The Performance of Power

The Performance of Power

Theatrical Discourse and Politics

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"Indispensible…The Performance of Power is like a hand grenade tossed into the rather sedate world of Theatre History and Dramatic Criticism. It is an important book which should be read by all involved in the field of study so that they may be constantly reminded of what gender, race, and prejudice may be blinding them to. It challenges, it questions, but most importantly it offers suggestions for changes and revisions of practice…A most invaluable vade mecum for the young research student."—Theatre Journal

Recently in the field of theatre studies there has been an increasing amount of debate and dissonance regarding the borders of its territory, its methodologies, subject matter, and scholarly perspectives. The nature of this debate could be termed "political" and, in fact, concerns "the performance of power"—the struggle over power relations embedded in texts, methodologies, and the academy itself.

This striking new collection of nineteen divergent essays represents this performance of power and the way in which the recent convergence of new critical theories with historical studies has politicized the study of the theatre. Neither play text, performance, nor scholarship and teaching can safely reside any longer in the "free," politically neutral, self-signifying realm of the aesthetic. Politicizing theatrical discourse means that both the hermeneutics and the histories of theatre reveal the role of ideology and power dynamics.

New strategies and concepts—and a vital new phase of awareness—appear in these illuminating essays. A variety of historical periods, from the Renaissance through the Victorian and up to the most contemporary work of the Wooster group, illustrate the ways in which contemporary strategies do not require contemporary texts and performances but can combine with historical methods and subjects to produce new theatrical discourse.

Table of contents: 

Introduction - Sue-Ellen Case and Janelle Reinelt


Sexual Politics and Cultural Identity in The Masque of Blackness - Kim F. Hall

The Good Soldier Schwejk as Dialectical Theater - Sarah Bryant-Bertail

Revolution …History …Theater: The Politics of the Wooster Group's Second Trilogy - David Savran

Bernard Shaw and the Drama of Imperialism - J. Ellen Gainor


Constructing Patroclus: The High and Low Discourses of Renaissance Sodomy - Gregory W. Bredbeck

The Politics of Metamora - Jeffrey D. Mason

The Eurocolonial Reception of Sanskrit Poetics - Sue-Ellen Case


The Artificial Eye: Augustan Theater and the Empire of the Visible - Joseph Roach

The Playhouse and the Committee - Barry B. Witham

Spectacle as Government: Dickens and the Working-Class Audience - Janice Carlisle


Victorian Players and Sages - Nina Auerbach

Charlie Chaplin, Soviet Icon - Spencer Golub

Theorizing Utopia: Edward Bond's War Plays - Janelle Reinelt


Introduction - Thomas Postlewait

Demographics and the Academy - Margaret B. Wilkerson

The Challenge to Professional Training and Development - Simon Williams

Integrating Instruction, Production, and Research - Jon Whitmore

Conferring Power in the Theater - Gay Gibson Cima

New Historicism and American Theater History: Toward an Interdisciplinary Paradigm for Scholarship - Bruce A. McConachie

The Theory of History - Marvin Carlson

Notes on Contributors