In this collection of reviews and essays, most reprinted from the New Republic , the founder and artistic director of the American Repertory Theatre considers the state of American theater in the 1980s. Despite what he considers the artistic sterility of Broadway and the economic problems afflicting all theaters, he believes that ``we are in a period of theatrical renewal and change,'' finding American playwrights, directors and actors to be the artistic equals of their highly praised English colleagues. Brustein's passion for the theater informs every sentence: his reviews make absorbing reading whether or not one has seen the productions; the foreword and three introductory essays are compelling calls to honor and sustain creative effort in the theater. The author makes no secret of his prejudices. He prefers serious drama to musical comedy, regional theaters to Broadway, Joseph Papp's risk-taking New York Shakespeare Festival to the cautious Lincoln Center management. It's not necessary to share Brustein's opinions to enjoy his essays, which are provocative, challenging and alive with the conviction that ``a country without a theater is a country without a soul.'' (Sept.)
Most of the reviews and occasional essays in this collection by distinguished theater critic and dramaturge Brustein appeared in The New Republic during the past decade. They fit that magazine's editorial slant: progressive, yet skeptical of liberal sacred cows (including those of the theater community). The book's first two sections contain reviews of new plays, such as M. Butterfly and The Heidi Chronicles , and restagings of classics on and off Broadway and at major regional theaters. The third section features discussions of vital topics in the contemporary American theater, such as cross-cultural casting, censorship, and arts funding. Brustein is an issue-driven critic in the tradition of Bernard Shaw, and he offers commentary that is pungent, deeply considered, and eloquent. A worthwhile choice for collections specializing in serious literature and the performing arts.-- Anne Sharp, Ypsilanti Dist. Lib., Mich.
Reprint of the Hill & Wang edition of 1991 and beneficiary of very fulsome praise in PW (6/7/91), LJ (6/15/91), Booklist (9/1/91). Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Robert Sanford Brustein (born April 21, 1927 in New York City) is an American theatrical critic, producer, playwright and educator. He founded both Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut and the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he remains a Creative Consultant, and has been the theatre critic for The New Republic since 1959. He comments on politics for the Huffington Post.
Brustein is a Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University and a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Suffolk University in Boston. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1999 and in 2002 was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame. In 2003 he served as a Senior Fellow with the National Arts Journalism Program at Columbia University, and in 2004 and 2005 was a senior fellow at the National Endowment for the Arts Arts Journalism Institute in Theatre and Musical Theatre at the University of Southern California.
Robert Brustein is married to Doreen Beinart, and has one son, Daniel Brustein, and two stepchildren, Peter Beinart and Jean Beinart Stern.