Three recently released reading selections for theater-lovers offer a variety of themes, from the Elizabethan era to mid-century America to a compendium of short plays by an acclaimed contemporary British writer.
Shakespeare and Emilia: The Untold Story by Peter Bassano – An exhaustively researched, meticulously detailed, scholarly investigation presents previously unpublished evidence and quotations from Shakespeare’s writings to support the belief that the “Dark Lady” in his sonnets was correctly identified by A.L. Rowse in 1973, as proto-feminist Venetian musician and poet Emilia Bassano Lanier. The book, written by a descendant of her uncle Anthony Bassano (who was brought to London by Henry VIII in 1540, for his wedding to Anne of Cleves), painstakingly reconstructs a timeline of their overlapping biographies, travels, and inter-relationships, notes numerous examples of the strong similarities and numerous musical references in their works, and suggests that their presumed sexual liaisons resulted in Shakespeare’s fathering of Emilia’s son Henry, born in 1593. While advancing the theory that she inspired many of his writings and that his connection to her aroused his interest in using Italy as the setting for several of his plays, the densely packed study convincingly disputes the unsubstantiated claims that Emilia was the true creator of Shakespeare’s works.
ISBN: 9798565403886, Giustiniani Publications, December 17, 2020, 309 pages, paperback, $15.00.
Reginald Rose and the Journey of 12 Angry Men by Phil Rosenzweig – Drawing on his extensive research and years of teaching management courses, the author traces the evolution of one of the most celebrated dramas of the 20th century in this first biography of NYC’s Reginald Rose (a lead writer in the mid-century’s Golden Age of Television) and study of his courtroom masterpiece championing socially conscious themes of legal justice and civil rights. Beginning with Rose’s jury duty on a 1954 manslaughter case that inspired the work, through its early drafts and multiple revisions, to its premiere on CBS’s Studio One anthology television series later that year, subsequent adaptation for the iconic 1957 Oscar-nominated motion picture (directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Henry Fonda as the lone dissenter against prejudice), and its popularity as a stage play (which made its Tony-nominated Broadway debut with Roundabout Theatre Company in 2004, 50 years after the original TV version), the book is filled with fascinating information, photos, and insights into the man and his work’s socio-historical context.
ISBN: 9780823297740, Fordham University Press, September 7, 2021, 314 pages, hardcover, $27.95.
Glass. Kill. Bluebeard. Imp. and Other Shorts by Caryl Churchill – Theatre Communication Group’s new collection of ten provocative short plays by one of England’s most esteemed living playwrights (b. 1938) epitomizes her signature use of non-naturalistic techniques and experimentation with dramatic structure in fragmented surreal narratives inspired by Antonin Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty. Churchill’s startling post-modernist ruminations on fragility and death, sacrifice and murder, victimization and violence reference her themes’ shocking socio-cultural history from antiquity to the present, with a contemporary feminist focus on sexual politics, race, war, and the abuse of power. If you enjoy being challenged by imaginative writing on timeless critical issues, be sure to add this book to your library.
ISBN: 9781559369848, Theatre Communications Group, August 24, 2021, 162 pages, paperback, $16.95.