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Russia, Freaks and Foreigners
Three Performance Texts
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Price £21.50, $28.50
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ISBN 9781841501864
Paperback 224 pages
Published August 2008
Imprint: Intellect
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Books by James MacDonald
Books in Performing Arts
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Chapter Titles     |      Reviews     |      Comments

Russia, Freaks and Foreigners is a collection of three thematically linked plays set against the backdrop of a fractured, post-Soviet Russian society. Written by acclaimed playwright James MacDonald, who is cerebral palsied, these performance texts critique accepted notions of normality within authority, offering various models of difference – physical, cultural and moral – and their stories of dislocation. Their themes, contextualized here by companion essays, expand the boundaries of British drama and connect to the comic grotesque tradition by giving the ‘abnormal’ a broad appeal. To date, MacDonald is one of the few severely disabled playwrights to have their work staged and he deals with issues rarely covered in drama. Consequently, Russia, Freaks and Foreigners is a daring portrayal of disability from the inside.

Part of the Playtext series
Chapter titles
Introduction - Page 7
James MacDonald
'Bread and Circus Freaks' - Page 11
James MacDonald
'The Sweetheart Zone' - Page 67
James MacDonald
'Emigrés' - Page 133
James MacDonald
'Getting to Know James MacDonald' - Page 195
Peter Thomson
'Director’s Notes' - 201
Martin Harvey
'Freaks, Food and Fairy Tales: Confronting the Limits of Disability in Bread and Circus Freaks' - Page 207
Thomas Fahy
'Epilogue' - Page 217
Su Elliott
'[Bread and Circus Freaks] squarely addresses the clash between old and new Russia... and brings contemporary Russia interestingly into view.' – TLS

'It's always unsentimental, evocative and surprising. ' – Time Out

'James MacDonald writes very well and has a civilised attitude toward the theatre.' – Margaret Ramsay, Literary Agent

'The young woman and the old woman between them illustrate the chasms between hope and disillusionment, between naivety and experience and between thereby the old and new Russia. This opposition of expectations creates a strong bond between (them), the younger woman looking up to the older one, and she in turn gaining a fresh perspective on life.' – TLS (On Bread and Circus Freaks)

'MacDonald's play is successful at moving beyond metaphor, creating fully rounded characters who deal with the political, social and interpersonal dynamics of disability.' – Carrie Sandall, Assistant Professor of Theatre at Florida State University (on Balance is Stillness)

'For James MacDonald, humour is an essential survival mechanism [...] He seeks here to portray ‘otherness’ in general and disability in particular through the prism of Bakhtin’s concept of ‘carnival’. ' – East-West Review, Journal of the GB-Russia Society.

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