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298Comparative Drama and rewarding. The interpretation is generally sensible and persuasive, written in English that is free of jargon and is lucid in its pursuit of argument. Watson is unafraid to use the word "essentialist" about his work and to distance himself from some current methodologies. He knows the work of Foucault, but is more inclined to turn to Ernest Becker for his model. I am glad to see Becker back in the news, and to read in Watson's book an application that resonates so compellingly. DAVID BEVINGTON University of Chicago Guillermo Schmidhuber. El teatro mexicano en cierne (1922-1938). University of Cincinnati Series in Latin American and U.S. Latino Theatre. New York: Peter Lang. 1992. Pp. ix + 223. $50.95. In this volume of the University of Cincinnati Series in Latin American and U.S. Latino Theatre, the Mexican dramatist and scholar Guillermo Schmidhuber examines the formative years of Mexican theater. He proposes establishing 1922 as the beginning of this period because at that time the first theater group in Mexico, Comedia Mexicana, began to produce and stage plays consistently. The group's significance derives not only from the number of performances but also from the variety of Mexican plays that it staged. To mark the end of these formative years, Rodolfo Usigli's El gesticulador, written in 1938, is chosen, for with this play, he argues. Mexican theater finds its own enduring aesthetic and essence. The first chapter, which serves as an introduction to the book, establishes the main focus of the study: the evolution of Mexican theater in genre, structure, and theme. Also presented is an overview of previous critical studies on Mexican theater, offering a background of the literary and theatrical influences that contributed to its creation. In addition , Schmidhuber compares the development of theater in Mexico to the evolution of theater in other Latin American countries between 1922 and 1938. Chapters II and III. focusing on the Comedia Mexicana, study the significance of several groups in the development of a national theater. It is demonstrated how this group began by following the model of Spanish theater, though none of the dramas staged by Comedia Mexicana surpassed the quality of the Spanish theater at that time. Even though this group maintained the structure of the traditional "well-made play." it introduced new themes and stylistic changes that furthered the development of a national theater. Examining other theater groups such as El Teatro Mexicano del Murciélago and El Teatro de Ahora, Schmidhuber finds that the main contribution of the former was the incorporation of national elements such as popular and pre-Hispanic music. Reviews299 dance, and rituals into their performances, taking a distinct course from the traditional Spanish one-act comic play. El Teatro de Ahora, while it played only one season, the playwrights affiliated with it in Schmidhuber 's view made important contributions to Mexican drama. For example, Juan Bustillo Oro's plays brought new issues to the Mexican stage: Los que vuelven, the first play with a Chicano theme; Masas. S.A.. the first drama to present the dictator as protagonist (never staged); abortion, among other issues, is addressed in Justicia. S.A. Mauricio Magdaleno, the other founding member of this group, is perceived as a pioneer of historical drama with his play Emiliano Zapata. A re-evaluation of the different avant-garde theater groups in Mexico in Chapter IV involves a treatment of groups such as Teatro de Ulises. Teatro de Orientación, and the Ciclo Post-Románlico. which evolved new ways of writing theater as well as performing and staging techniques that were new to Mexico. Schmidhuber also identifies two different stages in this evolution: (Da structure similar to the melodrama , but adding a certain irony, and (2) moral theater. He explains that the best plays of this period developed a style, dramatic form, and theme which integrated national trends. He considers Invitación a Ia muerte, written by Xavier Villaurrutia in 1940. to be the best play of the avant-garde theater in Mexico; hints of national theater can be observed , but it still retains some stylistic and structural influences of the French theater. Chapter V, in my...