition of Latino theater, resisting the confines of a particular language, locale, or assumed audience. Instead of focusing on similarities that outline the boundaries of Latino identity, these plays look outward, representing the multiplicity of actual Latino experience. The plays were written and performed sometimes in English and sometimes in Spanish; their stories are set in heterogeneous milieus; they’re directed at both Latino and non-Latino audiences; and they incorporate cultural or theatrical elements from vastly different traditions. As a group, these plays indicate the extraordinary range of the festival’s offerings and show how it has contributed to a more complex notion of what Latino theater is and can be.
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Hollywood's Tennessee
The Williams Films and Postwar America
By R. Barton Palmer and William Robert Bray
University of Texas Press, 2009

No American dramatist has had more plays adapted than Tennessee Williams, and few modern dramatists have witnessed as much controversy during the adaptation process. His Hollywood legacy, captured in such screen adaptations as A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Suddenly, Last Summer, reflects the sea change in American culture in the mid-twentieth century. Placing this body of work within relevant contexts ranging from gender and sexuality to censorship, modernism, art cinema, and the Southern Renaissance, Hollywood's Tennessee draws on rarely examined archival research to recast Williams's significance.

Providing not only cultural context, the authors also bring to light the details of the arduous screenwriting process Williams experienced, with special emphasis on the Production Code Administration—the powerful censorship office that drew high-profile criticism during the 1950s—and Williams's innovative efforts to bend the code. Going well beyond the scripts themselves, Hollywood's Tennessee showcases findings culled from poster and billboard art, pressbooks, and other production and advertising material. The result is a sweeping account of how Williams's adapted plays were crafted, marketed, and received, as well as the lasting implications of this history for commercial filmmakers and their audiences.

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I'm Black When I'm Singing, I'm Blue When I Ain't and Other Plays
Sonia Sanchez
Duke University Press, 2010
Sonia Sanchez is a prolific, award-winning poet and one of the most prominent writers in the Black Arts movement. This collection brings her plays together in one volume for the first time. Like her poetry, Sanchez’s plays voice her critique of the racism and sexism that she encountered as a young female writer in the black militant community in the late 1960s and early 1970s, her ongoing concern with the well-being of the black community, and her commitment to social justice. In addition to The Bronx Is Next (1968), Sister Son/ji (1969), Dirty Hearts (1971), Malcolm/Man Don’t Live Here No Mo (1972), and Uh, Uh; But How Do It Free Us? (1974), this collection includes the never-before-published dramas I’m Black When I’m Singing, I’m Blue When I Ain’t (1982) and 2 X 2 (2009), as well as three essays in which Sanchez reflects on her art and activism. Jacqueline Wood’s introduction illuminates Sanchez’s stagecraft in relation to her poetry and advocacy for social change, and the feminist dramatic voice in black revolutionary art.
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In Search of Our Warrior Mothers
Women Dramatists of the Black Arts Movement
La Donna L. Forsgren
Northwestern University Press, 2018

The Black Arts Movement (1965–76) consisted of artists across the United States deeply concerned with the relationship between politics and the black aesthetic. In Search of Our Warrior Mothers examines the ways in which black women playwrights in the movement advanced feminist and womanist perspectives from within black nationalist discourses. La Donna L. Forsgren recuperates the careers, artistic theories, and dramatic contributions of four leading playwrights: Martie Evans-Charles, J.e. Franklin, Sonia Sanchez, and Barbara Ann Teer. Using original interviews, production recordings, playbills, and unpublished manuscripts, she investigates how these women, despite operating within a context that equated the collective well-being of black people with black male agency, created works that validated black women's aspirations for autonomy and explored women's roles in the struggle for black liberation.

In Search of Our Warrior Mothers demonstrates the powerful contributions of women to the creation, interpretation, and dissemination of black aesthetic theory, thus opening an interdisciplinary conversation at the intersections of theater, performance, feminist, and African American studies and identifying and critiquing the gaps and silences within these fields.

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A Kind of Alaska
Women in the Plays of O'Neill, Pinter, and Shepard
Ann C. Hall
Southern Illinois University Press, 1993

In an effort to define what constitutes a feminist reading of literary works, Ann C. Hall offers an analytic technique that is both a feminist and a psychoanalytic approach, applying this technique to her study of women characters in the modern dramatic texts of Eugene O’Neill, Harold Pinter, and Sam Shepard.

This is the first study to treat these three writers in tandem, and while Hall uses the work of Jacques Lacan, Luce Irigaray, and other psychoanalytic feminist critics in her close readings of specific dramatic texts, she also brings in commentaries by critics, directors, performers, and historians. Her technique thereby provides us with a new and significant method for addressing female characters as written by male playwrights, a task that she argues is not only a valid and necessary part of feminist dramatic criticism but a part of theatrical production as well.

From Pinter’s play A Kind of Alaska, Hall extracts a metaphor for the patriarchal oppression of women, contextualizing such oppression through an examination of O’Neill’s madonnas, Pinter’s whores, and Shepard’s female saviors as they are represented in O’Neill’s Iceman Cometh, Long Day’s Journey into Night, and A Moon for theMisbegotten; Pinter’s Homecoming, No Man’s Land, Betrayal, and A Kind of Alaska; and Shepard’s Buried Child, True West, and A LieoftheMind.

Since the works of O’Neill, Pinter, and Shepard continue to be performed to popular acclaim, Hall hopes that a better understanding of the female characters in these plays will influence the performances themselves.

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La Voz Latina
Contemporary Plays and Performance Pieces by Latinas
Edited by Elizabeth C. Ramirez and Catherine Casiano
University of Illinois Press, 2011
Elizabeth C. Ramírez and Catherine Casiano bring together a collection of plays and performance pieces by innovative Latina playwrights. Surveying Latina theatre in the United States from the 1980s to the twenty-first century, the editors present works displaying a variety of forms, themes, and genres, expanding the field of Latina theatre while situating it in the larger spectrum of American stage and performance studies. Ramírez and Casiano provide historical context and a production history for each work and a biography of, and artistic statement from, each playwright.

Contributors: Yareli Arizmendi, Josefina Báez, The Colorado Sisters, Migdalia Cruz, Evelina Fernández, Cherríe Moraga, Carmen Peláez, Carmen Rivera, Celia H. Rodríguez, Diane Rodriguez, and Milcha Sanchez-Scott. The volume also includes commentary by Kathy Perkins and Caridad Svich.

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Lives in Play
Autobiography and Biography on the Feminist Stage
Ryan Claycomb
University of Michigan Press, 2014

Lives in Play explores the centrality of life narratives to women's drama and performance from the 1970s to the present moment. In the early days of second-wave feminism, the slogan was "The personal is the political." These autobiographical and biographical "true stories" have the political impact of the real and have also helped a range of feminists tease out the more complicated aspects of gender, sex, and sexuality in a Western culture that now imagines itself to be "postfeminist."

The book covers a broad range of texts and performances, from performance artists like Karen Finley, Holly Hughes, and Bobby Baker to playwrights like Suzan-Lori Parks, Maria Irene Fornes, and Sarah Kane. The book examines biography and autobiography together to link their narrative tactics and theatrical approaches and show the persistent and important uses of life writing strategies for theater artists committed to advancing women's rights and remaking women's representations.

Lives in Play argues that these writers and artists have not only responded to the vibrant conversations in feminist theory but also have anticipated and advanced these ideas, theorizing gender onstage for specific ends. Ryan Claycomb demonstrates how these performances work through tensions between performative identity and the essentialized body, between the truth value of life stories and the constructed nature of gender and narrative alike, and between writing and performing as modes of feminist representation.

The book will appeal to scholars in performance studies, women's studies, and literature, including those in the growing field of auto/biography studies.

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Living with Lynching
African American Lynching Plays, Performance, and Citizenship, 1890-1930
Koritha Mitchell
University of Illinois Press, 2012
Living with Lynching: African American Lynching Plays, Performance, and Citizenship, 1890–1930 demonstrates that popular lynching plays were mechanisms through which African American communities survived actual and photographic mob violence. Often available in periodicals, lynching plays were read aloud or acted out by black church members, schoolchildren, and families. Koritha Mitchell shows that African Americans performed and read the scripts in community settings to certify to each other that lynching victims were not the isolated brutes that dominant discourses made them out to be. Instead, the play scripts often described victims as honorable heads of households being torn from model domestic units by white violence.

In closely analyzing the political and spiritual uses of black theatre during the Progressive Era, Mitchell demonstrates that audiences were shown affective ties in black families, a subject often erased in mainstream images of African Americans. Examining lynching plays as archival texts that embody and reflect broad networks of sociocultural activism and exchange in the lives of black Americans, Mitchell finds that audiences were rehearsing and improvising new ways of enduring in the face of widespread racial terrorism. Images of the black soldier, lawyer, mother, and wife helped readers assure each other that they were upstanding individuals who deserved the right to participate in national culture and politics. These powerful community coping efforts helped African Americans band together and withstand the nation's rejection of them as viable citizens.

The Left of Black interview with author Koritha Mitchell begins at 14:00.

An interview with Koritha Mitchell at The Ohio Channel.

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Lucky 13
Short Plays about Arizona, Nevada, and Utah
Red Shuttleworth
University of Nevada Press, 1995
The nature of the Old and New West is fully reflected through dialects, beliefs, occupations, and actions in this collection of thirteen plays with complete stage directions. Set in Arizona, Nevada, and Utah from the mid-1800s to the present day and focusing on veterans, children, prostitutes, priests, the newborn, and newly dead, these one-acts written by playwrights who know the region give voice to those who created and continue to recreate the West. This collection of contemporary plays, written out of love and concern for the region, examines as never before the western myths rooted in the national psyche. The characters battle limits, deny fate, and seek new beginnings. The plays examine symptoms, pose questions, and seek answers about the past and present West.
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Medical Readers' Theater
A Guide and Scripts
Todd L. Savitt
University of Iowa Press, 2002
We have all had experiences with sickness, care giving, physicians, medical emergencies, hospitals, and doctors’ offices. Health concerns are not solely the domain of medical students, physicians, or nurses—we all deal with our personal well-being and the health of our loved ones on a daily basis. Sometimes these health problems cause us to consider larger social and ethical issues. How do we respond and relate to such matters? In order to help both lay people and medical professionals consider various health care issues, East Carolina University's Brody School of Medicine developed a medical readers' theater program. Compiled for the first time in a single text, Medical Readers’ Theater: A Guide and Scripts provides a vehicle for those who wish to engage in discussions among citizens and professionals about important, topical issues in contemporary medicine.
Consisting of fourteen readers’ theater scripts, a step-by-step guide to performing readers’ theater, and questions for post-performance discussions, this volume utilizes stories by William Carlos Williams, Susan Onthank Mates, Arthur Conan Doyle, Pearl Buck, and many more. Physician/patient relationships, organ donation, chronic illness, race and ethnicity, death and dying, and aging are just a few of the topics covered in this valuable text.
Medical Readers’ Theater can be used in classrooms, hospitals, libraries, or other community settings where citizens can consider views on issues of common concern in the medical world.
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Melodramatic Formations
American Theatre and Society, 1820-1870
Bruce A. Mcconachie
University of Iowa Press, 1992
The middle years of the nineteenth century were a time of dynamic artistic and social changes in America. Now, Melodramatic Formations is the first study to trace these changes in popular stage melodrama's production, dramatic form, and audience reception. Bruce McConachie shows how the theatrical mutability that characterized the years 1820 to 1870 is inextricably tied to the decline of elite paternalism and republicanism and the rise of bourgeois rationalism and respectability.
Taking a rigorous interdisciplinary approach, McConachie examines several historical regularities of production, genre, and audience. Here theatre (and its drama) has at long last been returned to its general culture, rather than being treated as an isolated phenomenon. Ultimately, he develops a new notion of a theatrical formation—a construct where groups of spectators and theatre performers produce each other as artists-to-be-experienced and audiences-to-be-entertained.
Throughout Melodramatic Formations McConachie illustrates how theatre both maintains and produces various ideologies; he convincingly shows that theatre is a major player in our social and cultural history. This book will be of interest to all in American studies, theatre history, and American cultural history.
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A Menopausal Gentleman
The Solo Performances of Peggy Shaw
Peggy Shaw
University of Michigan Press, 2011

"With classic butch finesse---that handsome combination of vulnerability and toughness---Peggy Shaw pieces together the challenges of growing up butch in the 1950s. Shaw is an engaging performer and inspired writer."
---Gay Community News

Obie-award-winning performer and writer Peggy Shaw has been playing her gender-bending performances on Off Broadway, regional, and international stages for three decades. Co-founder of the renowned troupe Split Britches, Shaw has gone on to create memorable solo performances that mix achingly honest introspection with campy humor, reflecting on everything from her Irish-American working-class roots to her aging butch body.

This collection of Shaw's solo performance scripts evokes a 54-year-old grandmother who looks like a 35-year-old man (in her classic Menopausal Gentleman); a mother's ambivalent ministrations to a daughter she treated like a son (in the raw You're Just Like My Father); Shaw's love for her biracial grandson, for whom she models masculinity (in the musically punctuated To My Chagrin); and a mapping of her body's long, bittersweet history (in the lyrical Must: The Inside Story, a collaboration with the UK's Clod Ensemble). The book also includes a selection of Shaw's other classic monologues and an extensive introduction by Jill Dolan, Professor of English and Theater and Dance at Princeton University and the blogger behind The Feminist Spectator website.

A volume in the series Triangulations: Lesbian/Gay/Queer Theater/Drama/Performance
Cover photos by Eva Weiss (top) and Robin Holland/robinholland.com (bottom).

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Method Acting and Its Discontents
On American Psycho-Drama
Shonni Enelow
Northwestern University Press, 2015

Method Acting and Its Discontents: On American Psycho-Drama provides a new understanding of a crucial chapter in American theater history. Enelow’s consideration of the broader cultural climate of the late 1950s and early 1960s, specifically the debates within psychology and psychoanalysis, the period’s racial and sexual politics, and the rise of mass media, gives us a nuanced, complex picture of Lee Strasberg and the Actors Studio and contemporaneous works of drama. Combining cultural analysis, dramaturgical criticism, and performance theory, Enelow shows how Method acting’s contradictions reveal powerful tensions inside mid-century notions of individual and collective identity.

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Mimetic Disillusion
Eugene O'Neill, Tennessee Williams, and U.S. Dramatic Realism
Anne Fleche
University of Alabama Press, 1997

Mimetic Disillusion reevaluates the history of modern U.S. drama, showing that at mid-century it turned in the direction of a poststructuralist "disillusionment with mimesis" or mimicry.


This volume focuses on two major writers of the 1930s and 1940s--Eugene O'Neill and Tennessee Williams--one whose writing career was just ending and the other whose career was just beginning. In new readings of their major works from this period, Long Day's Journey into Night, The Iceman Cometh, The Glass Menagerie, and A Streetcar Named Desire, Fleche develops connections to the writings of Jacques Derrida, Paul de Man, and Michel Foucault, among others, and discusses poststructuralism in the light of modern writers such as Bertolt Brecht, Antonin Artaud, and Walter Benjamin. Fleche also extends this discussion to the work of two contemporary playwrights, Adrienne Kennedy and Tony Kushner. The aim of Mimetic Disillusion is not to reject "mimetic" and "realistic" readings but to explore the rich complexities of these two ideas and the fruit of their ongoing relevance to U.S. theatre.
 

[more]

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Murder Most Queer
The Homicidal Homosexual in the American Theater
Jordan Schildcrout
University of Michigan Press, 2014
The “villainous homosexual” has long stalked America’s cultural imagination, most explicitly in the figure of the queer murderer, a character in dozens of plays. But as society’s understanding of homosexuality has changed, so has the significance of these controversial characters, especially when employed by LGBT theater artists themselves to explore darker fears and desires. Murder Most Queer examines the shifting meanings of murderous LGBT characters in American theater over a century, showing how these representations wrestle with and ultimately subvert notions of gay villainy.

Murder Most Queer works to expose the forces that create the homophobic paradigm that imagines sexual and gender nonconformity as dangerous and destructive and to show how theater artists—and for the most part LGBT theater artists—have rewritten and radically altered the significance of the homicidal homosexual. Jordan Schildcrout argues that these figures, far from being simple reiterations of a homophobic archetype, are complex and challenging characters who enact trenchant fantasies of empowerment, replacing the shame and stigma of the abject with the defiance and freedom of the outlaw, giving voice to rage and resistance.  These bold characters also probe the darker anxieties and fears that can affect queer lives and relationships.  Instead of sentencing them to the prison of negative representations, this book analyzes the meanings in their acts of murder, confronting the real fears and desires condensed in those dramatic acts.
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National Abjection
The Asian American Body Onstage
Karen Shimakawa
Duke University Press, 2002
National Abjection explores the vexed relationship between "Asian Americanness" and "Americanness” through a focus on drama and performance art. Karen Shimakawa argues that the forms of Asian Americanness that appear in U.S. culture are a function of national abjection—a process that demands that Americanness be defined by the exclusion of Asian Americans, who are either cast as symbolic foreigners incapable of integration or Americanization or distorted into an “honorary” whiteness. She examines how Asian Americans become culturally visible on and off stage, revealing the ways Asian American theater companies and artists respond to the cultural implications of this abjection.

Shimakawa looks at the origins of Asian American theater, particularly through the memories of some of its pioneers. Her examination of the emergence of Asian American theater companies illuminates their strategies for countering the stereotypes of Asian Americans and the lack of visibility of Asian American performers within the theater world. She shows how some plays—Wakako Yamauchi’s 12-1-A, Frank Chin’s Chickencoop Chinaman, and The Year of the Dragon—have both directly and indirectly addressed the displacement of Asian Americans. She analyzes works attempting to negate the process of abjection—such as the 1988 Broadway production of M. Butterfly as well as Miss Saigon, a mainstream production that enacted the process of cultural displacement both onstage and off. Finally, Shimakawa considers Asian Americanness in the context of globalization by meditating on the work of Ping Chong, particularly his East-West Quartet.

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Native American Performance and Representation
Edited by S. E. Wilmer
University of Arizona Press, 2009
Native performance is a multifaceted and changing art form as well as a swiftly growing field of research. Native American Performance and Representation provides a wider and more comprehensive study of Native performance, not only its past but also its present and future. Contributors use multiple perspectives to look at the varying nature of Native performance strategies. They consider the combination and balance of the traditional and modern techniques of performers in a multicultural world. This collection presents diverse viewpoints from both scholars and performers in this field, both Natives and non-Natives. Important and well-respected researchers and performers such as Bruce McConachie, Jorge Huerta, and Daystar/Rosalie Jones offer much-needed insight into this quickly expanding field of study.

This volume examines Native performance using a variety of lenses, such as feminism, literary and film theory, and postcolonial discourse. Through the many unique voices of the contributors, major themes are explored, such as indigenous self-representations in performance, representations by nonindigenous people, cultural authenticity in performance and representation, and cross-fertilization between cultures. Authors introduce important, though sometimes controversial, issues as they consider the effects of miscegenation on traditional customs, racial discrimination, Native women’s position in a multicultural society, and the relationship between authenticity and hybridity in Native performance.

An important addition to the new and growing field of Native performance, Wilmer’s book cuts across disciplines and areas of study in a way no other book in the field does. It will appeal not only to those interested in Native American studies but also to those concerned with women’s and gender studies, literary and film studies, and cultural studies.
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New Downtown Now
An Anthology Of New Theater From Downtown New York
Mac Wellman
University of Minnesota Press, 2006
At a time when most serious drama being written and produced for the American stage aspires only to mainstream acceptance and high-toned mediocrity, an innovative new generation of playwrights based in New York City has emerged, crafting works that challenge and undermine the conventional structure, language, and characterization of commercial theater while rejecting outdated notions of the avant-garde. New Downtown Now brings together ten new works that exemplify the playfulness, excitement, and possibilities of the theater. Characterized by fragmenting structure, hypnotic rhythms, kaleido-scopic imagery, unpredictable characters, and lyrical language, these plays resemble puzzles from which the writers are teasing revelations. Though disparate in subject matter and style, with characters ranging from a sushi chef to a soldier and settings from a taxicab to a live television broadcast, these highly original plays share a commitment to formal experimentation that places them beyond the psychological clichés of the majority and the cold condescension of postmodernism. The anthology includes Interim by Barbara Cassidy; Tragedy: a tragedy by Will Eno; Nine Come by Elana Greenfield; Shufu-Sachiko and Enoshima Island by Madelyn Kent; The Appeal by Young Jean Lee; The Vomit Talk of Ghosts by Kevin Oakes; Ajax (por nobody) by Alice Tuan; Apparition, an uneasy play of the underknown by Anne Washburn; Demon Baby by Erin Courtney.Mac Wellman is the author of numerous plays and the recipient of three Obie awards, most recently in 2003 for lifetime achievement. He is professor of playwriting at Brooklyn College. Young Jean Lee is a playwright and director, and member of the Obie award-winning company 13P. Jeffrey M. Jones is a playwright and curator of the Obie award-winning Little Theater at Tonic in New York.
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Nine Contemporary Jewish Plays
Edited by Ellen Schiff and Michael Posnick
University of Texas Press, 2005

Jewish theatre—plays about and usually by Jews—enters the twenty-first century with a long and distinguished history. To keep this vibrant tradition alive, the National Foundation for Jewish Culture established the New Play Commissions in Jewish Theatre in 1994. The commissions are awarded in an annual competition. Their goal is to help emerging and established dramatists develop new works in collaboration with a wide variety of theatres. Since its inception, the New Play Commissions has contributed support to more than seventy-five professional productions, staged readings, and workshops.

This anthology brings together nine commissioned plays that have gone on to full production. Ellen Schiff and Michael Posnick have selected works that reflect many of the historical and social forces that have shaped contemporary Jewish experience and defined Jewish identity—among them, surviving the Holocaust, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the lives of newcomers in America, Israel, and Argentina. Following a foreword by Theodore Bikel, the editors provide introductory explanations of the New Play Commissions and an overview of Jewish theatre. The playwrights comment on the genesis of their work and its production history.

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O'Neill's Shakespeare
Normand Berlin
University of Michigan Press, 1993

In O'Neill's Shakespeare , Normand Berlin explores the relationship of William Shakespeare and Eugene O'Neill through detailed, often surprising, intertextual readings of the two great playwrights' work. "Of course, it would have been impossible for O'Neill not to have been influenced by Shakespeare," acknowledges Berlin. But this is an influence of an unusual and extraordinary sort, "a family romance" that transcends their obvious differences—a romance that "takes in all O'Neill's life and art."

In the first book-length study of this crucial literary and dramatic relationship, Berlin probes far beyond the usual listing of allusions and references. This is the exploration of an "essential, basic, even natural" connection, in which Shakespeare is shown to have fundamentally shaped O'Neill's creative imagination. Following O'Neill's career chronologically, Berlin divides his study into two parts. The "first career" (culminating in Mourning Becomes Electra) is explored through recurring themes that evoke Shakespeare: the sea, black and white, and the family. O'Neill's "second career" (from Ah! Wilderness until the last plays) is examined through Shakespearean genre classifications: comedy, history, tragedy, and tragicomedy. Though always grounded in close textual readings, Berlin's analysis spirals outward to encompass O'Neill's artistic and psychological development and touches on the questions of tradition, transcendence, and human nature inevitably raised when such literary connections across history are drawn.

O'Neill's Shakespeare is more than a reminder that Shakespeare continues to haunt Western culture; it is a careful and fascinating analysis of a particular legacy in American drama. The book has insights to offer to specialists in Shakespeare and O'Neill, and to any reader interested in the transmission of ideas through Western culture. Berlin's study of the unconscious and conscious uses of Shakespeare by O'Neill provide a valuable new understanding of O'Neill's artistry. It is also an eloquent, thoughtful account that blends the transcendence of Shakespeare's influence with the particular ways in which every era must refashion Shakespeare so that "the past becomes the present."

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Performing America
Cultural Nationalism in American Theater
Jeffrey D. Mason and J. Ellen Gainor, Editors
University of Michigan Press, 2001
Performing America provides fresh perspectives on the development of visions of both America and "America"--that is, the actual community and the constructed concept--on a variety of theatrical stages. It explores the role of theater in the construction of American identity, highlighting the tension between the desire to categorize American identity and the realization that such categorical uniformity may neither be desirable nor possible.
The topics covered include the links between politics and the stage during the Federalist period, the appropriation of "Indian" artifacts, an exploration of early gender roles, and the metaphorical connections between the theater and western expansion. Other essays treat vaudeville's artistically colonized cultures; Chautauqua's attempt to homogenize culture and commercialize American ideals; W. E. B. Du Bois's pageant, The Star of Ethiopia, as a strategy for constructing "African-American" as "Other" in an attempt to promote a vision of black nationalism; and how theater was used to help immigrants form a new sense of community while joining the resident culture.
The collection then turns to questions of how various ethnic minorities through their recent theatrical work have struggled to argue their identities, especially in relation to the dominant white culture. Two final essays offer critiques of contrasting aspects of the American male.
Throughout, the collection addresses questions of marginality and community, exclusion and inclusion, colonialism and imperialism, heterogeneity and homogeneity, conflict and negotiation, repression and opportunity, failure and success, and, above all, the relationship of American stages at large. It will appeal to readers of a wide range of disciplines including history, American culture, gender studies, and theater studies.
Jeffrey D. Mason is Professor of Theatre, California State University, Bakersfield. J. Ellen Gainor is Associate Professor of Theatre Studies and Women's Studies, Cornell University.
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Performing Asian America
Race and Ethnicity on the Contemporary Stage
Josephine Lee
Temple University Press, 1998
At a time when Asian American theater is enjoying a measure of growth and success, Josephine Lee tells us about the complex social and political issues depicted by Asian American playwrights. By looking at performances and dramatic texts, Lee argues that playwrights produce a different conception of "Asian America" in accordance with their unique set of sensibilities.

For instance, some Asian American playwrights critique the separation of issues of race and ethnicity from those of economics and class, or they see ethnic identity as a  voluntary choice of lifestyle rather than an impetus for concerted political action. Others deal with the problem of cultural stereotypes and how to reappropriate their power. Lee is attuned to the complexities and contradictions of such performances, and her trenchant thinking about the criticisms lobbed at Asian American playwrights -- for their choices in form, perpetuation of stereotype, or apparent sexism or homophobia -- leads her to question how the presentation of Asian American identity in the theater parallels problems and possibilities of identity offstage as well.

Discussed are better-known plays such as Frank Chin's The Chickencoop Chinaman, David Henry Hwang's M. Butterfly, and Velina Hasu Houston's Tea, and new works like Jeannie Barroga's Walls and Wakako Yamauchi's 12-1-a.
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Performing Television
Contemporary Drama and the Media Culture
Elizabeth Klaver
University of Wisconsin Press, 2000
Is it possible today to understand current genres such as drama and theater without considering the influence of television? Elizabeth Klaver argues that television’s dominance of the entertainment industry demands a continual negotiation of subject position from all other cultural forms and institutions. By examining plays that incorporate televisual discourse—from cameras and monitors to televisual style and structure—Performing Television probes the turbulent relation contemporary drama has had to television and its negotiations for identity in a postmodern media culture.
    Klaver applies post-structuralist theories of subjectivity to drama while ranging through Beckett’s plays, National Hockey League games, “The Tonight Show,” gay and lesbian drama, minority drama, avant-garde performance, and the topics of theatrical paranoia, the mediatized Imaginary, and the spectatorial gaze.
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A Pillar of Fire to Follow
American Indian Dramas, 1808–1859
Priscilla Sears
University of Wisconsin Press, 1982
A Pillar of Fire to Follow concerns the Indian dramas, a series of popular, nineteenth-century American melodramas that deal with the interaction of Indians and Anglo-Europeans. Priscilla Sears has analyzed these works from a mythological point of view, concentrating on the myths of Indian and Anglo-European identity and destiny and the ways in which they relieve the guilt emanating from contemporary Indian policy and the symbolic betrayal of fathers.
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Playing Underground
A Critical History of the 1960s Off-Off-Broadway Movement
Stephen J. Bottoms
University of Michigan Press, 2004
"Scrupulously researched, critically acute, and written with care, Playing Underground will become a classic account of an era of hard-won free expression."
-William Coco

"At last---a book documenting the beginnings of Off-Off Broadway theater. Playing Underground is an insightful, illuminating, and honest appraisal of this important period in American theater."
-Rosalyn Drexler, author of Art Does (Not!) Exist and Occupational Hazard

"An epic movie of an epic movement, Playing Underground is a book the world has waited for without knowing it. How precisely it captures the evolution of our revolution! I am amazed by the book's scope and scale, and I bless its author especially for giving two greats, Paul Foster and H. M. Koutoukas, their proper, polar places, and for memorializing such unjustly forgotten masterpieces as Irene Fornes's Molly's Dream and Jeff Weiss's A Funny Walk Home. Stephen Bottoms's vivid evocation of the grand adventure of Off-Off Broadway has woken and broken my heart. It is difficult to believe that he was not there alongside me to breathe the caffeine-nicotine-alkaloid-steeped air."
-Robert Patrick, author of Kennedy's Children and Temple Slave


Few books address the legendary age of 1960s off-off Broadway theater. Fortunately, Stephen Bottoms fills that gap with Playing Underground---the first comprehensive history of the roots of off-off Broadway.

This is a theater whose legacy is still felt today: it was the launching pad for many leading contemporary theater artists, including Sam Shepard, Maria Irene Fornes, and others, and it was a pivotal influence on improv comedy and shows like Saturday Night Live.

Off-off Broadway groups such as the Living Theatre, La Mama, and Caffe Cino captured the spirit of nontraditional theater with their edgy, unscripted, boundary-crossing subjects. Yet, as Bottoms discovers, there is no one set of truths about off-off Broadway to uncover; the entire scene was always more a matter of competing perceptions than a singular, concrete reality.

No other author has managed to illuminate this shifting tableau as Bottoms does. Through interviews with dozens of the era's leading playwrights, performers, directors, and critics, he unearths a countercultural theater movement that was both influential and transforming-yet ephemeral and quintessentially of its moment.

Playing Underground will be a definitive work on the subject, offering a complete picture of an important but little-studied period in American theater.

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The Playwright at Work
Conversations
Rosemarie Tichler
Northwestern University Press, 2012

Rosemarie Tichler and Barry Jay Kaplan take us behind the scenes in conversations with thirteen of today’s most distinguished playwrights, including Tony Kushner, John Guare, Wallace Shawn, Suzan-Lori Parks, David Henry Hwang, and Sarah Ruhl. To familiarize the reader with the world of each playwright, Tichler and Kaplan introduce us to the environments in which the work happens, conducting their interviews in the playwright’s home, a dark theater, or a coffee shop. Topics of conversation range from the playwrights’ earliest memories of the theater to finding their unique voices, and from their working relationships with directors, actors, and designers to their involvement in the purely commercial aspects of their profession. Taken together, these conversations constitute a collectively taught master class in the art and craft of writing for the stage. 

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Playwrights for Tomorrow
A Collection of Plays, Volume 7
Arthur H. Ballet, EditorIntroduction by Arthur H. Ballet
University of Minnesota Press, 1971

Playwrights for Tomorrow was first published in 1971. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

This is the seventh volume in the series Playwrights for Tomorrow,which makes available collections of plays by dramatists who have participated in the program of the Office for Advanced Drama Research (O.A.D.R.) at the University of Minnesota. Arthur H. Ballet, the series editor, is the director of the O.A.D.R. Under the program of the O.A.D.R., promising playwrights are awarded grants and given the opportunity of having their plays produced by college, community, or experimental theatre groups.

In his introduction to this volume Professor Ballet comments on the experience and progress of the O.A.D.R. program. He points out that the playwrights included here represent the first full year of O.A.D.R. work with the theatres in various parts of the country. Previously the productions of the plays under the O.A.D.R. program had been limited to theatrical groups in or near Minneapolis and St. Paul.

The plays in this volume are Grace and George and God by Alexander Hierholzer, Assassin! by David Ball, Freddie the Pigeon by Seymour Leichman, Rags by Nancy Walter, The Orientals by Stephen Grecco, and Drive-In by David Kranes. Six delightful sketches by Mr. Leichman illustrate his play. Details about the initial productions of the plays and sidelights about the authors and their work are given by Professor Ballet in his introduction.

The locales for the premieres of these plays included Cincinnati's Playhouse in the Part, where two of the plays were given; the Firehouse Theatre in Minneapolis; Yale University's Drama School; the Theatre in the Round, Minneapolis; and the theatre at Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama.

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The Politics Of Life
edited by Velina Hasu Houston
Temple University Press, 1993

This anthology of work by three Asian American women playwrights—Wakako Yamauchi, Genny Lim, and Velina Hasu Houston—features pioneering contemporary writers who have made their mark in regional and ethnic theatres throughout the United States. In her introduction, Houston observes that the Asian American woman playwright is compelled "to mine her soul" and express the angst, fear, and rage that oppression has wrought while maintaining her relationship with America as a good citizen.

The plays are rich with cultural and political substance and have a feminist concern about women's spirit, intellect, and lives. They portray Asian and Asian American women who challenge the cultural and sexual stereotypes of the Asian female. Yamauchi's two plays deal with how easily a country can dishonor its citizens. In "12-1-A," a Japanese American family is incarcerated during World War II in an Arizona camp where Yamauchi herself was interned. "The Chairman's Wife" dramatizes the life of Madame Mao Tse Tung through the lens of events at Tien An Men Square in 1989. Lim's "Bitter Cane" is about the exploitation of Chinese laborers who were recruited to work the Hawaiian sugar cane plantations. In "Asa Ga Kimashita" ("Morning Has Broken"), Houston explores a Japanese woman's interracial romance in postwar Japan and the influence of traditional patriarchy on the lives of Japanese women.

These plays will entertain and enlighten, enrage and profoundly move audiences. With honesty, imagination and courage, each grapples with the politics of life.


In the series Asian American History and Culture, edited by Sucheng Chan, David Palumbo-Liu, Michael Omi, K. Scott Wong, and Linda Trinh Võ.

 

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Pragmatic Liberation and the Politics of Puerto Rican Diasporic Drama
Jon D. Rossini
University of Michigan Press, 2024
Pragmatic Liberation and the Politics of Puerto Rican Diasporic Drama explores the work of a unique group of playwrights—Puerto Rican dramatists writing in the United States—who offer a model of political engagement. As members of the Puerto Rican diaspora, they have a heightened awareness of the systematic discrimination and the colonial citizenship created by Puerto Rico’s territorial status. Pragmatic Liberation analyzes the work of established playwrights as well as work that has previously received little attention in the world of theater studies, including René Marqués’s Palm Sunday. The book demonstrates the strategies these playwrights use to model a nuanced way of moving toward liberation while being sensitive to the potential impact these actions might have on those closest to us. This is a crucially important model that needs more attention in our currently polarized political moment.
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Puro Teatro, A Latina Anthology
Edited by Alberto Sandoval-Sánchez and Nancy Sandoval Sternbach
University of Arizona Press, 2000
From plays produced on shoestring budgets in the 1970s to today's high-tech performance pieces, Latina theater has emerged as a vibrant art form whose time has come. This anthology showcases this dynamic new genre through the works of established playwrights such as Cherríe Moraga and Dolores Prida as well as talented new playwrights and performers who have emerged in the past decade such as Migdalia Cruz, Elaine Romero, and Monica Palacios.

Puro Teatro, A Latina Anthology includes a variety of theatrical genres: plays, performance pieces, puppet shows, innovative collaborations, and testimonials. It features previously unpublished plays from a broad range of experiences within the Latino/a community, including families and home, friends and community building, coming of age and empowerment, and sexual and ethnic identities. The editors' introduction provides a comprehensive survey of contemporary Latina theater, placing it in its theatrical context and examining its divergent roots. Puro Teatro, A Latina Anthology is the first book of its kind to reflect in print a diversified body of writing that turns the spotlight on some of America's most talented and prolific artists. A subsequent volume will complement this anthology with a theoretical, critical reading of Latina theater and performance.

CONTENTS
Full Length Plays
Botánica by Dolores Prida
Heart of the Earth: A Popul Vuh Story by Cherríe Moraga
The Fat-Free Chicana and the Snow Cap Queen by Elaine Romero

One-act Plays
Las nuevas tamaleras by Alicia Mena
And Where Was Pancho Villa When You Really Needed Him? by Silviana Wood
Fuschia by Janis Astor del Valle

Performance Pieces
Nostalgia Maldita: 1-900-MEXICO : A StairMaster Piece by Yareli Arizmendi
Good Grief, Lolita by Wilma Bonet
A Roomful of Men by Amparo García Crow
Describe Your Work by Monica Palacios

Testimonials
"Battle Worn," by Laura Esparza
"Dancing with the Voice of Truth," by María Mar
"Searching for Sanctuaries: Cruising through Town in a Red Convertible," by Diane Rodríguez
"Home, Desire, Memory: There Are No Borders Here," by Caridad Svich
"Tales of a South-of-the-Border/North-of-the-Stereotype Theatre Director, by Susana Tubert
"Catching the Next Play: The Joys and Perils of Playwriting," by Edit Villarreal

Full-Length Plays, Collaborative Works
Frida: The Story of Frida Kahlo by Migdalia Cruz and Hilary Blecher
Memorias de la revolución by Carmelita Tropicana and Uzi Parnes
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A Queer Sort of Materialism
Recontextualizing American Theater
David Savran
University of Michigan Press, 2003
In engaging, accessible prose, leading theater critic and cultural commentator David Savran explores the intersections between art and culture, offering smart, compelling interpretations of the economic and social contexts of theatrical texts and practices. Acknowledging theater's marginal status in U.S. culture, A Queer Sort of Materialism takes on "the trouble-makers--the ghost, closeted homosexual, masochist, drag king, Third World laborer, even the white male as victim"--who figure more prominently in theater than in other cultural forms. In impeccably researched and argued essays that range in subject matter from Rodgers and Hammerstein to Paula Vogel, from Suddenly Last Summer to Iron John, Savran uncovers the ways that such troublemakers both challenge and reinforce orthodox social practices.
The selections presented here are by turns entertaining, informative, sophisticated, and polemical, reflecting the author's dual citizenship as rigorous scholar and engaging theater critic. This book also provides a model for a kind of queer historical materialism that will prove useful to a wide range of disciplines, including theater and performance, gender and sexuality, queer/gay/lesbian/transgender studies, American studies, and popular culture.
David Savran is Professor of Theater, the Graduate Center, the City University of New York, and author of Cowboys, Communists, and Queers and Taking It Like a Man.
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Race and Role
The Mixed-Race Asian Experience in American Drama
Rena M. Heinrich
Rutgers University Press, 2023
Mixed-race Asian American plays are often overlooked for their failure to fit smoothly into static racial categories, rendering mixed-race drama inconsequential in conversations about race and performance. Since the nineteenth century, however, these plays have long advocated for the social significance of multiracial Asian people.
 
Race and Role: The Mixed-Race Experience in American Drama traces the shifting identities of multiracial Asian figures in theater from the late-nineteenth century to the present day and explores the ways that mixed-race Asian identity transforms our understanding of race. Mixed-Asian playwrights harness theater’s generative power to enact performances of “double liminality” and expose the absurd tenacity with which society clings to a tenuous racial scaffolding.
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Realism and the American Dramatic Tradition
William W. Demastes
University of Alabama Press, 1996

Any review of 20th-century American theatre invariably leads to the term realism. Yet despite the strong tradition of theatrical realism on the American stage, the term is frequently misidentified, and the practices to which it refers are often attacked as monolithically tyrannical, restricting the potential of the American national theatre.
This book reconsiders realism on the American stage by addressing the great variety and richness of the plays that form the American theatre canon. By reconsidering the form and revisiting many of the plays that contributed to the realist tradition, the authors provide the opportunity to apprise strengths often overlooked by previous critics. The volume traces the development of American dramatic realism from James A. Herne, the "American Ibsen," to currently active contemporaries such as Sam Shepard, David Mamet, and Marsha Norman. This frank assessment, in sixteen original essays, reopens a critical dialog too long closed.

Essays include:


  • American Dramatic Realisms, Viable Frames of Thought

  • The Struggle for the Real--Interpretive Con§ict, Dramatic Method, and the Paradox of Realism

  • The Legacy of James A. Herne: American Realities and Realisms

  • Whose Realism? Rachel Crothers's Power Struggle in the American Theatre

  • The Provincetown Players' Experiments with Realism

  • Servant of Three Masters: Realism, Idealism, and "Hokum" in American High Comedy


  •  


 
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Reimagining A Raisin in the Sun
Four New Plays
Rebecca Ann Rugg
Northwestern University Press, 2012

Winner, 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Drama
Winner, 2012 Tony Award for Best Play
Winner, 1974 National Book Award for Philosophy and Religion


In 1959, Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun energized the conversation about how Americans live together across lines of race and difference. In Reimagining “A Raisin in the Sun,” Rebecca Ann Rugg and Harvey Young bring together four contemporary plays—including 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Drama winner Clybourne Park—that, in their engagement with Hansberry’s play, illuminate the tensions and anxieties that still surround neighborhood integration.

Although the plays—Robert O’Hara’s Etiquette of Vigilance, Gloria Bond Clunie’s Living Green, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s Neighbors, and Bruce Norris’s Clybourne Park—are distinct from one another in terms of style and perspective on their predecessor, they commonly feature characters who are forced to closely examine, and sometimes revise or abandon, their ideas concerning race and their notions of social and economic justice. Above all, the plays use the lenses of neighborliness, privacy, and community to engage the large question of America’s common purpose. Each play is accompanied by an interview with the playwright about the influence of Hansberry’s landmark work. The afterword includes an interview with George C. Wolfe, whose play The Colored Museum laid the groundwork for the titles in this collection.

The conversation around A Raisin in the Sun has continued unabated since its premiere fifty years ago. Rugg and Young’s book will serve as a valuable resource to fans, scholars, and students alike.

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Resurrecting the First Great American Play
Imperial Politics and Colonial Ambitions in Frontier Detroit
Sämi Ludwig
University of Wisconsin Press, 2020
In the mid-eighteenth century, the Ottawa chief Pontiac (also spelled Ponteach) led an intertribal confederacy that resisted British power in the Great Lakes region. This event was immortalized in the play Ponteach, or the Savages of America: A Tragedy, attributed to the infamous frontier soldier Robert Rogers. Never performed, it is one of the earliest theatrical renderings of the region, depicting its hero in a way that called into question eighteenth-century constructions of Indigenous Americans.
Sämi Ludwig contends that Ponteach's literary and artistic merits are worthy of further exploration. He investigates questions of authorship and analyzes the play's content, embracing its many contradictions as enriching windows into the era. In this way, he suggests using Ponteach as a tool to better understand British imperialism in North America and the emerging theatrical forms of the Young Republic.
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Rowdy Carousals
The Bowery Boy on Stage, 1848-1913
J. Chris Westgate
University of Iowa Press, 2024
Rowdy Carousals makes important interventions in nineteenth-century theatre history with regard to the Bowery Boy, a raucous, white, urban character most famously exemplified by Mose from A Glance at New York in 1848. Theatrical representations of the Bowery Boy emphasized the privileges of whiteness against nonwhite workers including enslaved and free African Americans during the Antebellum Period, an articulation of white superiority that continued through the early twentieth century with Jewish, Italian, and Chinese immigrants.

The book’s examination of working-class whiteness on stage, in the theatre, and in print culture invites theatre historians and critics to check the impulse to downplay or ignore questions about race and ethnicity in discussion of the Bowery Boy. J. Chris Westgate further explores links between the Bowery Boy’s rowdyism in the nineteenth century and the resurgence of white supremacy in the early twenty-first century.
 
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Salmon is Everything
Community-Based Theatre in the Klamath Watershed
Theresa May with Susanne Burcell, Kathleen McCovey, and Jean O'Hara
Oregon State University Press, 2018
After a devastating fish kill on the Klamath River, tribal members and theatre artist Theresa May developed a play to give voice to the central spiritual and cultural role of salmon in tribal life. Salmon Is Everything presents the script of that play, along with essays by artists and collaborators that illuminate the process of creating and performing theatre on Native and environmental issues.

Salmon Is Everything simultaneously illuminates the logistics of a crisis in the third largest watershed in the Pacific Northwest—the premature death of more than 30,000 salmon on the Lower Klamath River in 2002—and documents what happened when one community decided to use art to amplify the experiences of its members. The fish kill had unprecedented impact throughout the watershed, and for many tribal communities it signified an ongoing loss of traditional cultural practices. But in the political and ecological upheaval that followed, the role of salmon in tribal life went largely unacknowledged, which inspired the collaboration between May and members of the Yurok, Hoopa Valley, and Karuk tribes, as well as farmers, ranchers, and others invested in the Klamath watershed.

Salmon is Everything will appeal to readers interested in the environmental and cultural history of the Pacific Northwest and the ecological and civil challenges its communities face. For artists and activists, it’s a useful case study. Salmon is Everything offers a unique interdisciplinary resource for high school and college level courses in environmental studies, Native American studies, and theatre arts education.

New materials in this second edition include additional essays by Native faculty and actors, an updated introduction by the author, minor textual corrections throughout, and a new online resource guide.
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Salmon Is Everything
Community-Based Theatre in the Klamath Watershed
Theresa May with Susanne Burcell, Kathleen McCovey, and Jean O'Hara
Oregon State University Press, 2014
After a devastating fish kill on the Klamath River, tribal members and theatre artist Theresa May developed a play to give voice to the central spiritual and cultural role of salmon in tribal life. Salmon Is Everything presents the script of that play, along with essays by artists and collaborators that illuminate the process of creating and performing theatre on Native and environmental issues.

Salmon Is Everything simultaneously illuminates the logistics of a crisis in the third largest watershed in the Pacific Northwest—the premature death of more than 30,000 salmon on the Lower Klamath River in 2002—and documents what happened when one community decided to use art to amplify the experiences of its members. The fish kill had unprecedented impact throughout the watershed, and for many tribal communities it signified an ongoing loss of traditional cultural practices. But in the political and ecological upheaval that followed, the role of salmon in tribal life went largely unacknowledged, which inspired the collaboration between May and members of the Yurok, Hoopa Valley, and Karuk tribes, as well as farmers, ranchers, and others invested in the Klamath watershed.

Salmon is Everything will appeal to readers interested in the environmental and cultural history of the Pacific Northwest and the ecological and civil challenges its communities face. For artists and activists, it’s a useful case study. Salmon is Everything offers a unique interdisciplinary resource for high school and college level courses in environmental studies, Native American studies, and theatre arts education.
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Say Word!
Voices from Hip Hop Theater
An Anthology Edited and with an Introduction by Daniel Banks
University of Michigan Press, 2011

The phenomenon known as Hip Hop encompasses a global, multiethnic, grassroots culture committed to social justice and self-expression through performance. Hip Hop Theater emerged from that culture, mixing spoken-word performance with music and dance and marked by Hip Hop's strong sense of activism and resistance. Hip Hop Theater is engaged with questions of identity – culture, heritage, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, and difference—narrating the experiences of historically marginalized peoples and putting them in dialogue with other oppressed communities.

Say Word! Voices from Hip Hop Theater collects eight works by contemporary artists who confront today's compelling issues, ranging from racial profiling and police brutality to women's empowerment and from the commercial exploitation of Hip Hop to identity politics. Editor Daniel Banks has assembled work by Abiola Abrams, Zakiyyah Alexander, Chadwick Boseman, Kristoffer Diaz, Rha Goddess, Antoy Grant, Joe Hernandez-Kolski, Rickerby Hinds, and Ben Snyder, augmented with an extensive introduction and other informative commentary. The book also includes a roundtable moderated by Holly Bass and featuring Hip Hop pioneers Eisa Davis, Danny Hoch, Sarah Jones, and Will Power, a conversation that traces the roots of Hip Hop Theater and imagines its future directions.

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Secrecy, Magic, and the One-Act Plays of Harlem Renaissance Women Writers
Taylor Hagood
The Ohio State University Press, 2010

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Seven Black Plays
The Theodore Ward Prize for African American Playwriting
Chuck Smith
Northwestern University Press, 2004
Awarded annually since 1987, the Theodore Ward Prize recognizes the outstanding individual accomplishments of African American playwrights, as well as their growing importance to the shape and direction of American drama in our time. This collection, edited by a director and educator who has been affiliated with the contest for fifteen of its seventeen years, showcases a selection of the award-winning plays and offers a rich and varied view of the best of two decades of evolving African American drama.

These seven plays, which span the Ward Prize's history, represent a wide range of talents, experience, and perspectives brought to bear on diverse themes, from a unique moment in the history of baseball's Negro League to a working-class couple contending with a neighborhood bully; from a child's memories of negotiating desegregation to coming of age amidst the ravages of racism, child abuse, and AIDS. By turns poetic and moving, brave and rousing, uproarious and unsettling, these works written by established and emerging playwrights allow actors, directors, theatergoers, and readers to sample the multifarious dramatic experience being limned by African American playwrights today.
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Seven Contemporary Plays from the Korean Diaspora in the Americas
Esther Kim Lee, ed.
Duke University Press, 2012
Showcasing the dynamism of contemporary Korean diasporic theater, this anthology features seven plays by second-generation Korean diasporic writers from the United States, Canada, and Chile. By bringing the plays together in this collection, Esther Kim Lee highlights the themes and styles that have enlivened Korean diasporic theater in the Americas since the 1990s. Some of the plays are set in urban Koreatowns. One takes place in the middle of Texas, while another unfolds entirely in a character's mind. Ethnic identity is not as central as it was in the work of previous generations of Asian diasporic playwrights. In these plays, experiences of diaspora and displacement are likely to be part of broader stories, such as the difficulties faced by a young mother trying to balance family and career. Running through these stories are themes of assimilation, authenticity, family, memory, trauma, and gender-related expectations of success. Lee's introduction includes a brief history of the Korean Peninsula in the twentieth century and of South Korean immigration to the Americas, along with an overview of Asian American theater and the place of Korean American theater within it. Each play is preceded by a brief biography of the playwright and a summary of the play's production history.
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Sex for Sale
Six Progressive-Era Brothel Dramas
Katie N. Johnson
University of Iowa Press, 2015
In early twentieth-century U.S. culture, sex sold.  While known mainly for its social reforms, the Progressive Era was also obsessed with prostitution, sexuality, and the staging of women’s changing roles in the modern era. By the 1910s, plays about prostitution (or “brothel dramas”) had inundated Broadway, where they sometimes became long-running hits and other times sparked fiery obscenity debates. In Sex for Sale, Katie N. Johnson recovers six of these plays, presenting them with astute cultural analysis, photographs, and production histories. The result is a new history of U.S. theatre that reveals the brothel drama’s crucial role in shaping attitudes toward sexuality, birth control, immigration, urbanization, and women’s work.

The volume includes the work of major figures including Eugene O’Neill, John Reed, Rachel Crothers, and Elizabeth Robins. Now largely forgotten and some previously unpublished, these plays were among the most celebrated and debated productions of their day.  Together, their portrayals of commercialized vice, drug addiction, poverty, white slavery, and interracial desire reveal the Progressive Era’s fascination with the underworld and the theatre’s power to regulate sexuality.  Additional plays, commentary, and teaching materials are available at brotheldrama.lib.miamioh.edu.
 
Plays included:
Ourselves (1913) by Rachel Crothers
The Web (1913) by Eugene O’Neill
My Little Sister (1913) by Elizabeth Robins
Moondown (1915) by John Reed
Cocaine (1916) by Pendleton King
A Shanghai Cinderella (renamed East is West, 1918) by Samuel Shipman and John B. Hymer
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Sistuhs in the Struggle
An Oral History of Black Arts Movement Theater and Performance
La Donna L. Forsgren
Northwestern University Press, 2020

Outstanding Academic Title, CHOICE

The first oral history to fully explore the contributions of black women intellectuals to the Black Arts Movement, Sistuhs in the Struggle reclaims a vital yet under-researched chapter in African American, women’s, and theater history. This groundbreaking study documents how black women theater artists and activists—many of whom worked behind the scenes as directors, designers, producers, stage managers, and artistic directors—disseminated the black aesthetic and emboldened their communities.

Drawing on nearly thirty original interviews with well-known artists such as Ntozake Shange and Sonia Sanchez as well as less-studied figures including distinguished lighting designer Shirley Prendergast, dancer and choreographer Halifu Osumare, and three-time Tony-nominated writer and composer Micki Grant, La Donna L. Forsgren centers black women’s cultural work as a crucial component of civil rights and black power activism. Sistuhs in the Struggle is an essential collection for theater scholars, historians, and students interested in learning how black women’s art and activism both advanced and critiqued the ethos of the Black Arts and Black Power movements.

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solo/black/woman
scripts, interviews, and essays
Edited by E. Patrick Johnson and Ramón H. Rivera-Servera and with a foreword by D. Soyini Madison
Northwestern University Press, 2013
The collection solo/black/woman features seven solo performances by emerging and established feminist performance artists from the past three decades. The scripts are accompanied by interviews and critical essays, as well as a DVD showcasing the performances. The performers range from Robbie McCauley and Rhodessa Jones, who were at the leading edge of the solo monologue boom of the 1980s, to new talents such as Stacey Robinson and Misty DeBerry. Collectively, their work displays an enormous range of aesthetic approach and thematic emphasis. The anthology offers a comprehensive, stimulating introduction to the beauty, richness, urgency, pleasure, and political promise of black feminist performance.
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Southern Women Playwrights
New Essays in History and Criticism
Edited by Robert McDonald and Linda Rohrer Paige
University of Alabama Press, 2001

This timely collection addresses the neglected state of scholarship on southern women dramatists by bringing together the latest criticism on some of the most important playwrights of the 20th century.

Coeditors Robert McDonald and Linda Rohrer Paige attribute the neglect of southern women playwrights in scholarly criticism to "deep historical prejudices" against drama itself and against women artists in general, especially in the South. Their call for critical awareness is answered by the 15 essays they include in Southern Women Playwrights, considerations of the creative work of universally acclaimed playwrights such as Beth Henley, Marsha Norman, and Lillian Hellman (the so-called "Trinity") in addition to that of less-studied playwrights, including Zora Neale Hurston, Carson McCullers, Alice Childress, Naomi Wallace, Amparo Garcia, Paula Vogel, and Regina Porter.

This collection springs from a series of associated questions regarding the literary and theatrical heritage of the southern woman playwright, the unique ways in which southern women have approached the conventional modes of comedy and tragedy, and the ways in which the South, its types and stereotypes, its peculiarities, its traditions-both literary and cultural-figure in these women's plays. Especially relevant to these questions are essays on Lillian Hellman, who resisted the label "southern writer," and Carson McCullers, who never attempted to ignore her southernness.

This book begins by recovering little-known or unknown episodes in the history of southern drama and by examining the ways plays assumed importance in the lives of southern women in the early 20th century. It concludes with a look at one of the most vibrant, diverse theatre scenes outside New York today-Atlanta.

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Spectacles of Reform
Theater and Activism in Nineteenth-Century America
Amy E. Hughes
University of Michigan Press, 2014

In the nineteenth century, long before film and television arrived to electrify audiences with explosions, car chases, and narrow escapes, it was America's theaters that offered audiences such thrills, with "sensation scenes" of speeding trains, burning buildings, and endangered bodies, often in melodramas extolling the virtues of temperance, abolition, and women's suffrage. In Spectacles of Reform , Amy E. Hughes scrutinizes these peculiar intersections of spectacle and reform, revealing that spectacle plays a crucial role in American activism. By examining how theater producers and political groups harnessed its power and appeal, Hughes suggests that spectacle was—and remains—central to the dramaturgy of reform.

Engaging evidence from lithographs to children's books to typography catalogs, Hughes traces the cultural history of three famous sensation scenes—the drunkard suffering from the delirium tremens, the fugitive slave escaping over a river, and the victim tied to the railroad tracks—assessing how they conveyed, allayed, and denied concerns about the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. These images also appeared in printed propaganda, suggesting that the coup de théâtre was an essential part of American reform culture. Additionally, Hughes argues that today's producers and advertisers continue to exploit the affective dynamism of spectacle, reaching an even broader audience through film, television, and the Internet.

To be attuned to the dynamics of spectacle, Hughes argues, is to understand how we see. Consequently, Spectacles of Reform will interest not only theater historians, but also scholars and students of political, literary, and visual culture who are curious about how U.S. citizens saw themselves and their world during a pivotal period in American history.

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A Stage of Their Own
Feminist Playwrights of the Suffrage Era
Sheila Stowell
University of Michigan Press, 1994

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Staging America
The Artistic Legacy of the Provincetown Players
Jeffery Kennedy
University of Alabama Press, 2023
A comprehensive history of the Provincetown Players and their influence on modern American theatre
 
The Provincetown Players created a revolution in American theatre, making room for truly modern approaches to playwriting, stage production, and performance unlike anything that characterized the commercial theatre of the early twentieth century. In Staging America: The Artistic Legacy of the Provincetown Players, Jeffery Kennedy gives readers the unabridged story in a meticulously researched and comprehensive narrative that sheds new light on the history of the Provincetown Players. This study draws on many new sources that have only become available in the last three decades; this new material modifies, refutes, and enhances many aspects of previous studies.

At the center of the study is an extensive account of the career of George Cram Cook, the Players’ leader and artistic conscience, as well as one of the most significant facilitators of modernist writing in early twentieth-century American literature and theatre. It traces Cook’s mission of “cultural patriotism,” which drove him toward creating a uniquely American identity in theatre. Kennedy also focuses on the group of friends he calls the “Regulars,” perhaps the most radical collection of minds in America at the time; they encouraged Cook to launch the Players in Provincetown in the summer of 1915 and instigated the move to New York City in fall 1916.

Kennedy has paid particular attention to the many legends connected to the group (such as the “discovery” of Eugene O’Neill), and also adds to the biographical record of the Players’ forty-seven playwrights, including Susan Glaspell, Neith Boyce, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Floyd Dell, Rita Wellman, Mike Gold, Djuna Barnes, and John Reed. Kennedy also examines other fascinating artistic, literary, and historical personalities who crossed the Players’ paths, including Emma Goldman, Charles Demuth, Berenice Abbott, Sophie Treadwell, Theodore Dreiser, Claudette Colbert, and Charlie Chaplin. Kennedy highlights the revolutionary nature of those living in bohemian Greenwich Village who were at the heart of the Players and the America they were responding to in their plays.
 
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Staging Black Fugitivity
Stacie Selmon McCormick
The Ohio State University Press, 2019
Staging Black Fugitivity asks: How does drama constitute an important site for ongoing conversations about slavery’s resonance and its legacies? To answer this question, Stacie Selmon McCormick charts the historical turn toward slavery in black drama that began in the last quarter of the twentieth century. This movement, spearheaded by August Wilson and Suzan-Lori Parks, has been largely under-theorized, yet it participates in and advances the neo-slave narrative genre—with contemporary black dramas enhancing the neo-slave narrative’s capacity to represent the visual, corporal, and affective dimensions of the black body and slavery as an institution.
 
McCormick traces the innovative ways that artists render slavery for present-day audiences. The dramas assembled in this book approach slavery from myriad perspectives—afrofuturist, feminist, and queer—in order to produce new imaginaries that offer more complex depictions of black experience. Through subverting notions of time, race, gender, and familiar histories of slavery themselves, the dramas under discussion produce performances of fugitivity—subversive, radical, and experimental performances of black artistic and political freedom at the site of slavery.
 
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Staging Consciousness
Theater and the Materialization of Mind
William W. Demastes
University of Michigan Press, 2002
Staging Consciousness argues that theater is a living invalidation of the Western dualism of mind and body, activating human consciousness through its embodiment of thought in performance. While consciousness theory has begun to find ways to bridge dualist gaps, Staging Consciousness suggests that theater has anticipated these advances, given the ways in which the physical theater promotes nonphysical thought, connecting the two realms in unique and ingenious ways.
William W. Demastes makes use of the writings of such varied theater practitioners as Antonin Artaud, Jerzy Grotowski, Samuel Beckett, Tony Kushner, Sam Shepard, Spalding Gray, Peter Shaffer, and others, illuminating theater as proof that mind is an extension of body. The living stage incubates and materializes thought in a way that highlights the processes of daily existence outside the theater. This book offers a new way for theater practitioners to look at the unique value of the theater and an invitation for philosophers and scientists to search for new paradigms in theater, the oldest of art forms.
William W. Demastes is Professor of English, Louisiana State University. His previous books include Theatre of Chaos: Beyond Absurdism, into Disorderly Order.
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Staging Desire
Queer Readings of American Theater History
Kim Marra and Robert A. Schanke, Editors
University of Michigan Press, 2002
Staging Desire gathers critical and biographical essays on notable stage personalities who made their mark before 1969, when the Stonewall riots accelerated the lesbian and gay rights movement in the United States. How they staged their unconventional sexualities greatly influenced the course of their personal and professional lives, and thus the course of American theater history. The book builds on an earlier collection--the well-received Passing Performances, which focused on actors, directors, producers, and agents--by examining playwrights, lyricists, critics, and designers. Shaping theatrical representations from offstage, these practitioners exploited the special opportunities theater offered as a complex and many-layered medium for expression of transgressive desire.
Essays cover the careers of major figures Clyde Fitch, Rachel Crothers, Mercedes de Acosta, Djuna Barnes, Cole Porter, Lorenz Hart, George Kelly, William Inge, James "Acorn" Oaks, Adam "Vagabond" Badeau, Eric Bentley, Loie Fuller, Robert Edmond Jones, and Jean Rosenthal. Grounded in research into the history of sexuality, the book engages central problems of terminology and evidence in analyzing sexual practices of the past and the modes of articulation of sexuality in theater, conditioned by American culture's peculiar anxieties about both.
Kim Marra is Associate Professor of Theatre Arts, University of Iowa. Robert A. Schanke is Professor of Theatre, Central College, Iowa. They edited Passing Performances: Queer Readings of Leading Players in American Theater History, a previous volume in this series.
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Tarell Alvin McCraney
Theater, Performance, and Collaboration
Edited by Sharrell D. Luckett, David Román, and Isaiah Matthew Wooden
Northwestern University Press, 2020
This is the first book to dedicate scholarly attention to the work of Tarell Alvin McCraney, one of the most significant writers and theater-makers of the twenty-first century. Featuring essays, interviews, and commentaries by scholars and artists who span generations, geographies, and areas of interest, the volume examines McCraney’s theatrical imagination, his singular writerly voice, his incisive cultural critiques, his stylistic and formal creativity, and his distinct personal and professional trajectories.
 
Contributors consider McCraney’s innovations as a playwright, adapter, director, performer, teacher, and collaborator, bringing fresh and diverse perspectives to their observations and analyses. In so doing, they expand and enrich the conversations on his much-celebrated and deeply resonant body of work, which includes the plays Choir Boy, Head of Passes, Ms. Blakk for President, The Breach, Wig Out!, and the critically acclaimed trilogy The Brother/Sister Plays: In the Red and Brown Water, The Brothers Size, and Marcus; Or the Secret of Sweet, as well as the Oscar Award–winning film Moonlight, which was based on his play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue.
 
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Teatro Chicana
A Collective Memoir and Selected Plays
Edited by Laura E. Garcia, Sandra M. Gutierrez, and Felicitas Nuñez
University of Texas Press, 2008

Winner, Susan Koppelman Award, Best Edited Volume in Women's Studies in Popular and American Culture, 2008

The 1970s and 1980s saw the awakening of social awareness and political activism in Mexican-American communities. In San Diego, a group of Chicana women participated in a political theatre group whose plays addressed social, gender, and political issues of the working class and the Chicano Movement. In this collective memoir, seventeen women who were a part of Teatro de las Chicanas (later known as Teatro Laboral and Teatro Raíces) come together to share why they joined the theatre and how it transformed their lives. Teatro Chicana tells the story of this troupe through chapters featuring the history and present-day story of each of the main actors and writers, as well as excerpts from the group's materials and seven of their original short scripts.

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Ten Thousand Nights
Highlights from 50 Years of Theatre-Going
Marvin Carlson
University of Michigan Press, 2017
Esteemed scholar and theater aficionado Marvin Carlson has seen an unsurpassed number of theatrical productions in his long and distinguished career. Ten Thousand Nights is a lively chronicle of a half-century of theatre-going, in which Carlson recalls one memorable production for each year from 1960 to 2010.  These are not conventional reviews, but essays using each theatre experience to provide an insight into the theatre and theatre-going at a particular time.  The range of performances covered is broad, from edgy experimental fare to mainstream musicals, most of them based in New York but with stops at major theatre events in Paris, Berlin, Moscow, Milan, and elsewhere. The engagingly written pieces convey a vivid sense not only of each production but also of the particular venue, neighborhood, and cultural context, covering nearly all significant movements, theatre artists, and groups of the late twentieth century. 
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Theaters of the Everyday
Aesthetic Democracy on the American Stage
Jacob Gallagher-Ross
Northwestern University Press, 2018
Theaters of the Everyday: Aesthetic Democracy on the American Stage reveals a vital but little-recognized current in American theatrical history: the dramatic representation of the quotidian and mundane. Jacob Gallagher-Ross shows how twentieth-century American theater became a space for negotiating the demands of innovative form and democratic availability.

Offering both fresh reappraisals of canonical figures and movements and new examinations of theatrical innovators, Theaters of the Everyday reveals surprising affinities between artists often considered poles apart, such as John Cage and Lee Strasberg, and Thornton Wilder and the New York experimentalist Nature Theater of Oklahoma. Gallagher-Ross persuasively shows how these creators eschew conventional definitions of dramatic action and focus attention on smaller but no less profound dramas of perception, consciousness, and day-to-day life.

Gallagher-Ross traces some of the intellectual roots of the theater of the everyday to American transcendentalism, with its pragmatic process philosophy as well as its sense of ordinary experience as the wellspring of aesthetic awareness.
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Time Slips
Queer Temporalities, Contemporary Performance, and the Hole of History
Jaclyn I. Pryor
Northwestern University Press, 2017
This bold book investigates how performance can transform the way people perceive trauma and memory, time and history. Jaclyn I. Pryor introduces the concept of "time slips," moments in which past, present, and future coincide, moments that challenge American narratives of racial and sexual citizenship.
 
Framing performance as a site of resistance, Pryor analyzes their own work and that of four other queer artists—Ann Carlson, Mary Ellen Strom, Peggy Shaw, and Lisa Kron—between 2001 and 2016. Pryor illuminates how each artist deploys performance as a tool to render history visible, trauma recognizable, and transformation possible by laying bare the histories and ongoing systems of violence woven deep into our society. Pryor also includes a case study that examines the challenges of teaching queer time and queer performance within the academy in what Pryor calls a post-9/11 “homeland” security state.
 
Masterfully synthesizing a wealth of research and experiences, Time Slips will interest scholars and readers in the fields of theater and performance studies, queer studies, and American studies.
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Unbroken Thread
An Anthology of Plays by Asian American Women
Roberta Uno
University of Massachusetts Press, 1993
This book contains plays by Genny Lim (Paper Angels,) Wakako Yamauchi (The MusicLessons,) Momoko Iko (Gold Watch,) Velina Hasu Houston (Tea,) Jeannie Barroga (Walls,) and Elizabeth Wong (Letters to a Student Revolutionary.) The volume includes an extended introduction, a profile of each playwright, and an appendix. The six plays of this anthology represent some of the best dramatic literature written by Asian American women since the 1970s. Each is a groundbreaking work and addresses in its own way the experiences of Asians in America. All six playwrights are American-born daughters of Asian immigrants, and their voices span the genres of naturalism, impressionism, ritual drama, postmodern collage, and media-influenced episodic drama.
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Victory Gardens Theater Presents
Seven New Plays from the Playwrights Ensemble
Sandy Shinner
Northwestern University Press, 2006
In 2001, Victory Gardens Theater received the Tony Award for Regional Theatre and was hailed by the Wall Street Journal as "one of the country's most important playwrights' theaters." This recognition helped the theater take its rightful place alongside Chicago's world-class local theaters. Nearly 250 plays have been produced at Victory Gardens since it was founded in 1974. More than half of these plays have been world premieres, many of which have gone on to national success. This theater's commitment to producing primarily new plays, most by Chicago authors, makes it a unique and exciting institution.

This collection features seven plays by talented authors from the twelve-member Playwrights Ensemble at Victory Gardens. Their works tackle a wide range of topics from a colorful and imaginative retelling of the Medea legend set in the Carribbean to the desperation and regret that can fill a high-school reunion, from a feisty stroke-survivor claiming her independence to a historical drama about the first free man of color to attend Ohio University. Whether focusing on the drama between the four walls of a home or testing the broader realms of culture, history, and politics, the Victory Gardens Theater has always encouraged diverse perspectives and supported original work. Victory Gardens Theater Presents showcases some of the best examples of the distinctive talent that continues to find a home there.
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Voices Made Flesh
Performing Women'S Autobiography
Lynn C. Miller
University of Wisconsin Press, 2003

Fourteen bold, dynamic, and daring women take the stage in this collection of women's lives and stories. Individually and collectively, these writers and performers speak the unspoken and perform the heretofore unperformed.

The first section includes scripts and essays about performances of the lives of Gertrude Stein, Georgia O'Keeffe, Mary Church Terrell, Charlotte Cushman, Anaïs Nin, Calamity Jane, and Mary Martin. The essays consider intriguing interpretive issues that arise when a woman performer represents another woman's life. In the second section, seven performers—Tami Spry, Jacqueline Taylor, Linda Park-Fuller, Joni Jones, Terri Galloway, Linda M. Montano, and Laila Farah—tell their own stories. Ranging from narrrative lectures (sometimes aided by slides and props) to theatrical performances, their works wrest comic and dramatic meaning from a world too often chaotic and painful. Their performances engage issues of sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, loss of parent, disability, life and death, and war and peace. The volume as a whole highlights issues of representation, identity, and staging in autobiographical performance. It examines the links among theory and criticism of women's autobiography, feminist performance theory, and performance practice.

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The Women of Provincetown, 1915–1922
Cheryl Black
University of Alabama Press, 2001
An illuminating account of the roles a remarkable group of women played in one of the most influential theatre groups in America, demonstrating their influence on 20th-century dramaturgy and culture.

In this fascinating work, Cheryl Black reveals that, in addition to its role in developing an American tradition of non-commercial theatre, Provincetown has another, largely unacknowledged claim to fame as one of the first theatre companies in America in which women achieved prominence in every area of operation. At a time when women playwrights were rare, women directors rarer, and women scenic designers unheard of, Provincetown’s female members excelled in all of these roles.

In addition to the well-known playwright Susan Gaspell, the company’s female membership included luminaries such poets Edna St. Vincent Millay, Mina Loy, and Djuna Barnes; journalists Louise Bryant and Mary Heaton Vorce; novelists Neith Boyce and Evelyn Scott; and painter Marguerite Zorach. Illuminating a fascinating chapter in the history of one of the world's most picturesque and beloved artist colonies, The Women of Provincetown is an engaging work of social history, offering new insights into the relationship between gender and theatre. This work includes 40 images of the key artists in the book.

 
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Women Writing Plays
Three Decades of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize
Edited by Alexis Greene
University of Texas Press, 2006

Women's playwriting burgeoned in the United States and the United Kingdom as part of the feminist movement of the 1970s. Ever since, playwriting women have been embracing new subjects, experimenting with form, and devising new ways of looking at the world. To honor their achievements and inspire future endeavors, the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize was established in memory of an American actor, journalist, and feminist who died of breast cancer. In the nearly three decades of the award's existence, more than three hundred English-speaking women playwrights have been finalists for the Blackburn Prize in recognition of their work, including such prominent writers as Marsha Norman, Cheryl L. West, Wendy Wasserstein, Caryl Churchill, Paula Vogel, and Suzan-Lori Parks.

This volume offers a comprehensive overview of women's playwriting, as well as a celebration of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. It combines critical essays, playwrights' memoirs, and conversations and interviews with playwrights to explore how women's playwriting evolved in relation to the women's movement and how it continues to map new territory and find fresh modes of expression. The majority of contributors to this volume—playwrights, arts journalists, and theater critics—have had some connection to the Blackburn Prize, either as award recipients, play readers, or judges. The memoirs, conversations, and interviews come from some of the finest women playwrights of the last three decades. These dramatists offer fascinating insight into the playwriting art, theatrical careers, and women's goals in writing for the theater.

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Worldmaking
Race, Performance, and the Work of Creativity
Dorinne Kondo
Duke University Press, 2018
In this bold, innovative work, Dorinne Kondo theorizes the racialized structures of inequality that pervade theater and the arts. Grounded in twenty years of fieldwork as dramaturg and playwright, Kondo mobilizes critical race studies, affect theory, psychoanalysis, and dramatic writing to trenchantly analyze theater's work of creativity as theory: acting, writing, dramaturgy. Race-making occurs backstage in the creative process and through economic forces, institutional hierarchies, hiring practices, ideologies of artistic transcendence, and aesthetic form. For audiences, the arts produce racial affect--structurally over-determined ways affect can enhance or diminish life. Upending genre through scholarly interpretation, vivid vignettes, and Kondo's original play, Worldmaking journeys from an initial romance with theater that is shattered by encounters with racism, toward what Kondo calls reparative creativity in the work of minoritarian artists Anna Deavere Smith, David Henry Hwang, and the author herself. Worldmaking performs the potential for the arts to remake worlds, from theater worlds to psychic worlds to worldmaking visions for social transformation.
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