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Theatre Bookshelf

Alfred Jarry, Samuel Beckett, Tennessee Williams, Judson Dance Theater, and more.

Alfred Jarry: The Man With the Axe by Nigel Lennon, Panjandrum Books, Los Angeles, CA. 130 pp, $15.95 cloth, $6.95 paper. In the first English-language biography of one of the earliest Absurdists, Lennon examines Jarry’s brief life as it is reflected in his nihilistic plays and pieces of fiction, as well as the dramatist’s influence on the later movements of Dadaism and surrealism. The book includes black-and white illustrations by comic strip artist Bill Griffith, best known for his “Zippy the Pinhead.”

Disjecta: Miscellaneous Writings and a Dramatic Fragment by Samuel Beckett, Grove Press, New York, NY. 178 pp, $5.95 paper. Edited by Ruby Cohn, this collection in cludes numerous early criticisms on, among others, Pound, Proust, Joyce and Sean O’Casey, as well as selected personal letters by Beckett about his own work, a number of brief reviews and essays on painting, and a fragment from an early historical play, Human Wishes.

A Sense of Direction: Some Observations on the Art of Directing by William Ball, Drama Book Publishers, New York, NY. 177 pp, $17.95 cloth. Written by the founder and general director of San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theatre, this book is a wide-ranging analysis of the directorial process, from choosing the play to working with actors to practical rehearsal techniques. Throughout the text Ball offers candid digressions into his own experiences and theories, resulting in a detailed personal view of the psychology and practice of the art by one of America’s leading directors and teachers.

Stopped Rocking and Other Screenplays by Tennessee Williams, New Directions, New York, NY. 384 pp, $9.95 paper. Introduced with an essay by Richard Gilman, this collection includes four unproduced screenplays written over the last 30 years which reflect both the realistic style of Williams’s early work and the more experimental devices of his later plays. Stopped Rocking includes the 1977 screenplay of the same name; Williams’ adaptation of his short story, One Arm; and two screenplays from the ’50s, All Gaul is Divided (an expanded version of 1978’s A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur) and The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond.

The Weight of the World by Peter Handke, Ralph Manheim, trans, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, NY. 243 pp, $16.95 cloth. A combination professional notebook and personal diary, The Weight of the World covers the details of Handke’s life in Paris from November 1975 to March 1877, while he lived with his daughter. The passages range from references to Kleist, Truffaut, Robert De Niro and Goethe down to the most mundane impressions and details of daily life, all aimed at preserving and exploring sources of aesthetic inspiration.

Democracy’s Body: Judson Dance Theater, 1962-1964 by Sally Banes, UMI Research Ann Ar-bor, MI, 1983. 288 pp, $39.95 cloth. Banes points to July 6, 1962, the night of the first performance of the Judson Dance Theater, as the birth of Postmodern dance in this country, and offers an in-depth documentation of the group’s two-year existence. The careers of John Cage, Lucinda Childs, Robert Dunn and others are explored in great detail as the author analyzes the seedbed of “the first avant-garde movement in dance theatre since the modern dance of the 1930s and 1940s.”

Movement and Meaning: Creativity and Interpretation in Ballet and Mime by Anya Peterson Royce, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, IN. 224 pp, $27.50 cloth. Combining historical research, interviews with dancers and mimes, and her own background in anthropology, Royce examines the creation and interpretation of ballet and mime within the context of their own audiences. The author emphasizes both the structure of the art forms and the culture and society in which they are created by focusing on the commedia roles of Harlequin and Pierrot and the choreographies of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet.

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