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History & Criticism

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  1. 7.7 hrs • 3/15/2016 • Unabridged

    Since it first opened on Broadway in September, 1964, Fiddler on the Roof has constantly been onstage somewhere, including five Broadway revivals, four productions on London’s West End and thousands of schools, army bases, and countries from Argentina to Japan. Barbara Isenberg interviewed the men and women behind the original production, the film, and significant revivals—Harold Prince, Sheldon Harnick, Joseph Stein, Austin Pendleton, Joanna Merlin, Norman Jewison, Topol, Harvey Fierstein, and more—to produce a lively, popular chronicle of the making of Fiddler. Published in celebration of Fiddler‘s fiftieth anniversary, Tradition! is the book for everyone who loves Fiddler and can sing along with the original cast album.

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    Tradition!

    7.7 hrs • 3/15/16 • Unabridged
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  2. 1 reviews 0 5 4 4 out of 5 stars 4/5 (1)
    16.7 hrs • 10/6/2015 • Unabridged

    Razzle Dazzle is a provocative, no-holds-barred narrative account of the people, money, and power that reinvented an iconic quarter of New York City, turning its gritty back alleys and sex shops into the glitzy, dazzling Great White Way—and bringing a crippled New York from the brink of bankruptcy to its glittering glory. In the 1970s Times Square was the seedy symbol of New York’s economic decline. Its once shining star, the renowned Shubert Organization, was losing theaters to make way for parking lots. Bernard Jacobs and Jerry Schoenfeld, two ambitious board members, saw the crumbling company was ripe for takeover and staged a coup amid corporate intrigue, personal betrayals, and criminal investigations. Once Jacobs and Schoenfeld solidified their power, they turned a collapsed theater-owning holding company into one of the most successful entertainment empires in the world, ultimately backing many of Broadway’s biggest hits, including A Chorus Line, Cats, Les Misérables, Phantom of the Opera, and Mamma Mia! They also sparked the revitalization of Broadway and the renewal of Times Square. With wit and passion, Michael Riedel tells the stories of the Shubert Organization and the shows that rebuilt a city in grand style, revealing backstage drama that often rivaled what transpired onstage, exposing bitter rivalries, unlikely alliances, and of course, scintillating gossip.

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    Razzle Dazzle by Michael Riedel

    Razzle Dazzle

    16.7 hrs • 10/6/15 • Unabridged
    1 reviews 0 5 4 4 out of 5 stars 4/5 (1)
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  3. 15.2 hrs • 4/7/2015 • Unabridged

    Women of Will, a narrative combining trenchant analysis and riveting scenes, explores the themes of love, loss, freedom, control, violence, and power through the heroines of Shakespeare’s text. Drawing on her knowledge as a director, actor, and teacher, Packer traces the chronological evolution of Shakespeare’s female characters and examines Shakespeare’s own journey and growth as a writer, from feckless misogynist in his youth to committed lover in his middle years to unrepentant feminist in his final years. Based on her five-part theatrical performance of the same name (currently touring throughout the world), Women of Will, combines the knowledge of performance, discussion, and debate with the dramatic tension stemming from the influences Shakespeare responded to in his life, and from Packer’s desire to show how powerful and distinct the women characters are in his plays. From Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing to Lady Macbeth to Paulina in A Winter’s Tale and everyone in between, Women of Will gives a unique and exhilarating perspective on some of the most well-known classical texts in the English language.

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    Women of Will

    15.2 hrs • 4/7/15 • Unabridged
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  4. 8.9 hrs • 3/3/2015 • Unabridged

    In The Eating of the Gods the distinguished Polish critic Jan Kott reexamines Greek tragedy from the modern perspective. As in his earlier acclaimed Shakespeare, Our Contemporary, Kott provides startling insights and intuitive leaps which link our world to that of the ancient Greeks. The title refers to the Bacchae of Euripides, that tragedy of lust, revenge, murder, and “the joy of eating raw flesh” which Kott finds paradigmatic in its violence and bloodshed. Whether reflecting on Prometheus or drawing a modern parallel in Beckett’s Happy Days (“the final version of the Prometheus myth”), Kott’s vision is brilliant, his method innovative, and his sensibility consistently new. Since this book first appeared, Kott’s connections between ancient and modern have become even more compelling in their immediacy.

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    The Eating of the Gods by Jan Kott

    The Eating of the Gods

    Translated by Bolesław Taborski and Edward J. Czerwinski
    Directed by Claire Bloom
    8.9 hrs • 3/3/15 • Unabridged
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  5. 0 reviews 0 5 5 5 out of 5 stars 5/5
    11.0 hrs • 12/16/2014 • Unabridged

    Shakespeare, Our Contemporary is a provocative, original study of the major plays of Shakespeare. More than that, it is one of the few critical works to have strongly influenced theatrical productions. Peter Brook and Charles Marowitz are among the many directors who have acknowledged their debt to Jan Kott, finding in his analogies between Shakespearean situations and those in modern life and drama the seeds of vital new stage conceptions. Shakespeare, Our Contemporary has been translated into nineteen languages since it appeared in 1961, and readers all over the world have similarly found their responses to Shakespeare broadened and enriched.

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    Shakespeare, Our Contemporary by Jan Kott

    Shakespeare, Our Contemporary

    Directed by Cassandra de Cuir and Claire Bloom
    11.0 hrs • 12/16/14 • Unabridged
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  6. 4.3 hrs • 7/15/2014

    For most theatergoers today, realism is the standard. We are accustomed to seeing characters on stage who walk, talk, and sound just like real people. Everyday speech is commonplace in theatrical scripts, as are stage sets that look and feel and smell like real places—complete with running water and electric lights that work exactly as if we were in a real apartment, or office, or kitchen. But it wasn’t always this way. In fact, realism was once an avant-garde movement; a cutting edge, revolutionary idea that disrupted the way theater had always been done up until the dawn of the twentieth century. It was at this time that a number of social, political, and artistic movements began to influence theater artists and lead them to create the theater most of us recognize today.  In this enlightening series of lectures, Professor Megan Lewis of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst takes us on an engaging journey through the history of theater in the twentieth century. She explores some of the century’s early movements such as symbolism, expressionism, and Dada, which arose amid political turmoil and quickly began to fuel rapid change in the way playwrights, directors, and actors where approaching theater. In subsequent lectures, Professor Lewis also explores how currents such as politics, race relations, and the women’s movement also began to influence theater and use it as a force for social change. Her analysis takes us to the dawn of the twenty-first century as theater artists continue to reenvision and expand the definition of theater itself. She discusses topics such as performance studies, which expands the idea of performance beyond the theater; sports as theater, which radically reimagines the role of the audience; creative ways of trying to reach underrepresented audiences; and new ways of making theater for a new century.

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    Politics and Performance

    Presented by Megan Lewis
    4.3 hrs • 7/15/14
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  7. 1 reviews 0 5 2.4 2 out of 5 stars 2.4/5 (1)
    21.4 hrs • 11/5/2013 • Unabridged

    We see Bob Fosse’s legacy everywhere—from Broadway to “Billy Jean” to Beyoncé’s moves in the “Single Ladies” video. Yet in spite of Fosse’s deep cultural significance, no biography has ever brought him fully to life, unveiling the man behind the bowler hat and the swaggering sex appeal. Now acclaimed cultural historian Sam Wasson traces Fosse’s numberless reinventions of himself over a career that would spawn The Pajama Game, Cabaret, Pippin, Chicago, All That Jazz, and other iconic works of art and earn him Tonys, Emmys, and an Oscar. Wasson traces not only Fosse’s prodigious professional life but his intense relationships with everyone from Liza Minnelli, Fred Astaire, and Neil Simon to Shirley MacLaine, Jessica Lange, and Dustin Hoffman. Through extensive interviews with collaborators and lovers and unprecedented access to Fosse’s archives, Wasson also reveals the deep wounds that propelled his subject’s excessive appetites—for spotlights, women, and life itself. In Fosse, Wasson’s stylish, effervescent prose proves the ideal vehicle for reanimating Bob Fosse as he truly was—after hours, close up, and in vibrant color.

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    Fosse by Sam Wasson

    Fosse

    21.4 hrs • 11/5/13 • Unabridged
    1 reviews 0 5 2.4 2 out of 5 stars 2.4/5 (1)
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  8. 4.2 hrs • 10/2/2013

    All the world is a stage, Shakespeare tells us, and we are all its players. In fact, since the dawn of human history, we find evidence of theater and performance. And throughout that history, this unique art form has flourished. In this engaging series of lectures, theater historian Megan Lewis takes listeners on a journey from the ancient world of the Greeks and Romans to the modern era as she explores how theater—a live event that synthesizes many other art forms and disciples in a collaborative process of storytelling—entertains, educates, and inspires us, as well as helps build community and reflect society. Dr. Lewis begins by mapping the ancient origins of performance, as a communal storytelling and mythmaking endeavor, while she discusses the traditional birthplace of theatre in ancient Greece as well as its African predecessors. Subsequent lectures explore the classical origins of theatre in the West; the Roman theater; theater in the medieval world; the national theaters of Shakespeare and Lope de Vega; the Elizabethan, Jacobean, and Restoration periods; as well as non-Western performance traditions in Asia, Africa, and India. In addition, physical theaters such as the Italian Commedia dell’arte and Japanese Bunraku puppetry are examined. Covering performances that make-believe and those that make belief, Professor Lewis also passionately discusses the art, politics, and meaning of theater and how it offers humans a space in which to imagine new realities and suggest different possibilities—or to incite action and bring about social change.

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