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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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On February 26, 2017, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented awards for the best films of 2016. It was the first Academy Awards Ceremony since Donald J. Trump had been elected president, and it was not even two months into the new administration. In those two short months, however, Trump’s administration had already banned citizens from several Muslim countries, creating chaos in the immigration system and on travel infrastructures. Many actors had condemned President Trump for his policies, and even more for his demagoguery toward people of color at home and abroad. Even the host, Jimmy Kimmel, began his opening monologue by saying, “This broadcast is being seen by over 200 million people in over 200 countries. All of them who now hate us.”1 Yet, just before the broadcastbegan, Justin Timberlake entered the auditorium singing, “I got this feelin/ inside my bones/ ,” the beginning verse of his smash hit, “Can’t Stop the Feeling.”2 For the first five full minutes of the broadcast, everyone in the auditorium was standing and singing along, a chorus of dance and emotion. The moment brought together everyone in the room, as if they needed to exhale for a bit and just enjoy that moment. When I use the word “chorus” here, I do so in its classical sense, coming from the Greek word chora, which implies a gathering together, and chora is one of the most important concepts in the larger meaning of rhetoric. While rhetoric comes from...

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