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122Comparative Drama reception ofthese plays,Wermeim argues, is at least partly due to the limitations of the critics themselves who can only understand an artist like Fugard in the position of unyielding opposition. By contrast, radier than decline, Fugard has discovered "an almost heady freedom and authorial empowerment" (226) in his new subjects. Fugard himselfhas acknowledged diat he must change in order to grow. Observing that he has probably abandoned overtlypolitical theater, he has said,"I'm certainly not likely to go down mat path again. I just can't. My direction has changed as a writer..." (257). Whether or not one agrees with AlbertWertheim's favorable assessment of Fugard's postapartheid plays, it is certain that The Dramatic Art ofAthol Fugard offers a remarkable contribution to die scholarship on South Africa's greatest playwright. Written in a style that is both immediately accessible to the introductory student and yet profoundly enlightening to die tiieater specialist, this book is a pleasure to read. It will do much to enhance Athol Fugard's reputation not only as an important political playwright and crusader against South African apartheid but as one ofdie great dramatists ofme second halfofthe twentieth century. Henry I. Schvey Washington University in St. Louis MatthewRoudané,ed. TheCambridgeCompanion toSamShepard. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Pp.xix+329. $60.00. At a session on playdevelopment at die 2003 Mid-America Theatre conference, an MFA candidate in playwriting complained about the attitudes of actors and directors who not only suggest changes to her plays but also make them. A veteran of play development batdes advised her to adopt Sam Shepard's tactic: whenever the "developers" invaded, Shepard abandoned die play and wrote a new one. He moved on. This may be good advice for freelance playwrights. It may not fit MFA candidates staring at the fourteentii draft ofa thesis play. They can live in hope, however, that someday they, too, will evade their collaborators. The Cambridge Companion to Sam Shepard does not confirm the veteran's story, but nothing in it makes the story improbable either. Throughout this collection of seventeen essays, Shepard eludes his admirers (and with one exception , they are all admirers).Why should they be any more successful than anybody else? For forty years, Shepard has eluded his audiences. Uniquely among Reviews123 American writers, notjust playwrights, he switches between writing and acting. His characters shake offcommitments and flee dieir pasts through violence. His plays swerve past critics, taking inspiration more from myths and music than from theater and literature. There is no essay here, for instance, on Shepard's reading. As readers wend their way toward die really useful bibliography ofthis collection, they may be asking themselves whether Shepard possesses a multitalented genius or suffers from a sort ofprofessional ADHD? They may be forgiven the inference that Shepard is driven by a deep, lifelong wish to be a pop star. To him, die work of stage and screen rank third- and second-best to the pleasures ofjazz improvisation and the blasting rhythms and screaming lyrics ofrock and roll. I doubt that Roudané gave instructions to this effect, but every essay conveys a feeling of anxiety about Shepard. Like the ghosts that have always fascinated him, who he is and what he's about seems always to slip away from the writers at the moment they almost catch him. The feeling even bleeds into some of the essay titles: Christopher Bigsby's "Born Injured: The Theatre of Sam Shepard," Stephen J. Bottoms's "Shepard and Off-Off-Broadway: The Unseen Hand ofTheatre Genesis,"Thomas P.Adler's"Repetition and Regression in Curse of the Starving Class," Carla J. McDonough's "Patriarchal Padiology from The Holy Ghostly to Silent Tongue" (emphasis added). The underlined words connote a view of Shepard's plays and career, and even Shepard himself, as, finally, only partly knowable because too much remains volatile, scarred, or buried. The remaining titles have the functional neutrality expected in a quasi-reference volume: Matthew Roudané, "Shepard on Shepard: An Interview," and "Sam Shepard's The Late HenryMoss"; Joseph Chaikin,"A Note on Sam Shepard"; Marc Robinson, "Joseph Chaikin and Sam Shepard in Collaboration"; Brenda Murphy, "Shepard Writes about Writing"; Leslie...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 122-125
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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