Playing God: The Bible on the Broadway Stage

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9780472052929: Playing God: The Bible on the Broadway Stage

Whether we regard it as the collected inscriptions of an earlier oral tradition or as the divinely authored source text of liturgical ritual, the Bible can be understood as a sacred performance text, a framework for an instructional theater that performs the shared moral and ethical values of a community. It's not surprising, then, that playwrights have turned to the Bible as a source for theatrical adaptation. Biblical texts have inspired more than 100 Broadway plays and musicals, ranging from early spectacles like Ben-Hur (1899) to more familiar works such as Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar. What happens when a culture's most sacred text enters its most commercial performance venue?
Playing God focuses on eleven financially and/or critically successful productions, as well as a few notable Broadway flops that highlight the difficulties in adapting the Old and New Testaments for the stage. The book is informed by both performance studies and theater history, combining analysis of play-scripts with archival research into the actual circumstances of production and reception. Biblical plays, Henry Bial argues, balance religious and commercial considerations through a complex blend of spectacle, authenticity, sincerity, and irony. Though there is no magic formula for a successful adaptation, these four analytical lenses help explain why some biblical plays thrive while others have not.
Playing God is the 2016 winner of the John W. Frick Book Award from the American Theatre and Drama Society.

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About the Author:

Henry Bial is Professor of Theatre and Director of the School of the Arts, University of Kansas. His previous books include Theater Historiography: Critical Interventions (co-edited with Scott Magelssen); Acting Jewish: Negotiating Ethnicity on the American Stage and Screen; and The Performance Studies Reader.

Review:

"A detailed and entertaining overview of more than 100 years of Biblical theatre on the Great White Way, Playing God asks important questions about the complex interplay between theological, commercial, and aesthetic enterprises found in scripturally inspired theatre.  An important, and enjoyable, read for any scholar of religious performance, or lover of Broadway."
-- The Reverend Canon Julia Whitworth, Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine

"This new excavation of U.S. theatre history gives readers--religious or not--compelling performance analyses and a vibrant sense of being-there."
-- Stacy Wolf, Princeton University

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Book Description The University of Michigan Press, United States, 2015. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Whether we regard it as the collected inscriptions of an earlier oral tradition or as the divinely authored source text of liturgical ritual, the Bible can be understood as a sacred performance text, a framework for an instructional theater that performs the shared moral and ethical values of a community. It s not surprising, then, that playwrights have turned to the Bible as a source for theatrical adaptation. Biblical texts have inspired more than 100 Broadway plays and musicals, ranging from early spectacles like Ben-Hur (1899) to more familiar works such as Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar. What happens when a culture s most sacred text enters its most commercial performance venue? Playing God focuses on eleven financially and/or critically successful productions, as well as a few notable Broadway flops that highlight the difficulties in adapting the Old and New Testaments for the stage. The book is informed by both performance studies and theater history, combining analysis of play-scripts with archival research into the actual circumstances of production and reception. Biblical plays, Henry Bial argues, balance religious and commercial considerations through a complex blend of spectacle, authenticity, sincerity, and irony. Though there is no magic formula for a successful adaptation, these four analytical lenses help explain why some biblical plays thrive while others have not. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780472052929

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Book Description The University of Michigan Press, United States, 2015. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Whether we regard it as the collected inscriptions of an earlier oral tradition or as the divinely authored source text of liturgical ritual, the Bible can be understood as a sacred performance text, a framework for an instructional theater that performs the shared moral and ethical values of a community. It s not surprising, then, that playwrights have turned to the Bible as a source for theatrical adaptation. Biblical texts have inspired more than 100 Broadway plays and musicals, ranging from early spectacles like Ben-Hur (1899) to more familiar works such as Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar. What happens when a culture s most sacred text enters its most commercial performance venue? Playing God focuses on eleven financially and/or critically successful productions, as well as a few notable Broadway flops that highlight the difficulties in adapting the Old and New Testaments for the stage. The book is informed by both performance studies and theater history, combining analysis of play-scripts with archival research into the actual circumstances of production and reception. Biblical plays, Henry Bial argues, balance religious and commercial considerations through a complex blend of spectacle, authenticity, sincerity, and irony. Though there is no magic formula for a successful adaptation, these four analytical lenses help explain why some biblical plays thrive while others have not. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780472052929

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Book Description The University of Michigan Press, United States, 2015. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. Whether we regard it as the collected inscriptions of an earlier oral tradition or as the divinely authored source text of liturgical ritual, the Bible can be understood as a sacred performance text, a framework for an instructional theater that performs the shared moral and ethical values of a community. It s not surprising, then, that playwrights have turned to the Bible as a source for theatrical adaptation. Biblical texts have inspired more than 100 Broadway plays and musicals, ranging from early spectacles like Ben-Hur (1899) to more familiar works such as Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar. What happens when a culture s most sacred text enters its most commercial performance venue? Playing God focuses on eleven financially and/or critically successful productions, as well as a few notable Broadway flops that highlight the difficulties in adapting the Old and New Testaments for the stage. The book is informed by both performance studies and theater history, combining analysis of play-scripts with archival research into the actual circumstances of production and reception. Biblical plays, Henry Bial argues, balance religious and commercial considerations through a complex blend of spectacle, authenticity, sincerity, and irony. Though there is no magic formula for a successful adaptation, these four analytical lenses help explain why some biblical plays thrive while others have not. Bookseller Inventory # BTE9780472052929

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