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382 Comparative Drama developments in the field of drama and theater in Poland during the postwar period, which culminates in the emergence of the Polish brand of the "Theater of the Absurd"-parallel to but not identical with the French models of that dramatic genre. This is the central theme of the study, and it is only natural that it occupies most of the space, overshadowing -perhaps a little too much-other phenomena, i.e., developments which, whether traditional or Marxist, were not without their importance, even for some of the practitioners of the Theater of the Absurd. For example, Jerzy Szaniawski and Leon Kruczkowski, although both characterized as· important dramatists, are accorded very brief sketches (less than two pages each). A closer analysis of Szaniawski's skillful blend of the old and the new, of reality and dreams, in such plays as particularly Two Theatres (Dwa teatry) and Kruczkowski's ideologically charged dramatic "treatises" would have been a good illustration of the intricate course of development in the field of drama in Poland of that period. But I realize that these remarks might be rather addressed to a work that would aspire to the role of a definitive history of Polish drama. Czerwinski's survey is more like a documentary film, consisting of a series of close-ups of the most intense moments· in the really dramatic life of Polish theater at the time of turbulent political events. As pointed out, the author concentrates on the Polish Theater of the Absurd and its specific quality of what-as he says-can be best defined by applying the philosopher Leszek Kolakowki's "Jester-Priest" metaphor , which stands for "negative vigilance in the face of any absolute:' In several chapters, entitled metaphorically, the author characterizes the most important playwrights: "Rozewicz: the Reluctant Jester," "Mrozek: the Seeker of Absolutes,""Broszkiewicz and Karpowicz: Priests in Mufti," etc. While these titles may seem exaggerated as to their ideological significance, they do reflect some of the attitudes of the authors in question and mark certain distinctions between them. A Valuable feature of the book is that it pays almost as much attention to the dramaturgy as to the drama. It shows how a number of directors, such as Grotowski, Kantor, Axer, Szajna, and others, managed to develop and managed to carry their innovative concepts-epitomized perhaps best in Grotowski's world-famous "Theatre of 13 Rows"-far beyond the rather short period of relaxation of political controls, 195668 . An observation can be made that looking at these experiments from the inside, as it were, he does not seem at times to notice certain potential pitfalls inherent to such slogans--as for example Kantor's formula of "anything goes" in his celebrated "Cricot 2 Theatre," After this general account, one specific methodological memento: I am afraid many a reader acquainted with literature on modern theater may be taken aback by a surprising statement on p. 95, referring to Martin Esslin, following a discussion of some diIferences between the various Polish playwrights: "Nowhere in his study does Esslin mention Poland or any of the other countries making up the Soviet Block. . .." I am sure that the author knows very well that Esslin had quite a few things·to say about the Polish Theater of the Absurd. The problem is that they were included in the expanded second version of Essin's study, Reviews 383 I can only suggest that in the process of composing a book of earlier essays, written at diIferent times, the author utilized his text written before the appearance of Esslin's expanded volume, without scrutinizing the details for correctness. Unfortunately, the bibliography too does not contain this important item. ZBIGNIEW FOLEJEWSKI University of Victoria Ron Jenkins. Acrobats of the Soul: Comedy and Virtuosity in Contemporary American Theatre. New York: Theatre Communications Group, 1988, Pp. xx + 179 + illus. $15.95. In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in the performance techniques of circus, commedia dell'arte, vaudeville, music hall, puppetry. and a wide variety of street entertainments and folk traditions. As the American translator of the works of Italian satirist Dario Fo, Ron Jenkins is well prepared to offer a study of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 383-384
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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