Cultural Calisthenics

Overview

Robert Brustein’s new book is not simply a collection of his theatre writings. It also functions as a precise barometer of contemporary society, measuring the pressures of our current cultural climate. Never one to shy away from controversy, Mr. Brustein includes in this new volume accounts of his celebrated Town Hall debate with August Wilson over the issue of segregated casting; his spirited defense of the national Endowment for the Arts against its enemies on the political right; his eloquent response to the ...
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Overview

Robert Brustein’s new book is not simply a collection of his theatre writings. It also functions as a precise barometer of contemporary society, measuring the pressures of our current cultural climate. Never one to shy away from controversy, Mr. Brustein includes in this new volume accounts of his celebrated Town Hall debate with August Wilson over the issue of segregated casting; his spirited defense of the national Endowment for the Arts against its enemies on the political right; his eloquent response to the impact of political correctness on the theatre and the university; and his forthright criticism of what he calls "coercive philanthropy"—the tendency of funding agencies to impose their own political and social agendas on artistic institutions. He closes with deft portraits of some of the people he believes have enhanced the art of the theatre he has written about for more than forty years, including Chekhov, Brecht, Sam Shepard, Orson Welles, Eugene Ionesco, Stella Adler, Joe Papp, and William Shakespeare. Cultural Calisthenics shows Mr. Brustein at his best: an outstanding critic of drama and a prescient observer of our times.
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Editorial Reviews

Dramatist
Cutting edge...one hopes that all the heavy breathing in these essays will engender others to join in this vigorous calisthenic workout.
Boston Phoenix
Passionate!
— Carolyn Clay
American Theatre
Brusteinís writing is good for the artists and good for the ever-dwindling discourse on theatre.
— Daniel Mufson
New York Times
Elegant and eloquent...Robert Brustein is the chief Cultural Imperialist.
— Lippincott, Robin
Review Of Higher Education
Provocative and controversial...Brustein is unafraid to go against the grain.
— Hap Erstein
The New York Times
Elegant and eloquent...Robert Brustein is the chief Cultural Imperialist.
— Robin Lippincott
Boston Phoenix - Carolyn Clay
Passionate!
American Theatre - Daniel Mufson
Brusteinís writing is good for the artists and good for the ever-dwindling discourse on theatre.
Review Of Higher Education - Hap Erstein
Provocative and controversial...Brustein is unafraid to go against the grain.
The New York Times - Robin Lippincott
Elegant and eloquent...Robert Brustein is the chief Cultural Imperialist.
Washington Post
Provocative and controversial...Brustein is unafraid to go against the grain.
— Hap Erstein
Lippincott
Elegant and eloquent...Robert Brustein is the chief Cultural Imperialist.
New York Times
Hap Erstein
Provocative and controversial...Brustein is unafraid to go against the grain.
Washington Post
Daniel Mufson
Brustein's writing is good for the artists and good for the ever-dwindling discourse on theatre.
— American Theatre
Clay
Passionate!
The Boston Phoenix.
Dramatist
Cutting edge...one hopes that all the heavy breathing in these essays will engender others to join in this vigorous callisthenic workout.
Robin Lippincott
Brustein is an elegant and eloquent voice in the wilderness of contemporary American culture.
Jack Helbig
Witty, fascinating, trenchant . . . Brustein gleefully gores sacred cows left and right.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781566632669
  • Publisher: Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
  • Publication date: 7/28/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.46 (w) x 8.82 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Brustein, theatre critic for the New Republic and is the author of Dumbocracy in America, Reimagining American Theatre, The Theatre of Revolt, and The Siege of the Arts. He is also founder and artistic director of the American Repertory Theatre at Harvard University.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Introduction 3
Part 1. Positions: Race and Politics
Coercive Philanthropy 7
A Modest Proposal for the NEA 16
Subsidized Separatism 19
More Noise Than Funk (Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk) 26
On Cultural Power 31
Slate Diary 38
Slate Diary #2 39
The Smashing of the Bell 41
The Death of the Collective Ideal 47
Gardens and Showcases 52
Homogenized Diversity (A Doll's House; How I Learned to Drive; Gross Indecency) 55
Funding Audiences 61
The Decline of Serious Culture 66
Part 2. Productions: At Home
Aspects of Arthur Miller (Broken Glass; The Ride Down Mount Morgan) 75
P.C. Whipped (Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992; Politically Incorrect) 81
The American Mouth (Sally Marr ... and her escorts; SubUrbia) 87
Shakespeare in Our Time (All's Well That Ends Well; The Tempest) 91
The Roots of Love (Passion) 98
The Merchant of Venice Beach (The Merchant of Venice) 102
Plays for the Parch (Simpatico; The Waiting Room; Death Defying Acts) 106
Boat Show (Show Boat) 112
Intellect into Passion (Slavs; Hapgood) 116
The Rehabilitation of Edward Albee (Three Tall Women) 121
On a Cold Planet (Roberto Zucco; Mathew in the School of Life) 124
Alice in Wilsonland (Alice; Four Saints in Three Acts) 129
The New Bohemia (Rent; The Green Bird) 134
Revisiting Plays (Night of the Iguana; A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; A Delicate Balance) 139
Resident Theatre Hopes (The Tempest; Venus; The Dance of Death) 144
The Quest of Robert Lepage (The Seven Streams of the River Ota) 149
Killer Chorines (Chicago) 153
The Descent of Man (The Hairy Ape) 158
Restoring a Ruined Colossus (More Stately Mansions) 162
The Lionized Queen (The Lion King) 167
Musicals with a Message (Ragtime; The Capeman; La Boheme Noir) 171
The Two O'Neills (Ah, Wilderness!; The Emperor Jones) 176
Part 3. Productions: From Abroad
The Royal Shakespeare Company (Hamlet; Artists and Admirers; Richard III) 181
The Royal Court (The Man of Mode; The Libertine; Blasted) 186
A Theatre Marking Time (Medea; Tamburlaine the Great; The Tempest; King Lear) 191
England Reaches Out (Mother Courage; Les Enfants du Paradis; Hysteria) 196
The Gaulois Duchess (The Duchess of Malfi; Skylight) 201
Death March (The Mountain Giants) 204
The Rebirth of Irish Drama (The Steward of Christendom; The Beauty Queen of Leenane; The Cripple of Inishmaan) 207
The Comedie Francaise 211
The Moscow Art Theatre 216
Part 4. People of the Theatre
Stella for Star 223
Joe Papp's America 229
Orson Welles: The Poor Caretaker 235
Brecht and His Women 242
Shakespeare and Harold Bloom 250
Shepard's Choice 257
Christopher Durang's Poison Pen 263
Ionesco's Memories 268
The Sex Life of Anton Chekhov 271
Index 276
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