The Plays of Benn Levy: Between Shaw and Coward

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Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press, 1994 - 220 pagini
A dramatist divided in his life between politics and the theatre, Benn Levy (1900-1973) is the author of more than twenty witty, literate comedies and dramas that span the middle of the twentieth century and are a mirror of the age. In The Plays of Benn Levy, Susan Rusinko arranges the plays chronologically, analyzing them in the context of contemporary dramatists and the influences that shaped their writing - in Levy's case, most notably George Bernard Shaw. Levy's plays reflect interests and styles similar to those of more famous contemporaries such as Noel Coward, James Barrie, and Terence Rattigan. In addition to his stage plays, Levy wrote scripts in the early years of cinema, adapted the plays of continental dramatists, collaborated with other dramatists, directed his plays and those of other playwrights, spent time in America where many of his plays were produced, and lived to help repeal in 1968 the detested theatre-licensing bill, a battle he had begun to fight during his term in Parliament in the late 1940s.
The theme of Levy's first stage play, This Woman Business (1925), is the Shavian battle of the sexes, an idea that threads its way through most of his plays and culminates in his Giraudoux-like comic adaptation of the Amazonian adventures of Theseus and Heracles (The Rape of the Belt, 1957) and his last play, a realistic problem play (The Member for Gaza, 1966) which, despite its seeming political topicality, echoes with eerie contemporaneity nearly thirty years later.
Levy's plays provide a retrospective on the theatrical currents dominating the English (and American) stages during the middle part of the twentieth century, prior to the English stage revolution begun in l956 with John Osbourne's Look Back in Anger. This book intends to put Levy's plays into that perspective.

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Introduction Chronicler of an Age
19251928 Contemporary Attitudes
A Man with Red Hair 1928
Mud and Treacle or The Course of True Love 1928
A Piece of Pastiche in Three Acts 1928
19291931 Games of Truth
A Religious Comedy in Three Acts and a Prologue 1930
Topaze 1930
Cupid and Psyche 1952
The Rape of the Belt 1957
19461966 Tribalism and Myth
The Tumbler 1960
Public and Confidential 1966
A Miscellany
Conclusions Mirror to an Age
Anatomy of the Theatre

Hollywood Holiday 1931
Springtime for Henry 1931
19361940 Women and the Social Structure
A Life of Don Juan 1937
Madame Bovary 1937
The Jealous God 1939
19461966 Playful Philosophical Debates
The Position Stated
The Censorship
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Pagina 114 - The moon shines bright : — In such a night as this, When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees, And they did make no noise ; in such a night, Troilus, methinks, mounted the Trojan walls, And sigh'd his soul toward the Grecian tents, Where Cressid lay that night.
Pagina 77 - Guido, with a burnt stick in his hand, demonstrating on the smooth paving-stones of the path, that the square on the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle is equal to the sum of the squares on the other two sides.
Pagina 71 - ... Certainly not. He is not a person. What vanity is it that tempts you to invest him with your own little human attributes ? PAUL, [banging her fists madly against the desk she has been crying on] I tell you my heart is broken: broken, do you hear ? Does that mean nothing to you ? NICHOLAS. Nothing: less than nothing. Every little tinpot philosopher has been able to see that fame and money are blind alleys; but it took a Plato to discover that so also is beauty; and a Jesus of Nazareth to point...
Pagina 50 - I'll see that you keep that sleek, bushy tail glistening as it should, because you're a very beautiful squirrel, but you're none too bright either, so we've got to be careful. There are cruel steel traps lying about everywhere, just waiting for rather mad, slightly satanic, and very timid little animals.
Pagina 195 - ... followed from time immemorial, and any other way is wrong, is contrary to custom, to law. Law, for the Andaman Islander, means that there is an order of the universe, characterised by absolute uniformity; this order was established once for all in the time of the ancestors, and is not to be interfered with, the results of any such interference being evil, ranging from merely minor ills such as disappointment or discomfort to great calamities. The law of compensation is absolute. Any deviation...
Pagina 73 - I merely shewed you that you couldn't. That is my work. PAUL, [still sobbing bitterly] If there were a God, he wouldn't let you draw another breath. NICHOLAS, [continuing smoothly] When you are told that God is omnipotent, it merely means that in the long run he has you all on the end of a string. He may hold some on a longer, looser string than others, but the string is there, always there. It is a mistake to strain at it: it only hurts. That much I think I have been able to demonstrate. A circle...
Pagina 106 - Good-bye. (She takes his face in her hands; and as he divines her intention and bends his knee, she kisses his forehead. Then he flies out into the night. She turns to Morell, holding out her arms to him.) Ah, James! (They embrace. But they do not know the secret in the poet's heart...
Pagina 49 - Laughton has made so subtle, so revoltingly brilliant a study of his sadistic obsession that the man, and through him the play, is well-nigh intolerable. Mr. Laughton by face, by voice, above all, by imaginative bodily movement, compels suspension of disbelief.
Pagina 195 - ... good serviceable weapon, whereas the wrong way will give an inferior or useless one. The Andaman Islander tends to look at the matter from a different angle; the right way is right because it is the one that has been followed from time immemorial, and any other way is wrong, is contrary to custom, to law. Law, for the Andaman Islander, means that there is an order of the universe, characterised by absolute uniformity; this order was established once for all in the time of the ancestors, and is...

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