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404 BOOK REVIEWS tions" in the "transitions" Alfred Saxe developed for Newsboy (1933). Numerous documents from 1930's theater magazines provide theoretical comment (Gorelik on Brecht, Arent on the Living Newspaper) and performance documentation (the Workers Laboratory Theatre in Chicago, a Living Newspaper strike play in West Virginia). However, by covering all the radical theater groups of the Depression the book loses focus and movement. And some of the principal ideological issues for that theater - for example, whether to present solutions or simply the problem - are virtually ignored. In her treatment of post-World War II theater Taylor is more selective, concentrating on the Living, Open, and Bread and Puppet Theatres and intentionally omitting black theater, "best left to black critics and audiences." The Open Theatre is clearly her model, for it "makes the personal and still unrealized desires of its actors visible, setting them next to the realistic behavior patterns and objective situations that normally force their suppression" (p. 240). Yet this is the least overtly political of any group she describes, and her hope that internal needs objectified on stage "will finally be reflected in the structure of ... society" (p. 235) seems naive. Although she gives a chapter to El Teatro Campesino, Taylor never confronts Luis Valdez' principle, quoted by Weisman: "If you want to do unbourgeois theater, ... you got to find unbourgeois people to do it" (p. 16). The data from Weisman's tour and his own evaluations suggest that the ethnic minority theaters are much more effective politically and dramatically than those groups comprised of white, middle-class dropouts, however skilled. As neighborhood theaters, EI Teatro Campesino, The Bodacious Buggerilla of Los Angeles, and New York's Soul and Latin Theater have unified audiences, genuine, day-to-day issues, and clear-cut goals more often expressed in terms of changing consciousness than of inciting into action. An exception to these generalizations might be the (white) San Francisco Mime Troupe, "a beautiful consciousness-raising weapon," whose example crucially influenced Luis Valdez and Leonard Smith, executive director of Detroit's black Concept East Theater. Weisman's briefer, paper-bound volume more consistently allows guerilla theater and its people to speak for themselves. (Its eleven playscripts and improvisations even show the adaptation by blacks of a Chicano theater "classic," Los Vendidos, into the less amusing White Sale.) Taylor, both in her own comments and the documents she includes, is more concerned with analysis and appraisal of techniques. Like much of the theater they discuss, both authors assume an audience sympathetic to their political stance. Nevertheless, any reader will find in both books competent description and thoughtful evaluation of a lively form of American Theater. EDWARD M. BERCKMAN Oklahoma State University THREE WORKS BY THE OPEN THEATER, ed. Karen Malpede. Drama Book Specialists . 191 pp. $12.50. Brecht was the first major figure to suggest that the theater audience should be reminded where it was: in a playhouse; and what it was seeing: a play, and not real life. But in suggesting that the actual actors, playing space, and time be ac- BOOK REVIEWS 405 knowledged somehow, he was heralding an important recognition: that the dynamic underlying the very essence of theater involves the simultaneous existence of two modes of reality. Theater until recently labored under the prescription, long since abandoned in other arts, that the medium should disappear, should function like a two-way mirror that revealed what was behind it without itself being seen. While painters, for example, had decades before acknowledged that their pears and apples actually were canvas surfaces with paint applied to them, theater people still thought that the secret of good theater lay in tricking the audience into looking through the actor, the physical setting and the actual time without perceiving them, to enter the world of the play. The excitement of theater, however, has to do with the fact that the living reality on stage does not disappear when it conjures the world of the play. The very dynamic of theater centers on the simultaneous presence in a single space of a playing area and a theatrical environment, in a single time frame of linear, progressing time and the abstract time of the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5286
Print ISSN
0026-7694
Pages
pp. 404-407
Launched on MUSE
2013-07-03
Open Access
No
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