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The Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance: Two volumes - by Dennis Kennedy


The Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance: Two volumes by Dennis Kennedy

This new encyclopedia from Oxford views theater and performance as "human expressions with large cultural significance." These expressions extend beyond traditional theater to include opera, film, dance, radio, and even circuses, rituals, and parades. The 4,300 alphabetically arranged entries span all time periods, starting with ancient Greek theater to the present, and are international and cross-cultural in scope. Entries range from a small paragraph to several pages; only the longer entries have brief bibliographies. There is, however, a general bibliography, divided up geographically and consisting of only monographs, at the end of volume 2.

Almost half (around 45 percent) of the subject matter consists of biographical entries on actors, playwrights, directors, designers, company managers, and critics (e.g., Ferber, Edna; Ferron, Jacques). Ten percent consists of city and regional entries (Istanbul, Philadelphia). The rest consists of concepts and theories (Pornography and performance); styles and movements (Alternative theatre, Ballad opera); historical themes (Ghost); organizations and institutions (Czech National Theatre); buildings and material elements (Amphitheatre); and media issues (Cyber theatre). A thematic table of contents divides entries into these eight categories, offering alternative access. There is also a "Selective Index of Dramatic Titles" that lists works and the entries in which they are mentioned (for example, Rent is discussed in the Musical play entry). This helps to compensate for the fact that there are no main entries on individual play titles. Additional features of the set include a list of the scholarly editors and contributors with brief biographical information, cross-references, occasional black-and-white illustrations, and a time line that situates key historical and cultural events with corresponding theater and performance events.

There are several reference theater books currently available that touch on some similar ground. Which one is the best depends on the features being sought. For example, International Dictionary of Theatre (St. James, 1992) offers better coverage of individual plays. The six-volume World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theatre (Routledge, 1994) has even more detailed international coverage of current theater practice in other countries but lacks comparable ease of access. Continuum Companion to Twentieth Century Theatre (Continuum, 2002) is a less scholarly alternative for recent theater. Ultimately, although The Cambridge Guide to Theatre (rev. ed., Cambridge, 1995) remains the most comprehensive single-volume reference source and, at $50, is relatively cheap, The Oxford Encyclopedia is a solid set, recommended for academic and large libraries with strong theater collections. RBB

Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved



Available On:
The Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance: Two volumes on Hardcover

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Released: 2003





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