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The Playwright's Art: Conversations with Contemporary American Dramatists

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This collection contains in-depth original and lively interviews with fifteen of America’s leading contemporary playwrights––Edward Albee, Robert Anderson, Alice Childress, John Guare, A. R. Gurney, Beth Henley, Henry David Hwang, Larry L. King, Jerome Lawrence, Terrence McNally, Ntozake Shange, Neil Simon, Jean-Claude van Itallie, Wendy Wasserstein, and Lanford Wilson. Taken together, the careers of these dramatists span the entire history of the last fifty years of American theater. The writers talk freely ...

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Overview

This collection contains in-depth original and lively interviews with fifteen of America’s leading contemporary playwrights––Edward Albee, Robert Anderson, Alice Childress, John Guare, A. R. Gurney, Beth Henley, Henry David Hwang, Larry L. King, Jerome Lawrence, Terrence McNally, Ntozake Shange, Neil Simon, Jean-Claude van Itallie, Wendy Wasserstein, and Lanford Wilson. Taken together, the careers of these dramatists span the entire history of the last fifty years of American theater. The writers talk freely about how they shape a play, how they participate in the production process, and how they feel about film adaptations of their work. The playwrights also dissect the changes that have occurred in the American theater since the Second World War, such as the increased costs of production and tickets, the shift in focus and style of theater critics, the absence of original plays on Broadway, and the growth of regional, off-Broadway, and off-off Broadway theater. The Playwright’s  Art includes an excellent, comprehensive, historical overview of contemporary American drama by Jackson Bryer.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``Creativity is very difficult to talk about,'' warns veteran playwright Robert Anderson. Nevertheless, he and 14 of America's leading dramatists participate in an entertaining and at times revealing discussion about the creative process-despite an overall lack of focus occasioned by multiple interviewers. As Bryer, a professor of English at the University of Maryland and co-editor of Selected Letters of Eugene O'Neill, says in his introduction, the intention was to ``deal with the mysteries of that `irrational act' [playwriting], as well as with the changing face of the American theatre during the past half century.'' In light of this, it is odd that the book is organized alphabetically rather than chronologically, making it difficult to draw comparisons between writers of a period or to follow the progression of dramatic writing. The playwrights hold forth quotably on a range of topics, and if certain recurrent questions are generically probing (``What terrifies you?''), the playwrights rise to the challenge. When asked simply ``How did you become a playwright?'' Terrance McNally launches into a four-page response that is practically a one-act play. Critics are characterized by Neil Simon as ``The R-rated part of the conversation.'' And Ntozake Shange confesses that she prefers writing novels to plays ``because I don't have to talk to anybody.'' If the book is ultimately a bit disappointing, the fault seems to lie in Edward Albee's answer to what terrifies him: ``Not being asked wonderful questions.'' (Feb.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813521299
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/1994
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 344
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.78 (d)

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