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stead of the denotative mode . . . with the result that accidental meaning subverts any didactic intention." In her final chapter, "The Brechtian Postmodern," Wright claims that Brecht's significance for and in the postmodern theatre cannot be seen in the reverent productions of his interpreters, but appears in the works of other artists. She must discuss, in the words of Andrzej Wirth, a "Brecht reception without Brecht." Thus Wright turns to Pina Bausch and Heiner M~ller. Wright traces Brecht's V-effect (Wright's preferred rendering) in Bausch, but postmodernized, containing "no guide to interpretation" through the programmed text or the self-conscious, political actor. Mfller is presented as a postmodern deconstructor of Brecht, literally, as in the case of Mauser,deconstructingThe Measures Taken; and more globally, as in a Hamletmachine that follows Brecht in resisting theatrical conventions. This resistance, she points out, would also include Brecht's own conventions of resistance-for instance, the unproblematical insertion of the subject into history. Though it has patches of awkward writing, I like Wright's tough, clear, politically-conscious book. (Example of the former: "the aim of this section is to use MUller as a pivot for the issues of what a postmodern political art might look like or does look like, rather than contribute to an assessment of his work as such.") What I would have liked Wright to help me see, however, is whether and how Brecht's standard oeuvre, the later plays, might be re-imagined in a postmodern context. Wright excuses herself from this task on the double ground that that work is resolutely modernist, and that Brecht production is mired inconservatism. But theorists don't have to wait for directors to show the way. Is no new act of imagination possible? To begin with, Wright should look at Elin Diamond's brilliant "Brechtian Theory/Feminist Theory: Toward a Gestic Feminist Criticism," (TDR, Spring, 1988), published too recently to have influenced Wright's thinking. ElinorFuchs Russian andSoviet Theater 1905-1932 Konstantin Rudnitsky Harry N. Abrams; 320 pp.; $75.00 (cloth) There is a curious difference between the British and American editions of this book, which are otherwise, except for their jackets, identical. While the American edition follows the title with dates, the British opts for a subtitle : "Tradition and the Avant Garde." Perhaps Abrams thought the British subtitle offputting, but it accurately describes the book's double vision , its concern with both the continuation of the older theatre and the in160 novations introduced by a new political order. As every textbook will tell you, the first decade and a half following the October Revolution was a period of unprecedented brilliance and experimentation throughout every aspect of the Russian theatre. Englishspeaking readers have had to take this on trust, since most of the works available to them dealt exclusively with Meyerhold or were studies of constructivist designers. The late Konstantin Rudnitsky, a respected Soviet theatre historian and critic, is against the cult of personality: he discusses outstanding figures in relation to each other and to general trends. His book is the first such study translated into English to provide a synoptic, panoramic view of the theatrical scene in the 1920s and '30s, and he is not content to limit himself to post-revolutionary developments. In colorful detail the book describes crucial productions like Stanislavsky 's The PassionateHeart and Mikhail Chekhov's The Case, which have received little press outside the Soviet Union. It introduces the English-speaking reader to important but unfamiliar movers such as the Ukrainian Les Kurbas, the Georgian Kote Mardzhanashvili, and the Russian Evsei Liubimov-Lansky and Igor Terentiev. It provides the only circumstantial account in English of the Kamerny Theatre's development, production by production. Propaganda troupes like Blue Blouses and TRAM, "circusization," cinema, and opera are all touched on. The book therefore surpasses and supplants Nikolay Gorchakov's one-sided history and Marc Slonim's wholly inadequate survey. There are a great many beautifully reproduced illustrations, but this is far more than a picture book. Rudnitsky's text is knowledgeable, comprehensive, and entertaining, speckled with pungent quotations from contemporary critics and memorable descriptions of actors and sets. The book does, unfortunately, have two inadequacies...


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pp. 160-162
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