These new essays explore the ways in which contemporary dramatists have retold or otherwise made use of myths, fairy tales and legends from a variety of cultures, including Greek, West African, North American, Japanese, and various parts of Europe. The dramatists discussed range from well-established playwrights such as Tony Kushner, Caryl Churchill, and Timberlake Wertenbaker to new theatrical stars such as Sarah Ruhl and Tarell Alvin McCraney. The book contributes to the current discussion of adaptation theory by examining the different ways, and for what purposes, plays revise mythic stories and characters. The essays contribute to studies of literary uses of myth by focusing on how recent dramatists have used myths, fairy tales and legends to address contemporary concerns, especially changing representations of women and the politics of gender relations but also topics such as damage to the environment and political violence.
Verna A. Foster —
Verna A. Foster is a professor of English at Loyola University Chicago. She is the author of numerous essays on modern drama. She lives in Chicago.
Dramatic revisions of myths, fairy tales and legends: essays on recent plays, ed. by Verna A. Foster. McFarland, 2012. 250p bibl index ISBN 0-7864-6512-3; ISBN 9780786465125. Reviewed in 2013may CHOICE.
Foster (Loyola Univ. Chicago) collects essays that explore recent "re-visions" of mythic materials by contemporary playwrights such as Tony Kushner, Caryl Churchill, Wallace Shawn, and Sarah Ruhl. The collection's reach is remarkable for going beyond classical mythology and treating mythic sources from Africa, Native America, eastern Europe, and Asia, among others. Approximately one third of the collection explores "re-visions" of classical sources; the remainder of the book ranges far afield and offers material sure to be new to readers across several disciplines, including experts in such fields as theater studies, mythology, literature, and gender studies. The collection is also remarkable in its fusion of theoretical concerns, demonstrating the intersections of the uses of mythic sources, issues of theatrical adaptation, evolving representations of gender, and the implications of these concerns for audience reception. If the book has a negative aspect, it is one often shared by such collections. Readers with a primary interest in one of the intertwined elements of the collection may wish for a narrower focus on their own interests. But those interested in the intersections explored and their broader social and political implications will find the collection a revelation.
Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. -- M. F. McClure, Virginia State University