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184 Comparative Drama chronology can be confusing, but I suppose that like the' audiences of the productions I' am expected to create my own perspective. The Wooster GroUp is attractive in the seriousness with which it has developed post-modem theater. Its rejection of narrative (over which LeCompte broke with Schechner), method acting, character psychology, fixed perspectives, interpretation, and communication with 'the audience-large sections of Route 1 &: 9 take place in the dark-results in a radically interesting, puzzling theater. Route 1 &: 9 criticizes and deconstnicts while paying homage t Our Town; the production keeps shifting moods, material, and attitudes to prevent any interpretation becoming dominant and a new. orthodoxy. Savran caDs this free-floating irony. Everything is questioned, and the audience left to think about what it has seen and h~ard. The Wooster Group, and especially LeCompte, take ideas Qf dIStance and alienation to an extreme and reject the privileging of any interpretation,cultural levels, or material. Structure is provided by such ideas as examining Our Town in present-day America, or by juxtaposing 'the contradictions of The Crucible with Timothy Leary's leadership of the anti-establishment drug culture. Society, culture, and politics are explored, deconstructed, and criticized. The use of simultaneous actions parody, films, and video ~ong with isolation between speech and gestu~ contributes to a feeling of depth and open-endedness. The result is distinctively post-modem in its arbitrary, fragmented form and mixture of .styles. A production is a self-conscious work of art, meant to be examined like a cezanne or Cubist painting. Savran claims that in the ''history of theatre • . • much of the most radical work has been deconstructive," including the ''indecorous tragedy of Euripides," "Btichner's demonic comedy," and Brecht's non-Aristotelian , non-cathartic Epic Theater. Each playwright was revolutionary because he "worked within history, and within metaphysics, to. launch a trenchant critique of the ideology spoken through history and through metaphysics. Each manipulated preexisting fQrmsto reveal their mode of operation" and exposed the devices upon which the theater had depended. Savran sees the experimental theater of the 1970's and 'SO's as similarly deconstructive, criticizing "theatre and culture from within." While the argument is attractive (if at times a bit obscurely expressed), suoh a broad, all-encompassing use of "deconstruction" and "deconstructive " is highly metaphoric. These terms are no more precise than such words as ''wise,'' "mature," "organic," and "seamless" to show approval and to reBect an ideological bias. The many interesting contradictions in statements and practice by the Wooster Group-pure theater, political commitment, deconstruction, self-referentiality, the often highly personal basis· of their material, the way each production builds upon previous work, unwillingness to communicate with the.audience, the instinct for outrage, and the commercial success of some of the performers-require further thought. Can a revolut~onary theater depend upon state support and perform before a small, highly educated, white cultural eli1e? Isn't this another example of the ongoing crisis of liberal bourgeois culture which contributes to its renewal? Many of the techniques used by 'experimental groups are those. of earlier avantgardes and seem to have'been redisReviews 185 covered during the collapse of high culture in the 1960's. And then there are the creative tensions within the Wooster Group, such as Gray's need to be the center of focus as he turns his Illemories into. art, while LeCompte , despite her politics, seems primarily concerned with shaping material the way a painter uses color, line, and mass. BRUCE KING Muncie, Indiana Enoch Brater. Beyond Minimalism: BecketfslAte Style in the Theater. New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987. Pp. x + 209. $22.50. Enoch Brater, whose edition of Beckett at 80 was reviewed in the Fall 1987 issue of this journal, analyzes here Beckett's latest and increasingly spare dramatic work: the playsNoi I, That Time, and Footfalls; the movie Film; the TV works Ghost Trio, .•. but the clouds . .., Nacht und Traume, and the Quad Variations; ending with works for which there is no precise nomenclature: Piece of Monologue, Ohio Impromptu, Catastrophe (Beckett's fitst dramatic writing since Fin de partie to be done originally in French), What Where, and Rockaby. . Indeed, :Srater suggests...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 185-187
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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