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American Set Design Arnold Aronson Theater Communications Group,200 pp., illus.,$25.95 (cloth), $16.95 (paper). In this attractive book, Arnold Aronson presents the work of eleven major American set designers: John Lee Beatty, John Conklin, Karl Eigstri, Ralph Funicello, Marjorie Bradley Kellogg, Eugene Lee, Ming Cho Lee, Santo Loquasto , David Mitchell, Douglas Schmidt, and Robin Wagner. Aronson describes the designer's work, splicing his account with interviews with the artist and comments from directors and other co-workers. He also outlines the artist's working methods and training, and includes biographical information . Aronson never evaluates the work or draws any synthetic conclusions, each chapter reading as an appreciative profile. While there is ample reason to admire all the designers represented here, the reader becomes hungry for some analyses and connections. There's simply a brief celebratory note by Harold Prince and a one-page Author's Note, where Aronson points out the relative absence of blacks and women in the field (but never offers any explanation ), and bemoans the unavailability of photos and sketches. Though the book is full of production photos, sketches, and renderings, it's indeed frustrating that there are often no pictures of shows described at length as representative of the artist. And nowhere does Aronson place designers in an artistic and historical context, take up issues of the profession such as the pigeon-holing or type-casting some designers refer to, or examine the industry and its trends. Though Aronson manages to evoke a full sense of each designer's work and approach, one wishes he did more. Alisa Solomon Poor Dancer's Almanac: A Survival Manual for Choreographers, Managers and Dancers Dance Theatre Workshop Publications; 318 pp.; $15 (paper) In its twentieth year, Dance Theatre Workshop, the New York presenting and service organization, continues to energetically and creatively promote the growth of innovative new work in dance and performance. Production activity in its Bessie Schonberg Theatre of some 200 dance and seventy-five theatre, poetry and music events each season has offered a wide-ranging, eclectic mix. The revised second edition of Poor Dancer's Almanac, first published in 1976, reflects the organization's populist orientation. Modeled after The Organizer's Manual, a grassroots organizing and political self-help handbook that grew out of the 1970 National Student Strike, Poor Dancer's Almanac is a comprehensive performing arts survival manual and resource 269 guide. Geared toward choreographers, managers, dancers and other performers of various stripes, the Almanac contends with Issues of livelihood and self-maintenance, artistic and administrative career development. The material is organized around basic problems into fourteen chapters arranged chronologically, roughly in the order in which they appear on the horizon when one first arrives in New York. One through six deal with personal Issues: getting established In the city, health, living and work space, employment, government financial services, special problems of the foreign dancer. Seven through fourteen relate to professional concerns: management, structuring operations, legal issues, budgeting, publicity/promotion , production, funding, the marketplace. A final section provides an annotated directory of city, state, regional and national service organizations . The chapters combine interpretive essays, practical and philosophical; with resource listings, contributed by seasoned leaders in each area. Laying out the game rules of the '80s, the Almanac synthesizes complex information into a variety of personal/artistic survival approaches. John Fiscella EXIT 11. The Journal of PreventIve Sociology. $6.66 plus $1 postage to EXIT, 70 Greenwich Ave. Box 594, NYC, 10011 270 ...


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