Mirrors of Our Playing: Paradigms and Presences in Modern Drama

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 1999-08-01
  • Publisher: Univ of Michigan Pr
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Focusing on both scripts and performance,Mirrors of Our Playingtakes a fresh look at modern English-speaking drama, from its Anglo-Irish beginnings to its contemporary cross-fertilizations and international dispersals. It shows how most important English-speaking theater has been shaped in accord with several major paradigms, while it examines four major presences in that theater: Lord Byron, Samuel Beckett, Wole Soyinka, and Peter Brook. Whitaker starts with the premise that a play in performance is a manifold mirror of the playing that constitutes our lives, shaped through the interaction of received paradigms and living presences. Each major paradigm--Brecht's dialectical theater, Synge's satirical tragicomic romance, Shaw's or Stoppard's serious farce, the Chekhovian community of heartbreak, or Beckett's or Pinter's world of hellish confinement--offers us one way of looking at and participating in the human situation. But each instance of theater must flesh out and modify one or more paradigms in terms of the specific presences of playwright, director, actors, and audiences, as well as presences from the past. The book stands on the borderlands between text-oriented and performance-oriented criticism and will have wide appeal to scholars, students, and theater aficianados. Thomas Whitaker is an emeritus Professor of English, Yale University. He has written several books, includingFields of Play in Modern Drama, the book to whichMirrors of Our Playingis the sequel.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Children of Paradise: Shooting a Dream 1(20)
Part 1 Paradigms
Playing with The Playboy: Synge and Tradition
The Music of Serious Farce: Wilde, Shaw, Orton, and Stoppard
Communities of Heartbreak: From Chekhov and Shaw to Friel and Smith
Playing Hell: Sartre, Beckett, Genet, and Pinter
Part 2 Presences
The Presence of Byron
Wham, Bam, Thank You Sam
Soyinka's Roads to the Abyss
Brook and the Purpose of Playing
Afterword: Angels in America 267(14)
Works Cited 281(16)
Index 297

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