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The Cambridge Companion to Theatre and Science


Part of Cambridge Companions to Theatre and Performance

Kirsten E. Shepherd-Barr, Dan Rebellato, Jane Goodall, Carina Bartleet, Carl Lavery, Una Chaudhuri, Joshua Williams, Stanton B. Garner, Jr, Fintan Walsh, Jonathan Venn, Mike Vanden Heuvel, Michael Carklin, Rhonda Blair, Amy Cook, Frédérique Aït-Touati.
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  • Date Published: December 2020
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108700986

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About the Authors
  • Theatre has engaged with science since its beginnings in Ancient Greece. The intersection of the two disciplines has been the focus of increasing interest to scholars and students. The Cambridge Companion to Theatre and Science gives readers a sense of this dynamic field, using detailed analyses of plays and performances covering a wide range of areas including climate change and the environment, technology, animal studies, disease and contagion, mental health, and performance and cognition. Identifying historical tendencies that have dominated theatre's relationship with science, the volume traces many periods of theatre history across a wide geographical range. It follows a simple and clear structure of pairs and triads of chapters that cluster around a given theme so that readers get a clear sense of the current debates and perspectives.

    • Provides a broad chronological span, considering theatre and science from their early pre-modern interactions to the present day
    • Covers a wide range of topics, including issues such as climate change, animal studies, and cognition
    • Brings together examples of performance and texts to highlight the importance of considering both in academic discussion of theatre's interaction with science
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This is a mind-expanding book. It not only shows that theatre and science have been interacting for centuries but offers a series of pathfinding essays on subjects ranging from mental health to plague and infection. It establishes beyond doubt that theatre and science are indissolubly linked and challenges, informs and stimulates the reader at every turn.' Michael Billington

    'The Cambridge Companion to Theatre and Science is a masterpiece of interdisciplinarity, bringing together any number of disciplines perhaps formerly thought to have nothing in common. And no one is currently better situated than Kirsten E. Shepherd-Barr to undertake such a project. The choice of essay topics is varied and expansive, and the selected contributors are drawn from an international list of the most exciting thinkers currently pursuing ways to see, understand, and enjoy the rich interplay between theatre and science.' William W. Demastes, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge

    'This Companion is a powerful contribution to the field. From experiments to the Anthropocene, bestiaries to bodies, pathogens to meteors to back-stage technologies, it demonstrates the enormous range of contemporary thinking on the connections running between theatre and science - and delivers this in a way that manages to be both invigorating and deeply enjoyable.' Tiffany Watt-Smith, Queen Mary University of London

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2020
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108700986
    • length: 300 pages
    • dimensions: 150 x 230 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.34kg
    • contains: 8 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction Kirsten E. Shepherd-Barr
    1. Objectivity & observation Dan Rebellato
    2. Staging consciousness: Metaphor as thought-experiment in McBurney's staging of beware of pity Jane Goodall
    3. The experimental/experiential stage: extreme states of being of and knowing in the theatre Carina Bartleet
    4. A cave, a skull, and a little piece of grit: theatre in the anthropocene Carl Lavery
    5. The play at the end of the world: deke weaver's unreliable bestiary and the theatre of extinction Una Chaudhuri and Joshua Williams
    6. Bodies of knowledge: theatre and medical science Stanton B. Garner, Jr
    7. Pathogenic performativity: urban contagion and fascist affect Fintan Walsh
    8. Theatres of mental health Jonathan Venn
    9. Devised theatre and the performance of science Mike Vanden Heuvel
    10. Theatre and science as social intervention Michael Carklin
    11. Acting and science Rhonda Blair
    12. Staging cognition: how performance shows us how we think Amy Cook
    13. Clouds and meteors: recreating wonder on the early modern stage Frédérique Aït-Touati
    14. The stage hand's lament”: scenography, technology, and off-stage Labour Kirsten E. Shepherd-Barr.

  • Editor

    Kirsten E. Shepherd-Barr, University of Oxford
    Kirsten E. Shepherd-Barr is Professor of English and Theatre Studies at the University of Oxford. Her publications include Science on Stage: From Doctor Faustus to Copenhagen (2006), Theatre and Evolution from Ibsen to Beckett (2015), Modern Drama: A Very Short Introduction (2016), and Twentieth-Century Approaches to Literature: Late Victorian into Modern (2016), coedited with Laura Marcus and Michèle Mendelssohn and shortlisted for the Modernist Studies Association book prize.


    Kirsten E. Shepherd-Barr, Dan Rebellato, Jane Goodall, Carina Bartleet, Carl Lavery, Una Chaudhuri, Joshua Williams, Stanton B. Garner, Jr, Fintan Walsh, Jonathan Venn, Mike Vanden Heuvel, Michael Carklin, Rhonda Blair, Amy Cook, Frédérique Aït-Touati.

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