Honor roll: Drama books

Each of these Drama books has received at least one award nomination. They are ranked by honors received.

Book:O'Neill: Volume 2: Son and Artist

O'Neill: Volume 2: Son and Artist

Louis Scheaffer

The turbulent, often tragic life of America’s greatest playwright, Eugene O’Neill, is laid bare in this acclaimed and insightful biography.

Book:Ibsen

Ibsen

Michael Meyer

Generally acknowledged as the founder of modern prose drama, Henrik Ibsen is now regarded as the first major innovative modern dramatist. Creating new attitudes to theatre, he is credited with being one of the first to write about ordinary people in prose, abandoning traditional theatrical effects in favour of a new style of performance.

Michael Meyer is the world authority on Ibsen, and this highly acclaimed biography is regarded as the definitive life of the founding genius of modern European theatre.

Book:Saint Joan of the Stockyards

Saint Joan of the Stockyards

Bertolt Brecht, Frank Jones

Joan of Arc is Joan Dark in Saint Joan of the Stockyards, Bertolt Brecht’s first major political drama for the commercial theater. A virtuous knight in a Christian army of salvation, she makes the stockyards her field of battle when she clashes with Pierpoint Mauler, meat king and philanthropist, over the heart of business and the soul of labor.

Book:Something to Answer For

Something to Answer For

P.H. Newby

It was 1956 and he was in Port Said. About these two facts he was reasonably certain but a murderous attack left him certain about little else – maybe just the conviction that the British usually did the right thing and that to be a crook a man must assume the society he lived in was honest.

He had been summoned to Egypt by the widow of an old friend, Elie Khoury, who had been found dead in the street. Murdered? Nobody but the widow seemed to think so. Confusingly, Townrow had a half-memory of Elie’s body being buried at sea. And what about Leah Strauss? Evidently he was having an affair with her, but there were times when he wondered whether he would turn out to be her American husband. If he was her American husband why did his memories appear to be Irish? And only an Englishman, surely, would take it for granted that the British behaved themselves. The arrival of the British paratroops was the final perplexity. …[more]

Book:Ben Jonson: A Life

Ben Jonson: A Life

Ian Donaldson

Ben Jonson was the greatest of Shakespeare’s contemporaries. His fame rests not only on the numerous plays he had written, but on his achievements over three decades as principal masque-writer to the early Stuart court, where he had worked in creative, if at times stormy, collaboration with Inigo Jones. One of the most accomplished poets of the age, he was—in fact if not in title—the first Poet Laureate in England.

Ian Donaldson’s new biography draws on freshly discovered writings by and about Ben Jonson, and locates his work within the social and intellectual contexts of his time. Donaldson depicts a life full of drama. Jonson’s early satirical play, The Isle of Dogs, landed him in prison, and brought all theatrical activity in London to a temporary—and very nearly permanent—standstill. He was “almost at the gallows” for killing a fellow actor after a quarrel, and converted to Catholicism while…[more]

Book:Out of Eden

Out of Eden: An Odyssey of Ecological Invasion

Alan Burdick

Now as never before, exotic animals and plants are crossing the globe, borne on the swelling tide of human traffic to places where nature never intended them to be. Bird-eating snakes from Australia hitchhike to Hawaii in the landing gear of airliners; disruptive European zebra mussels, riding in ships’ ballast water, are infiltrating aquatic ecosystems across the United States; parasitic flies from the U.S. prey on Darwin’s finches in the Galapagos. Predatory American jellyfish in Russia; toxic Japanese plankton in Australia; Burmese pythons in the Everglades-biologists refer fearfully to “the homogenization of the world” as alien species jump from place to place and increasingly crowd native and endangered species out of existence. Never mind bulldozers and pesticides: the fastest-growing threat to biological diversity may be nature itself.

Out of Eden is a journey through this strange and shifting landscape. The author tours the front lines of ecological…[more]

Book:Alcestis

Alcestis

Ted Hughes, Euripides

In the years before his death at age sixty-eight in 1998, Hughes translated several classical works with great energy and ingenuity. His Tales from Ovid was called “one of the great works of our century” (Michael Hofmann, The Times, London), his Oresteia of Aeschylus is considered the difinitive version, and his Phèdre was acclaimed on stage in New York as well as London. Hughes’s version of Euripides’s Alcestis, the last of his translations, has the great brio of those works, and it is a powerful and moving conclusion to the great final phase of Hughes’s career.

Euripides was, with Aeschylus and Sophocles, one of the greatest of Greek dramatists. Alcestis tells the story of a king’s grief for his wife, Alcestis, who has given her young life so that he may live. As translated by Hughes, the story has a distinctly modern sensibility while retaining the spirit of antiquity. It is a profound meditation on human mortality.

Book:Pilgrim

Pilgrim: A Novel

Timothy Findley

“I have lived many times, Doctor Jung. Who knows, as Leda I might have been the mother of Helen—or, as Anne, the mother of Mary…. I was also crippled shepherd in thrall of Saint Teresa of Avila; an Irish stable boy and a maker of stained glass at Chartres…. I saw the first performance of Hamlet and the last performance of Moliere, the actor. I was a friend to Oscar Wilde and an enemy to Leonardo…. I am both male and female. I am ageless, and I have no access to death.”

On April 15, 1912—ironically the very date on which more than a thousand people lost their lives as the Titanic sank—a figure known only as Pilgrim tries to commit suicide by hanging himself from a tree. When he is found five hours later, his heart miraculously begins beating again. This isn’t his first attempt to end his life, and it is decided that steps must be…[more]

Book:The Art of Shakespeare's Sonnets

The Art of Shakespeare's Sonnets

Helen Vendler

Helen Vendler, widely regarded as our most accomplished interpreter of poetry, here serves as an incomparable guide to some of the best-loved poems in the English language.

In detailed commentaries on Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets, Vendler reveals previously unperceived imaginative and stylistic features of the poems, pointing out not only new levels of import in particular lines, but also the ways in which the four parts of each sonnet work together to enact emotion and create dynamic effect. The commentaries—presented alongside the original and modernized texts—offer fresh perspectives on the individual poems, and, taken together, provide a full picture of Shakespeare’s techniques as a working poet. With the help of Vendler’s acute eye, we gain an appreciation of “Shakespeare’s elated variety of invention, his ironic capacity, his astonishing refinement of technique, and, above all, the reach of his skeptical imaginative…[more]

Book:Chinese Opera

Chinese Opera: Images and Stories

Wang-Ngai Siu, Peter Lovrick

Chinese Opera looks at Chinese society through an exciting series of photographs of operatic performances from many regions of the country. The book introduces the reader to this unique theatrical form and tells the traditional stories that are its narrative foundation.

Siu Wang-Ngai’s extraordinary images, taken in existing light during performances, lovingly reveal the visual excitement of Chinese opera and point to the differences in costuming and presentation that distinguish each regional style and character type. Through Peter Lovrick’s engaging text, Chinese Opera provides a brief anecdotal history of the development of Chinese opera and introduces a language of theatrical convention entirely new to the Westerner. It also identifies the hallmarks of the dozen or so regional opera styles found in this collection. As well, the book arranges the stories in a rough chain of being, from…[more]

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