Vol 28 no.1

Editorial Comment

In JADT’s inaugural issue co-editors Vera Mowry Roberts and Walter J. Meserve declared their intentions for launching the fledgling journal, stating: “our aim is to promote research on American playwrights, American plays, and American theatre, and to encourage the thoughtful contemplation that will lead to a more enlightened understanding of our literary and theatrical heritage and of America’s continuing contribution to world literature and the performing arts.” Nearly thirty years on and almost eighty issues later, JADT honors the original mission of the founding editors. Since 1989, however, the research terrain has shifted dramatically, and the publishing landscape has altered considerably. Our focus is now more inclusive as we endeavor to promote research on theatre and performance not just of the US, but of the Americas; and our venue is no longer a print edition with a run of about four hundred copies, but a digital platform that can reach thousands of potential readers.

This current issue reflects our latest modification: we are delighted to introduce JADT’s newest addition, a book review section. This space will highlight the ongoing and vital research in our expanding field and provide a platform for both emerging and established scholars to explore the ways in which literary and theatrical heritages in the Americas are forged, contemplated, and understood. We are confident Roberts and Meserve, both pioneering theatre historians and academics, would be thrilled to widen the discourse.

We begin this special issue with a look at the current state of the field by focusing in on the areas of expertise of several JADT board members. Each piece is a short, informal, and engaging take on the trends, developments, and shifts the author sees in her or his respective area. We are delighted to include contributions from Michael Y. Bennett, Kevin Byrne, Jorge Huerta, Esther Kim Lee, Jordan Schildcrout, Maurya Wickstrom, and Stacy Wolf.

As readers of JADT have come to expect, the issue showcases the work of notable scholars in the field. The two articles selected for inclusion here employ innovative historical and theoretical approaches in the analysis of performances, dramatic texts, and audience reception within their cultural contexts. The first, “‘Re-righting’ Finland’s Winter War: Robert E. Sherwood’s There Shall Be No Night[s]” by Thomas F. Connolly, uses the methodological tools of microhistory to analyze Sherwood’s Pulitzer-Prize winning play as a call-to-arms for a war-wary United States. Connolly urges us to consider how critically-acclaimed dramas performed in shifting political and social circumstances endure or vanish. In the second article, “Star Struck!: The Phenomenological Affect of Celebrity on Broadway,” Peter Zazzali considers the role of celebrity in the success of screen actors on Broadway stages, and the impact such star turns have on the perception of the art of acting. He argues that celebrity is a socially induced phenomenon that results in regressive perceptions of stage acting, and by extension, the art of theatre, and examines the phenomenological connection between “stars” and their adoring audience in the context of Broadway.

This issue concludes with our first collection of book reviews, edited by Susan Kattwinkel at the University of Charleston. The range of books reviewed further testify to the richness of our field and provide insight into recent publications in Antebellum American and LGBTQ Theatre. These reviews are of Gay Gibson Cima’s Performing Anti-slavery: Activist Women on Antebellum Stages, reviewed by Heather Nathans; Douglas A. Jones, Jr.’s The Captive Stage: Performance and the Proslavery Imagination of the Antebellum North, reviewed by Beck Holden; Jordan Schildcrout’s Murder Most Queer: The Homicidal Homosexual in the American Theater, reviewed by Laura Dorwart; and Daniel J. Watermeier’s American Tragedian: The Life of Edwin Booth reviewed by Karl Kippola. We are delighted to launch the book review section with these four, and look forward to future submissions that represent these and other areas of our journal’s mission. If you know of a publication suitable for review in JADT, please send the information to kattwinkels@cofc.edu. A list of books received can be found at www.susankattwinkel.com and individuals interested in writing reviews for future issues, should consult this list and contact Susan Kattwinkel directly.

We are grateful for Susan Kattwinkel’s herculean efforts in launching the book review section, as well as for the support of our incredible editorial board, managing editors, and the staff of the Martin E. Segal Center. And finally, we hope the state-of-the-field essays, scholarly articles, and book reviews published here, in the words of JADT’s founding editors, encourage thoughtful contemplation leading to a more enlightened understanding. They have for us.

Naomi J. Stubbs and James F. Wilson

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