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Theatre Bookshelf

A roundup of new publications.


High Energy Musicals From the Omaha Magic Theatre Broadway Play Publishing, New York, NY, 1983. 212 pp, $10 paper. Three original scripts from the Omaha Magic Theatre: American King’s English for Queens by Megan Terry and Lynn Herrick, an exploration of the effect of the English language on 20th century people; Running Gag by Jo Ann Schmidman, Megan Terry, Marianne de Pury and Lynn Herrick, a musical marathon that explores women’s struggle for personal independence; and Babes in the Bighouse by Megan Terry, Jo Ann Schmidman and John J. Sheehan, a fantasy-documentary about life in a women’s prison.

King Lear by Shakespeare, illus. Ian Pollock, Workman Publishing, New York, NY. 130 pp, $7.95 paper. Workman’s latest edition in a “comic book” Shakespeare series combines the complete and unabridged text with the eerie, almost expressionistic drawings of lan Pollock. Shakespeare’s mature, philosophical tone is well complemented by these distorted, linear figures and moody, watercolor landscapes.

History and Criticism

Great Theatrical Disasters by Gyles Brandreth, St. Martin’s Press, New York, NY, 1982. 141 pp, $18.95 cloth. From the telegram sent backstage at intermission by George S. Kaufman to the lead in Of Thee I Sing (“Am watching your performance from the rear of the house. Wish you were here.”) to the offstage response given to John Barrymore’s frantic whispers of “What’s the next line? What’s the line?” (“What’s the play?”), Gyles Brandreth has collected some of the most amusing anecdotes and blunders in theatrical history, involving a cast of characters ranging from Richard Brinsley Sheridan to Laurence Olivier.

The Actors Studio: A Player’s Place by David Garfield, Macmillan Publishing, New York, NY. 318 pp, $9.95 paper. Himself a member of the Studio since 1970, Garfield attempts to tear down the myth that has sprung up around Lee Strasberg and his Method and reveal the man and the institution in a more objective light. Garfield explores the roots of Strasberg’s theories in Stanislavski’s work and traces the development of the Method and its influence on the American theatre. Also included are a preface by Ellen Burstyn and a selected bibliography.

Actresses and Suffragists: Women in the American Theatre 1890-1920 by Albert Auster, Praeger Publishers, New York, NY. 176 pp, $29.95 cloth. Auster examines the social history of the theatre in the 19th century and the growth of the actress as a social and economic model for the women’s suffrage movement. Focusing on the lives of three actresses who actively supported the women’s movement—Mary Shaw, Lillian Russell and Ethel Barrymore—Austin attempts to reveal the powerful influence this new breed of women had on the early struggles of the feminists.

George Bernard Shaw by Arthur Ganz, Grove Press, New York, NY, 1983. 248 pp, $9.95 paper. Beginning with a brief inspection of Shaw’s development as critic and socialist thinker, Ganz analyzes the plays as both products of a unique mind and of British theatre at the turn of the century. In his study of the early and the mature plays, Ganz attempts to pinpoint the peculiar tension of Shavian drama, “at once lucid and optimistic, elusive and despair-ing,” stressing Shaw’s comic invention and his vision of human nature.

Luigi Pirandello by Susan Bassenett-McGuire, Grove Press, New York, NY, 1983. 190 pp, $9.95 paper. Perceiving a discrepancy between the “Italian Pirandello and the English Pirandello,” Bassenett-McGuire sets out to underscore not only the range of Pirandello’s dramaturgy but also his comic technique and radically innovative style—both are lost, he claims, to an English-speaking audience used to poor translations which emphasize the ponderous philosophy in the plays. This comprehensive study covers the body of Pirandello’s work and emphasizes the stylistic development seen over the course of his career.

New German Dramatists by Denis Calandra, Grove Press, New York, NY, 1983. 190 p, $9.95 paper. Taking the late ’60s as his starting point, Calandra divides the modern German theatre into two camps: the realist and political activists, exemplifed by the work of Franz Xaver Kroetz; and the romantic, anti-realists, represented by Peter Handke. Along with his detailed inspection of the work of these two authors, Calandra analyzes the work of Fassbinder, Heiner Müller, Thomas Brasch, Thomas Bernhard and Botho Strauss.

Stanislavski’s Encounter With Shakespeare: The Evolution of a Method by Joyce Vining Morgan, UMI Research Press, Ann Arbor, MI. 162 pP, $39.95 cloth. Drawing on unpublished material, interviews with members of his company and the work of Soviet scholars, Morgan reveals the development of Stanislavski’s system through an analysis of his early career as a director, and his work on Shakespeare in particular. She scrutinizes the preparation of two major productions, the 1902 naturalistic Julius Caesar and the more symbolic 1912 Hamlet.

Tom Stoppard by Thomas Whitaker, Grove Press, New York, NY, 1983. 177 pp, $9.95 paper. Taking Stoppard’s statement that “plavs are events rather than texts” as his starting point, Whitaker explores the verbal wit and visual farce of the plays as means of involving the audience in an examination of a very specific moral and aesthetic philosophy. Whitaker follows Stoppard’s line of development from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead through Travesties and Jumpers, and includes in his discussion the majority of the early radio and TV scripts and the most recent plays and adaptations. 


Dictionary of Literary Biography: Documentary Series Volume Four: Tennessee Williams, Margaret A Van Antwerp and Sally Johns, eds., Gale Research, Detroit, MI. 436 pp, $80 cloth. Focusing exclusively on the life and works of Williams, Volume Four of this series documents in chronological order the author’s literary and personal life with the author’s reviews, interviews, essays, magazine and journal articles, personal letters and obituaries. Copiously illustrated with personal photographs, production shots and documents, the work offers an in-depth analysis of Williams’ life and career from a variety of critical perspectives. Also included are a complete chronology of production and publication histories and an afterword by Louis Auchincloss.

The Oxford Companion to the Theatre 4th Edition, Phyllis Hartnoll, ed., Oxford University Press, Oxford, England, 1983. 934 Pp, $49.95 cloth. In its first new edition since 1967, this comprehensive volume attempts—with some unfortunate omissions—to update the history of world theatre by including important modern developments. With entries for countries, theatres, individuals, technical terms and disciplines within the industry such as costume, make-up, scenery, etc., the book remains a useful, if not exhaustive, reference guide. Included in the new edition are an extensive cross-referencing system an updated general bibliography.

Summer Theatre Jobs 1984 Mibs Bainum, ed., Theatre Crafts Books, New York, NY. 204 pp, $8.95 paper. The editors of Theatre Crafts magazine have expanded their annual summer employment guide into a separate publication. Catalogued by state, the book includes entries for over 200 theatres with employment information for artistic, administrative, design, technical and apprentice intern positions and complete contact information.

Theatre Careers: A Comprehensive Guide to Non-Acting Careers in the Theatre by Jan W. Greenberg, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, NY, 1983. 197 pp, $13.95 cloth. Geared toward the aspiring professional and the interested theatregoer, this book delineates the roles of various workers in both the commercial and nonprofit theatres by way of interviews with practicing professionals. Also included are union requirements and a brief list of useful publications.

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