Blood on the Stage, 1975-2000: Milestone Plays of Crime, Mystery and Detectionby Amnon Kabatchnik
In Blood on the Stage, 1975-2000: Milestone Plays of Crime, Mystery, and Detection: An Annotated Repertoire, Amnon Kabatchnik provides an overview of the most important and memorable theatrical works of crime and detection of this period. Continuing the work of his previous volumes (1900-1925, 1925-1950, and 1950-1975), Kabatchnik describes more than 80
In Blood on the Stage, 1975-2000: Milestone Plays of Crime, Mystery, and Detection: An Annotated Repertoire, Amnon Kabatchnik provides an overview of the most important and memorable theatrical works of crime and detection of this period. Continuing the work of his previous volumes (1900-1925, 1925-1950, and 1950-1975), Kabatchnik describes more than 80 full-length plays produced in the last quarter of the 20th century, with an emphasis on New York and London performances.
Arranged in chronological order, the productions are all works of enduring importance, pioneering contributions, singular innovations, or outstanding success. Many of the most notable playwrights of the era are represented, including Ariel Dorfman, Larry Gelbart, Ira Levin, David Mamet, Terence Rattigan, Reginald Rose, Sam Shepard, Stephen Sondheim, Aaron Sorkin, and Tom Stoppard. The stories involve murder, theft, chicanery, kidnapping, political intrigue, or espionage, with each entry including a plot synopsis, production data, and the opinions of well-known and respected critics and scholars.
The plays in this era encompass suspenseful melodramas, psychological thrillers, baffling whodunits, and even musicals, including such memorable works as Assassins, City of Angels, Deathtrap, Death and the Maiden, A Few Good Men, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Sweeney Todd, and The Phantom of the Opera.
Highsmith, Ira Levin, and Raymond Chandler. Not only are the summaries readable, but they are based on impeccable research. To cite just one example, I had been trying, with no success, to determine who played Philip Marlowe in a 1978 Chicago version of Chandler’s The Little Sister. Kabatchnik has that information. In the last 25 years or so West End and Broadway musicals have often been about crime, and Kabatchnik does not ignore them, discussing Chicago, Sweeney Todd, Les Misérables, and Phantom of the Opera among others. Accuracy is important in a book such as this that can be used for reference as well as pleasurable reading. There are thousands of facts presented, and I could find few errors, despite wearing my nit-picking hat.
What is particularly engaging about Blood on the Stage is I've discovered books that were translated to the stage that I didn't know about.
Amnon Kabatchnik's entertaining research and reporting style makes for a really interesting read.
Blood on the stage 1975-2000 is a keeper.
Amnon Kabatchnik's scholarly recording of milestone plays is a book that is easy to dip into and return to. both for reference and pleasure. If you can't get it for yourself, lobby your local library or college and share the enjoyment.
- Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
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Meet the Author
Amnon Kabatchnik, now retired, was a professor of theatre at SUNY Binghamton, Stanford University, Ohio State University, Florida State University, and Elmira College. He is the author of the three previous Blood on the Stage volumes: 1900-1925 (2008), 1925-1950 (2009), and 1950-1975 (2011), as well as the author of Sherlock Holmes: A Chronological Encyclopedia of Plays Featuring the Great Detective (2008), all published by Scarecrow Press.
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Following on his previous three volumes in this series, which addressed the first three quarters of the twentieth century, comes Amnon Kabatchnik’s latest 646-page tome: Blood on the Stage, 1975–2000. As insightful and as rich a source of information on stagecraft as his previous repertoires have been, Blood on the Stage, 1975–2000 not only neatly rounds off his broad-sweeping overview of the century’s crime, mystery and detection stage productions, but also enhances the other volumes in the series by his many allusions to the dramatists of previous eras. For each of the 80 plays and musicals that Kabatchnik features in the latest volume, this Rodgers & Hammerstein award-winning director and Professor of Theater provides a comprehensive and highly readable account not only of the plot, but also of the playwright’s background, the production history of the piece, and how it was received by both audience and critics alike. Kabatchnik’s all round and firsthand experience of stagecraft conveys a sense of the enthralldom of the medium, of which he is an acknowledged expert. By contextualizing each of the dramatic works that he covers in relation to other theatrical pieces in the genre not only does Kabatchnik clearly show the depth of his erudition, but his expansive vision of the whole spectrum of which he writes entrenches his rapport with his audience. The result is that we are uplifted into the entrancing ambience and ethos of theater, and transported from our everyday, mundane existence to the world behind and beyond the footlights. This is the best that a dramatist can do, and Kabatchnik clearly does it here in print. Not sufficing himself with trenchant commentary on, and the contextualization and analysis of, each of the plays that he covers, Kabatchnik concludes the collection with several fascinating appendices, treating the use of deadly poison on stage and the vulnerability of children as portrayed in twentieth-century drama, as well as listing the century’s courtroom dramas, death-row plays and “Notable One-Acts of Mayhem, Mischief, and Murder”. The 20-page index is both clear and comprehensive, facilitating access to the text in such a logical and well-reasoned way that using it is a joy. The fluent rhythm and cadence of Kabatchnik’s writing has no doubt contributed greatly to the general reading public’s positive reception of the author’s work, with the authentic ring of his work being bound to appeal to those who love the crime, mystery and detection genre both on the stage and in the written text.