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Theatre Essays

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The five central characters Essay

Eric was the next character involved; he took advantage of Eva and slept with her. When Eva became pregnant he stole money from his father’s business to give to her and when she found out about it, she refused to take any more. “She told me she was going to have a baby… I was…

Who Is Inspector Goole? Essay

The first thing I notice about Inspector Goole is his name and the fact it sounds just the same as ‘Ghoul’. This suggests at the beginning of the play that he is going to be a mysterious character. The first extremely mysterious action he takes in the play, is the fact that he claims to…

Abe’s global vision Essay

The play’s an absolute roller-coaster ride–like riding squalls coming across the sea. If we get it right, it should make the audience’s hair stand on end.” That’s actor Sam Waterston’s judgment about Abe Lincoln in Illinois, Robert Sherwood’s Pulitzer-winning play of 1938. Waterston plays the eponymous role at New York’s Lincoln Center Theater through Jan….

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Barbara Damashek: a moving target Essay

When Quilters hit the regional theatre circuit a decade ago, it sent Barbara Damashek on what she describes as a “creative roller-coaster ride.” “It was one of those life-changing moments when you take a major creative leap,” she says now, sitting in her small sunny cottage in the Berkeley hills, with a tomcat and a…

Charles Busch: some kind of diva Essay

Innocence” isn’t something you’d expect to be thinking about if you were to find yourself sitting amidst the opulent fin-desiecle passementerie that fills the sitting room of New York’s best-loved theatrical drag performer, chatting about his recent experience playing the female lead in The Maids, Jean Genet’s transvestite drama of madness, envy and murder. Yet…

Diamanda Galas: in the rough Essay

It is by now a well-worn cliche that a particular artist “defies all categories.” But in the case of Diamanda Galas, that description seems overwhelmingly apt. The fact is that Galas has based a 20-year solo career on performances about resisting categories, regarding them as “the confining ways that the dominant order names you, isolates…

The Treasure In The Forest written Essay

I am going to study the setting and atmosphere of three short stories written in the Victorian era, I will attempt to understand how the Victorian society was based on these texts. Sikes and Nancy written by CHARLES DICKENS in 1869, The Black Cottage written by WILKIE COLLINS in 1859 and The Treasure In The…

Dodson’s dilemma Essay

Owen Dodson never got his big break. An exceptionally talented writer and director, Dodson hobnobbed with the movers and shakers of the black intelligentsia from W.E.B. du Bois to James Baldwin and inspired younger generations of black poets and artists. Yet Dodson, a professor of drama at Howard University for 25 years, never became a…

Let me infotain you Essay

“If you haven’t been back to Broadway for a while, this is the show to see!” Sound like the words of a critic who’s dying to see his or her name in the print ads? Not quite–it’s the sign-off of a TV special put together by WNYW, the Fox affiliate in New York. The line…

Ways to stage old chestnut Hamlet by Aaron Beall Essay

How many ways are there to stage that old chestnut Hamlet? In more ways “than are dreamt of in your philosophy,” according to Aaron Beall, executive director of New York City’s NADA Inc. A four-month marathon of more than 20 different Hamlets–productions featuring rap, video, pantomime and even animal acts–will all fret their hours upon…

Occupational Hazard Essay

If the play’s the thing, what’s the play script good for? Aside from replenishing the arid reservoir of audition monologues and testifying to a play’s critical or box-office success, if we’re lucky, the printed text is as good as literature. It can be ruminated on like a volume of poetry. And when gathered and bound…

Tangible ghosts Essay

STRATFORD-UPON-AVON: “An open drain,” “unutterably offensive,” “repulsive and degrading,” “garbage and offal” these were typical of the critics’ comments on Ibsen’s Ghosts when it opened in London in 1891. William Archer, one of the playwright’s most fervent admirers (and his translator) collated the horrendous reviews and called them a “shriek of execration.” In these more…

The ‘how’ of funny Essay

It’s Wednesday night at Chicago’s most venerable coffeehouse, the No Exit. An improv group called Bang Bang has been playing here late on Wednesdays. They’re supposed to be hot. They’re supposed to be good. They’re supposed to have an interesting approach. The Chicago Tribune ran a friendly piece about them in the Sunday arts section….

The gospel according to Black Elk Essay

“My friend, I am going to tell you the story of my life, as you wish; and if it were only the story of my life I think I would not tell it; for what is one man that he should make much of his winters, even when they bend him like a heavy snow?…

To have or have not Essay

During the recent glorious days of Indian Summer, President and Mrs. Clinton hosted two days of celebration honoring 18 recipients of the National Medal of Arts and the Charles Frankel Prize in the Humanities. The ceremony on the White House lawn, the evening reception which followed, and the lunch the next day at which Jane…

Welcome to El Paso Essay

Simply put, it’s an American Dream story: The Santos brothers, sons of Mexican immigrants, grow up to become attorneys, establish a successful law firm and wield power in their hometown of El Paso, Tex. They also run a drug ring, indulge a penchant for high-stakes gambling and commit murder in the most horrific ways imaginable…

A Most Remarkable Fella: Frank Loesser and the Guys and Dolls in His Life Essay

Between the world wars, style was in ascendance and musical comedy was so central to popular culture that a composer’s name could sum up an attitude toward life. This was particularly true of Noel Coward and Cole Porter, and not just because they wrote words as well as music. They were the supreme practitioners of…

Amy Hill: a double agent with personalities to spare Essay

As Amy Hill explains it, the Japanese language uses deep feeling to slice through contradictions. Her Japanese dictionary defines the word “shibui,” for instance, as sulen; an astringent; tasty; a trained voice…. “Hear the contradictions?” she asks me. “In Japanese you have to experience the word to understand it.” Hill believes that in order to…

Andrei Serban: educating Prosperos Essay

Andrei Serban, looking remarkably youthful at 50 in his black jeans and crewneck sweater, darts out of his office at Columbia University, where a year-and-a-half ago he was hired as head of the Oscar Hammerstein Center for Theatre Arts. Thin, edgy, sporting a neat beard and shaggy brown hair, the Romanian-born director motions to a…

Beneath the plumage Essay

The Tale of the Green Bird is the most daring play that ever issued from my inkwell,” declared Carlo Gozzi, the 18th-century Italian fabulist. “Daring” is a relative term, of course. But when the dizzyingly original Gozzi claims something as his most daring work, that really says something. And yet chances are that audiences don’t…

Bill Womack: a trustee first Essay

Bill Womack is used to being a “first.” As a person of color in the largely white profession of child psychiatry, he’s accustomed to breaking new ground. Still, he wasn’t quite prepared for the overwhelming isolation he felt when he joined the board of directors at Seattle’s A Contemporary Theatre in 1987. “I had no…

Dancing with diablo: an international education in collaboration Essay

“Here’s how you meet Diablomundo,” rumbles cultural impresario Philip Arnoult of Baltimore Theatre Project,proffering a small brown cup of murky leaves penetrated by a delicately detailed silver straw. A tentative sip draws a dose of pungent South American tea called mate–a staple of the Argentinean theatre troupe, whose six members constantly circulate the cup among…

Dickenz in the ‘hood Essay

When you rip your heart out of your chest in the Fichandler Theatre at Arena Stage, you don’t just yank it out and drop it on the bed–especially if you are the ghost of Jacob Marley and you’ve been dead for seven years, and it’s Christmas Eve. And even though the stage directions only say,…

Elizabeth Smith: articulating the actor Essay

George Bernard Shaw once wrote of Henry Higgins in Pygmalion, “The reformer we need most today is an energetic phonetic enthusiast: that is why I have made such a one the hero of a popular play.” Today, Shaw’s hero could easily be Elizabeth Smith. For more than 30 years, Smith, a vocal consultant and dialect…

Jewel Walker: body talk Essay

The 40-odd students in the professional theatre training program at the University of Delaware are sprawled across the floor of what was once a women’s gym, waiting to begin the daily ritual of their group warmup. It’s 9:00 a.m. on a chilly November morning, and among the students who are stretching and chatting are many…

Kiss of the Spider Woman Essay Thesis

In some sports and intellectual pursuits, results are evaluated both by the success of the final product and the “degree of difficulty” of the attempt. By this system, the figure skater, gymnast or test-taker gets a better grade for doing a harder thing even if the performance is not flawless than for a perfect execution…

NEA emerges intact: Congressional process is a tortuous path Essay

The months of debate, the annual attempt by Sen. Jesses Helms (R-N.C.) to defund the agency, and a weeks-long delay in resolving Western land grazing rights may have seemed like deja vu, but they were in fact the elements of this year’s federal arts appropriation process. On Nov. 11, President Clinton finally signed the 1994…

Nobody knows you when you’re down and out Essay

No Shakespeare play has been subjected to so furious, sharply divided and sustained debate over its basic merit as Timon of Athens. The play is seldom produced, in part because it seems unfinished. It lacks Shakespeare’s usual consistency of poetic genius, the second half is haphazardly structured and some speakers are even left without names….

The collapse of Marxism: ATL’s Classics in Context festival examines a not-enough-distant past Essay

A classic, to hear Mark Twain tell it, is something everyone praises, but nobody reads. In a theatrical context, maybe that would become–nobody produces. At Actors Theatre of Louisville each year, scholars (some travel-weary, some eager, some with the ivory tower equivalent of cabin fever) are joined by critics, plain-clothed practitioners and the idle curious…

What is performance studies? NYU and Northwestern define an elusive field Essay

Performance studies is the ideal field of study for the intellectually promiscuous. In what other academic program can you research the death rituals of the Yanomamo tribe, compare them to the construction of the self in a Jane Fonda exercise video, and then present your findings in the form of a modern dance piece? This…

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