Contents

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Chapter One: Introduction

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pp. 1-22

The idea for this book dates back to the summer of 2000. Sitting on a concrete bench at a world’s fair in Hanover, Germany, eating Asian-fusion fast food with some remarkably sociable Germans I had just met during one of the ten intermissions for Peter Stein’s twenty-one-hour...

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Chapter Two: Nicholas Nickleby

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pp. 23-44

It is often said that the early novels of Charles Dickens are fairy tales: childish fantasies where good and evil are instantly recognizable and unambiguous; bland, unmemorable cutout figure embodying pure innocence endure heartrending trials devised by only slightly more realistic villains; and happy endings are brought about by improbable good luck and...

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Chapter Three: The Mahabharata

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pp. 45-70

Exoticism is one of the subjects that my generation of graduate students was taught to be leery of. The category of the exotic, we were informed, was a na

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Chapter Four: Angels in America

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pp. 71-96

Americans, Tony Kushner once said, are “allergic to politics in the theater.”1 Many intrepid souls have cultivated political theater in the United States, but historically the genre has been more often thought of as an irritating weed than a crop that might nourish the public as part of a regular diet. Overtly political American dramatists have usually paid for their passion...

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Chapter Five: Einstein on the Beach

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pp. 97-123

It has long been fashionable to refer to the Broadway theater as the fabulous invalid—perpetually sick with a crippling illness that never kills it. Anyone with theatergoing experience not confined to the commercial, however, knows that the truly fabulous invalid for most of the past hundred years has been the avant-garde theater. Decade after decade from the 1890s...

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Chapter Six: Quizoola! and Speak Bitterness

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pp. 124-157

The avant-garde, if it can still be said to exist, has become a very large and diverse theatrical category. The term is slung about like a smiley-face emoticon in the information age (☺), a generic token of mild excitement that serves equally well to flatter narrative and nonnarrative performance, extravagant multimedia work and bare-stage purism, respectful adaptation...

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Chapter Seven: Faust I II

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pp. 158-188

With the exception of Angels in America, all of the marathon works this book has discussed up to now have been projects either initiated by directors or created by ensemble companies guided by strong directorial hands. This fact has not seemed worth remarking on because, in our time, we take the leadership of directors for granted. Directors run most of our...

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Chapter Eight: Conclusion

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pp. 189-192

Like most sane people, I live in a world of diminished horizons, and have lived there since the end of childhood. I learned then (and appropriately mourned) that Eden, Narnia, and Valhalla were not real, and that impulsive, feel-good historical doctrines like Manifest Destiny and Pax Britannica needed scrutiny. This awareness is for the most part salutary. Yet it...

Notes

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pp. 193-212

Bibliography

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pp. 213-222

Index

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pp. 223-229