Performing Age in Modern Drama

Performing Age in Modern Drama

by Valerie Barnes Lipscomb

Hardcover(1st ed. 2016)

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This book is the first to examine age across the modern and contemporary dramatic canon, from Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams to Paula Vogel and Doug Wright. All ages across the life course are interpreted as performance and performative both on page and on stage, including professional productions and senior-theatre groups.

The common admonition "act your age" provides the springboard for this study, which rests on the premise that age is performative in nature, and that issues of age and performance crystallize in the theatre.

Dramatic conventions include characters who change ages from one moment to the next, overtly demonstrating on stage the reiterated actions that create a performative illusion of stable age. Moreover, directors regularly cast actors in these plays against their chronological ages. Lipscomb contends that while the plays reflect varying attitudes toward performing age, as a whole they reveal a longing for an ageless self, a desire to present a consistent, unified identity. The works mirror prevailing social perceptions of the aging process as well as the tension between chronological age, physiological age, and cultural constructions of age.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781137512512
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan US
Publication date: 07/14/2016
Edition description: 1st ed. 2016
Pages: 202
Product dimensions: 5.83(w) x 8.27(h) x (d)

About the Author

Valerie Barnes Lipscomb is Associate Professor of English at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, USA. She serves on the executive committees of the North American Network in Aging Studies and the Modern Language Association Age Studies Forum. She co-edited Staging Age (2010) and has published in such journals as Comparative Drama, Journal of Ageing and Later Life, and Age, Culture, Humanities.

Table of Contents

Introduction.- 1. Classics of Modern Drama.- 2. Contemporary Memory Plays.- 3. Contemporary Memory Plays II.- 4. The Continuum of Age.- 5. The Fullness of Self.- Bibliography.

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“Just when you thought that some of the best-known 20th century plays had been thoroughly explored, Valerie Lipscomb brings long overdue attention to the presentation of age and aging in modern drama and theater. Her discussion shows that no analysis of theatrical text and performance can be complete without consideration of this fundamental human marker.” (Elinor Fuchs, Professor Emerita of Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism, Yale School of Drama, USA)

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