The Making of Theatrical Reputations

The Making of Theatrical Reputations

Studies from the Modern London Theatre


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2008
304 pages, 17 photos, 5 3/4 x 9 1/4 inches
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"I commend the clarity with which Zarhy-Levo summarizes the critical opinions of reviewers and academics alike. Her argument is original and well presented and will throw new light on theatrical developments in postwar Britain."—Michael Anderson, professor emeritus of drama, University of Kent

"Theatre critics and drama scholars have long believed that they have an effect on the general public's response to playwrights, particularly those whose plays are difficult, expressed in unconventional ways, or deal with unpopular topics. Yael Zarhy-Levo demonstrates that there is substantial evidence to corroborate this claim. Emphasizing the contributions of newspaper critics, Zarhy-Levo explains how favorable reviews and careful analyses of the dramas ultimately persuaded theatre-goers to understand, accept, and appreciate both the individual plays and the authors who created them."—Steven H. Gale, founding president of the Harold Pinter Society, founding coauthor of The Pinter Review, author of Butter's Going Up: A Critical Analysis of Harold Pinter's Work

Today's successful plays and playwrights achieve their prominence not simply because of their intrinsic merit but because of the work of mediators, who influence the whole trajectory of a playwright's or a theatre company's career. Critics and academic writers are primarily considered the makers of reputations, but funding organizations and various media agents as well as artistic directors, producers, and directors also pursue separate agendas in shaping the reputations of theatrical works. In The Making of Theatrical Reputations Yael Zarhy-Levo demonstrates the processes through which these mediatory practices by key authority figures situate theatrical companies and playwrights within cultural and historical memory.

 To reveal how these authorizing powers-that-be promote theatrical events, companies, and playwrights, Zarhy-Levo presents four detailed case studies that reflect various angles of the modern London theatre. In the case of the English Stage Company's production of John Osborne's Look Back in Anger, she centers on a specific event. She then focuses on the trajectory of a single company, the Theatre Workshop, particularly through its first decade at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East, London. Next, she explores the career of the dramatist John Arden, especially its first ten years, in part drawing upon an interview with Arden and his wife, actress and playwright Margaretta D'Arcy, before turning to her fourth study: the playwright Harold Pinter's shifting reputation throughout the different phases of his career.

Zarhy-Levo's accounts of these theatrical events, companies, and playwrights through the prism of mediation bring fresh insights to these landmark productions and their creators.

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