×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

The Playwright's Art: Conversations with Contemporary American Dramatists
     

The Playwright's Art: Conversations with Contemporary American Dramatists

by Jackson Bryer (Editor)
 
On the evening of January 29, 1948, a new musical, 'Look, Ma, I'm Dancin'!', opened at New York's New Adelphi Theatre, marking the Broadway debut of a young playwriting team, Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, who were responsible for the show's book. Forty-six years later, Lawrence and Lee are reworking their most recent play, Whisper In The Mind, for a potential New

Overview

On the evening of January 29, 1948, a new musical, 'Look, Ma, I'm Dancin'!', opened at New York's New Adelphi Theatre, marking the Broadway debut of a young playwriting team, Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, who were responsible for the show's book. Forty-six years later, Lawrence and Lee are reworking their most recent play, Whisper In The Mind, for a potential New York production, but the intervening decades have seen major changes in the landscape of the American theatre. Many of these changes are discussed and debated in this collection of interviews and are exemplified in the careers of the dramatists included.

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.)
Jack Helbig
Books of interviews with theater people have recently become common as dandelions. Good ones, sadly, have not, which is why it's such a treat that this one comes along and so successfully exploits the strengths of a good interview--informal conversational tone, greater intimacy with the subject--without falling into the usual pits: pointless or ill-informed questions; digressive, boring answers; and thoughtless, sloppy, Q&A-style transcriptions. Every fascinating, absorbing interview in this collection takes us on a rich journey through the mind of a living, working American playwright. We learn, for example, that Ntozake Shange's hit, "for colored girls", grew out of a series of poetry readings Shange conducted in the early 1970s; that John Guare was first produced because he was "an Aquarius"; and that none of the interviewees find the theater critic useful except as a kind of publicist for their shows. It's a rare interview book that contains as many insights into the joys and dilemmas of life in the theater as this one.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780813521282
Publisher:
Rutgers University Press
Publication date:
01/01/1995
Pages:
344
Product dimensions:
6.27(w) x 9.36(h) x 0.99(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews