By Jane Goodall
Routledge – 2006 – 224 pages
Focusing on examples of live performance in drama, dance, opera and light entertainment, Jane Goodall explores a characteristic as compelling and enigmatic as the performers who demonstrate it.
The mysterious quality of ‘presence’ in a performer has strong resonances with the uncanny. It is associated with primal, animal qualities in human individuals, but also has connotations of divinity and the supernatural, relating to figures of evil as well as heroism. Stage Presence traces these themes through theatrical history.
This fascinating study also explores the blend of science and spirituality that accompanies the appreciation of human power. Performers display a magnetism of their audiences; they electrify them, exhibit mesmeric command, and develop chemistry in their communication.
Case studies include: Josephine Baker, Sarah Bernhardt, Thomas Betterton, David Bowie, Maria Callas, Bob Dylan, David Garrick, Barry Humphries, Henry Irving, Vaslav Nijinsky and Paul Robeson.
'Goodall's ideas, examples and constructed conclusions are certainly guff-free… I was certainly educated about the history of several performers, of varying eras and crafts' - The Bookbag
'Goodall explores the way presence works with a commitment, verve and breadth of reference that makes her book a real pleasure to read.' - TLS
Introduction 1. The Supreme Attribute 2. Drawing Power 3. Mesmerism 4. Dash and Flash 5. Being Present. Bibliography. Index
Jane Goodall is a Professor with the Writing and Society Research Group at the University of Western Sydney. She is the author of Performance and Evolution in the Age of Darwin (Routledge 2002) and has published widely on experimental performance. She has also published several crime thrillers.