Popular Performance




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Bloomsbury Methuen Drama



Peer reviewed



There is no fourth wall in popular performance. The show is firmly rooted in the here and now, and the performers address the audience directly, while the audience answer back with laughter, applause or heckling. The main purpose is to entertain, and there is no shame in being trivial, frivolous or nonsensical as long as people go home happy at the end of the show. Performer and role are interlaced, so that we are left uncertain about just how the persona we see onstage might relate to the private person who presents it to us. This book takes popular performance seriously as a legitimate form of artistic endeavour, particularly focusing on how it is made and explaining the techniques of performance and production that make it so appealing to audiences. Contributions by new and established scholars examine a range of historical and contemporary forms, including music hall, vaudeville, variety, cabaret, pantomime, wild west shows, clowning, street performance, magic, burlesque, stand-up, and live sketch comedy.

Key features: • The first book to define and examine a particular mode of popular performance which is an increasingly important area for academic research (as epitomised by the TaPRA Popular Performance working group) and university teaching. • Examines a range of historical and contemporary forms through case studies, which allow for both detailed analysis of particular examples and the identification of general principles. • Focuses on how popular performance is made, examining production and performance techniques.



Drama, Performance, Popular Performance


Ainsworth, A., Double, O. and Peacock, L. (eds) (2017) Popular Performance. London: Bloomsbury Methuen


Research Institute