Drama—Bibliography Essay - Critical Essays


Adler, Stella. Stella Adler on Ibsen, Strindberg, and Chekhov. Edited by Barry Paris. New York: Alfred Knopf, 1999. A collection of lectures from the famed acting teacher that examine the preeminent plays of modern theater, their playwrights, and the environments in which they were conceived.

Altshuler, Thelma C., and Richard Paul Janero. Responses to Drama: An Introduction to Plays and Movies. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1967. Student guide to such topics as “Popcorn and Caviar,” “Page, Stage, and Film,” and morality in drama.

Balmforth, Ramsden. The Ethical and Religious Value of the Drama. New York: Gordon Press, 1925. Opinionated, mostly outdated, but specialized essays on religious and moral themes in the drama.

Banks, Morwenna, and Amanda Swift. The Joke’s on Us: Women in Comedy from the Music Hall to the Present Day. London: Pandora, 1987. This feminist-oriented survey provides an in-depth study of such topics as women in music halls and cabarets, male and female humor, and women in comedy. Illustrations, often provocative.

Barish, Jonas A. The Antitheatrical Prejudice. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981. From Plato to Yvor Winters, the author examines critics and moralists who oppose certain freedoms of the theater.

Barnet, Sylvan, and William Burto, et al. Types of Drama: Plays and Contexts. 8th ed. New York: Longman, 2001. Provides a number of well-known plays from throughout the ages, each accompanied by an introduction, biographical notes of the dramatist, and stage histories. Book also includes an introductory chapter that provides critical tools for the reading and understanding of drama.

Bennett, Susan. Theater Audiences: A Theory of Production and Reception. 2d ed. New York: Routledge, 1997. Analyzes the audience as a cultural phenomenon and examines the practices of intercultural theaters and their audiences.

Benson, Carl Frederick, and Taylor Littleton. The Idea of Tragedy. Glenview, Ill.: Scott, Foresman, 1966. Benson divides his text into two parts “Idea,” treating critical theory by significant critics, and “Tragedy,” covering six representative works—with useful comments by different authors.

Bentley, Eric. The Playwright as Thinker: A Study of Drama in Modern Times. New York: Reynal and Hitchcock, 1946. Reprint. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1987. Seminal book that includes essays titled “Bernard Shaw,” “Varieties of Comic Experience,” and “Broadway—and the Alternative.”

Bentley, Eric. The Theatre of Commitment, and Other Essays on Drama in Our Society. New York: Atheneum, 1967. This book contains such essays as “The American Drama from 1944 to 1954” and “What Is Theatre?”

Bentley, Eric. Thinking About the Playwright: Comments from Four Decades. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1990. A collection of Bentley essays, ranging in topics from the nature of theater, the pros and cons of political theater, theater as a form of group therapy, and much more.

Bentley, Eric. The Theory of the Modern Stage: An Introduction to Modern Theatre and Drama. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin Books, 1968. Collection of essays by notable drama commentators; chapters include “Ten Makers of Modern Theatre” and “Toward a Historical Over-View.”

Bentley, Eric, ed. Theory of Modern Stage. New York: Applause Theater Books, 1997. A series of essays present the ideas of several prominent theater scholars about the art of the stage and the future possibilities of drama. The second part of the book contains excerpts from the writings of such seminal commentators as George Lukacs, Romain Rolland, and Alexis de Tocqueville.

Black, Michael. Poetic Drama as Mirror of the Will. London: Vision Press, 1977. Sound scholarly work that is particularly good on William Shakespeare.

Blau, Herbert. Take Up the Bodies: Theatre at the Vanishing Point. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1982. Primarily “a meditation,” according to the author, this complex but original study includes chapters titled “Conspiracy Theory,” “The Power Structure,” “Missing Persons,” and “The Future of an Illusion.”

Boulton, Marjorie. The Anatomy of Drama. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1960. Popularization of literary criticism, especially useful in its treatment of conventions.

Brockett, Oscar G., ed. Studies in Theatre and Drama. The Hague: Mouton, 1972. Scholarly essays written in honor of Hubert C. Heffner; most of the studies are specialized.

Brooks, Cleanth, and Robert B. Heilman. Understanding Drama. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1945. This clearly written text on the theater was very influential during the late 1940’s. It includes such general topics as dialogue and action, and special problems of the drama and how to solve them. Also contains representative scenes from plays.

Brown, John Russell, ed. Drama and the Theatre, with Radio, Film, and Television: An Outline for the Student. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1971. Collection of essays, including J. F. Arnott’s “Theatre History,” Kenneth Muir’s “Plays,” John Fernald’s “Acting,” and George Brandt’s “Radio, Film, and Television.” Augmented by a few illustrations.

Brustein, Robert. Cultural Calisthenics: Writings on Race, Politics, and Theatre. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1998. The theater critic for The New Republic takes on a number of timely issues related to theater, including segregated casting, political correctness, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Brustein, Robert. Who Needs Theatre: Dramatic Opinions. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1987. Genial, sometimes controversial opinions on Shakespeare, modernism, apartheid, and other topics.

Burt, Richard. Shakespeare After Mass-Media. New York: Palgrave, 2002. Examines the contemporary cultural significance of William Shakespeare, exploring the way his plays have been presented and reinterpreted in modern-day radio, television, popular music, and electronic media.

Calderwood, James L., and Harold E. Toliver, eds. Perspectives on Drama. New York: Oxford University Press, 1968. Collection of critical essays ranging from Eric Bentley to Thornton Wilder; strong on aesthetics and dramatic theory.

Cameron, Kenneth M., and Theodore J. C. Hoffman. The Theatrical Response. New York: Macmillan, 1969. Brisk, readable account; especially effective are chapters titled “The Critical Analysis of Drama” and “Some Theater Futures.”

Carlson, Marvin. Theories of the Theatre: A Historical and Critical Survey from the Greeks to the Present. Expanded ed. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1994. Massive scholarly work of great range, examines the aesthetic and philosophical movements that have shaped Western theater.

Clurman, Harold. The Naked Image: Observations on the Modern Theater. New York: Macmillan, 1966. Collection of reviews and essays by the noted critic.

Cohn, Ruby. Currents in Contemporary Drama. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1969. Scholarly treatment of English drama, as well as Continental and classical plays.

Cooper, Charles W. Preface to Drama. New York: Ronald Press, 1955. Some of the examples from this textbook for undergraduates are outdated, but Cooper’s discussion is generally sound.

Davis, Walter A. Get the Guests: Psychoanalysis, Modern American Drama, and the Audience. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1994. Provides a detailed reading of five classic twentieth century playsby Arthur Miller, Edward Albee, Tennessee Williams, and two by Eugene O’Neill—and examines their psychological impact on audiences.

Dawson, S. W. Drama and the Dramatic. London: Methuen, 1970. Brief study of dramatic conventions, influenced in part by the method of F. R. Leavis; chapters on “Drama, Theatre, and Reality,” “Action and Tension,” “Character and Idea.” Useful to actors as well as to students of the theater.

De los Reyes, Marie Philomene. The Biblical Theme in Modern Drama. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 1978. Specialized study on aspects of the religious treatment in selected plays. Effective chapters on the language of biblical themes and on dramaturgy.

Dickinson, Hugh. Myth on the Modern Stage. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1969. Chapters on Robinson Jeffers, Eugene O’Neill, T. S. Eliot, and Tennessee Williams.

Ditsky, John. The Onstage Christ: Studies in the Persistence of a Theme. Totowa, N.J.: Barnes and Noble Books, 1980. Insightful essays on George Bernard Shaw, John Millington Synge, T. S. Eliot, John Osborne, Tennessee Williams, Harold Pinter, and others.

Dollimore, Jonathan. Radical Tragedy: Religion, Ideology, and Power in the Drama of Shakespeare and his Contemporaries. 2d ed. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1994. Originally published in 1984; still stands as a...

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