Critical Articles

From Assassins to West Side Story: The Director’s Guide to Musical Theatre- Scott Miller

This work is the cornerstone of my research. As one of the few critical articles on Pippin, it examines the play’s themes, structure, and purpose. Miller discusses reasons why the musical is overlooked and misunderstood, the development, insight into understanding the meta-theatrical world of Pippin, metaphors, and key imagery. Most significantly, Miller argues that the Players are in Pippin’s imagination, making Pippin himself responsible for his failures. While Schwartz and Miller both believe that Pippin is a universal everyman, his suicidal thoughts can be heightened so that Pippin is not average, but mentally ill.

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Everyman Has His Daydreams: Pippin, a Shockingly Medieval Musical- Paul B. Sturtevant

Sturtevant analyzes Pippin as a medieval morality play, comparing it to Everyman and relates the journey to the history of the late 1960’s and 1970’s. As we follow Pippin’s quest to find life, lead by Leading Player (Death) we discover that war, hedonism, and politics are inadequate focuses. Pippin learns when confronted with his death, that one should settle for a modest life with a family.

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Musical Storm and Mental Stress: Trauma and Instability in Contemporary American Musical Theatre- Esther Terry

Terry argues that Pippin fits a diagnosis for PTSD. After experiencing the trauma of war, he is unable to silence the players, who provoke his symptoms. Symptoms of PTSD include re-experiencing trauma (nightmares and flashbacks) and avoiding the trauma.  Terry notes that Pippin re-experiences the trauma by the players manipulation- leading him to sexual acts and murder- and his stance of anti-violence. While I believe that Pippin suffers from depression, PTSD is an interesting diagnosis considering Pippin was written during the Vietnam War, which is highly associated with PTSD.

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Psychotherapy and the Pursuit of Happiness- Ronald Dworkin

Dworkin breaks down the history of mental health care in the United States from the 1940’s to 70’s. He analyzes the development of psychiatric and psychological practices in education, law, and in accordance with the public. He notes that during the 1960’s, there was a shift from long-term psychotherapy to short term due to an increase in patients who wanted to find relief from their everyday lives. The 1970’s were labeled the Age of Depression due to its rise as well.

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Hegel and Self-actualization- John Rowan

John Rowan breaks down Hegel’s theory of self-actualization into three phases: Primary (mind), Social (consciousness), and Realizing (soul). These phases explain the development of one’s perspective of the world and themselves beginning in the womb. As Hegel’s theory influenced the creation of stories like Peer Gynt and Pippin in which a man searches to find meaning in his life, understanding the root of this theory is valuable.

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Mental Illness in Hegel’s Anthropology The Contradiction between Soul and Spirit- Serena Feloj

This article examines Hegel’s interpretation of mental illness compared to other philosophers at the time. Unlike them, he believed that the mentally ill maintained their rationality. He makes two points that can be applied to Pippin: that mental illness is “present within each subject” and that the mentally ill are “under the power of someone else’ based on Mesmer’s theory of magnetism. This is a start to examining Hegel’s work, which may have inspired Pippin’s quest for fulfillment.  Hegel’s theories of self-fulfillment and the individual journey (which influenced Ibsen’s Peer Gynt) will help to gauge why stories of searching for purpose are interesting to audiences.

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