The Story of Drama: Tragedy, Comedy and Sacrifice from the Greeks to the Present

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9781408184158: The Story of Drama: Tragedy, Comedy and Sacrifice from the Greeks to the Present
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Tracing the history of tragedy and comedy from their earliest beginnings to the present, this book offers readers an exceptional study of the development of both genres, grounded in analysis of landmark plays and their context. It argues that sacrifice is central to both genres, and demonstrates how it provides a key to understanding the grand sweep of Western drama. For students of literature and drama the volume serves as an accessible companion to over two millennia of drama organised by period, and reveals how sacrifice represents a through-line running from classical drama to today's reality TV and blockbuster movies.

Across the chapters devoted to each period, Day explores how the meanings of sacrifice change over time, but never quite disappear. He charts the influences of religion, social change and politics on the status and purposes of theatre in each period, and on the drama itself. But it is through a close study of key plays that he reveals the continuities centred around sacrifice that persist and which illuminate aspects of human psychology and social organisation.

Among the many plays and events considered are Aeschylus' trilogy The Oresteia, Aristophanes' Women at the Thesmorphia, Menander's The Bad-Tempered Man, the spectacles of the Roman Games, Seneca's The Trojan Women, Plautus's The Rope, the Cycle plays and Everyman from the Middle Ages, Shakespeare's King Lear and A Midsummer Night's Dream, Middleton's The Revenger's Tragedy, Jonson's Every Man in His Humour, Thomas Otway's The Orphan, William Wycherley's The Country Wife, Wilde's A Woman of No Importance, Beckett' Waiting for Godot, Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire, Suzan-Lori Parks's Topdog/Underdog, Sarah Kane's Blasted and Charlotte Jones' Humble Boy. A conclusion examines the persistence of ideas of sacrifice in today's reality TV and blockbuster movies.

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About the Author:

Gary Day recently retired as principal lecturer at De Montfort University, UK, where he taught courses on the history of drama, the eighteenth century, modernism, contemporary drama and contemporary fiction. He is the author of Literary Criticism: A New History (2008) and Modernist Literature: 1890-1950 (2010). He has edited a dozen books, the latest being The Wiley Encyclopaedia of British Eighteenth Century Literature (2015) with Jack Lynch. He has contributed to the Cambridge History of Literary Criticism and to the Oxford Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism. He has also been a regular columnist and reviewer for the Times Higher.

Review:

“Offers powerful insights into the workings of sacrifice in both tragic and comic modes of drama, and offers a wide set of historical examples of how sacrifice is embedded in both modes ... The book’s final chapters bring its insights together, offering the kind of critical depth and potential richness that reward close reading ... Day’s last chapter ... builds a compelling case for how complexly the power of these deep-seated, ancient structures―ways of shaping the world and how we feel about it―are embedded in contemporary, popular sensibilities and entertainments ... I am grateful to Gary Day for his labors in bringing these volcanic forces to light, showing how we might unbury them, and revealing how they persist in contemporary dramatic forms far from the ancient circumstances of their birth.” – Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism

"In helping us to rethink how we discuss theatre, Day is providing critics and educators a new set of tools with which to work ... This book would be most useful in a script-analysis classroom as a way to begin interesting discussions about plays―or rather to rethink how we approach those discussions. Rather than asking 'What does this play mean?,' Day wants us to ask 'How does this play maintain social cohesion through sacrifice?'" -Theatre Topics

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Book Description Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, United Kingdom, 2016. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. Tracing the history of tragedy and comedy from their earliest beginnings to the present, this book offers readers an exceptional study of the development of both genres, grounded in analysis of landmark plays and their context. It argues that sacrifice is central to both genres, and demonstrates how it provides a key to understanding the grand sweep of Western drama. For students of literature and drama the volume serves as an accessible companion to over two millennia of drama organised by period, and reveals how sacrifice represents a through-line running from classical drama to today s reality TV and blockbuster movies. Across the chapters devoted to each period, Day explores how the meanings of sacrifice change over time, but never quite disappear. He charts the influences of religion, social change and politics on the status and purposes of theatre in each period, and on the drama itself. But it is through a close study of key plays that he reveals the continuities centred around sacrifice that persist and which illuminate aspects of human psychology and social organisation. Among the many plays and events considered are Aeschylus trilogy The Oresteia, Aristophanes Women at the Thesmorphia, Menander s The Bad-Tempered Man, the spectacles of the Roman Games, Seneca s The Trojan Women, Plautus s The Rope, the Cycle plays and Everyman from the Middle Ages, Shakespeare s King Lear and A Midsummer Night s Dream, Middleton s The Revenger s Tragedy, Jonson s Every Man in His Humour, Thomas Otway s The Orphan, William Wycherley s The Country Wife, Wilde s A Woman of No Importance, Beckett Waiting for Godot, Tennessee Williams s A Streetcar Named Desire, Suzan-Lori Parks s Topdog/Underdog, Sarah Kane s Blasted and Charlotte Jones Humble Boy. A conclusion examines the persistence of ideas of sacrifice in today s reality TV and blockbuster movies. Seller Inventory # APC9781408184158

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