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Dramatism and Musical Theater

Experiments in Rhetorical Performance

Kimberly Eckel Beasley and James P. Beasley

Dramatism and Musical Theater: Experiments in Rhetorical Performance is an innovative workbook for both students and teachers in advanced communication performance. Meeting at the nexus of English composition, advanced rhetoric, theater, music, and drama, this book utilizes Kenneth Burke's method of dramatism to discover the motives inherent in performance practices, whether they be in the classroom or on the stage. In this book Kimberly Eckel Beasley and James P. Beasley take the five corners of the dramatistic pentad (act, scene, agent, agency, and purpose) and demonstrate their utilization in performance analysis. The authors then correlate those performance practices with the production of five contemporary musicals: Little Women, Aida, Street Scene, Into the Woods, and Children of Eden in order to emphasize the use of the dramatistic pentad in character, scene, and staging direction. By doing so, the book highlights dramatism as a performance practice necessary for effective participation in artistic communities.

Dramatism and Musical Theater: Experiments in Rhetorical Performance is also an indispensable guide for teachers and directors to successfully navigate the challenges of collegiate theatrical production.

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Writing this together with James, I’d first like to thank him for including me in his scholarship and in the vision he has had for more than a decade of researching Kenneth Burke and Burke’s theory of dramatism and using it to elevate the writing of a writer, the acting of an actor, and the performing of a performer. That Jim has always been inspired by Burke’s theory, encouraging me as a director to utilize it in production, has changed the way I approach a show with my cast—my students. Thank you to my fellow design colleagues at Jacksonville University who have tirelessly seen my productions through from start to finish. Thank you to my fellow voice colleagues at JU, whose teaching of singing is sound and solid as we together support each other and our students in their craft. Thank you to the Kurt Weill Foundation for their College/ University Performance grant that helped make Street Scene, an American Opera possible. Thank you to the cast, crew, and musicians of every production featured in this book. Without the combined efforts of on stage, back stage, and under the stage, none of this is a reality. And special thanks to the cast of my first musical at JU, Little Women, the first to experience Kenneth Burke’s pentad and go with the flow. You are all “astonishing”!

Writing this together with Kimberly, I’d first like to thank her for including me in her scholarship and in...

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