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Val6ry wrote in 1936: "Every epoch that has understood the human body ... has cultivated and revered the dance." With the emergence of such a distinguished anthology, our own epoch is taking the crucial steps beyond-to thinking, writing, and reading about it. Joyce Caruso Women in Theatre: Compassion and Hope. Karen Malpede. Drama Book Publishers, 304 pp., $19.95(cloth). Karen Malpede's new anthology is a useful and important collection of primary material by women of the theatre, much of which has been out of print for a long time. It includes diverse pieces, such as reminiscences by actresses Eva LaGallienne and Ellen Terry; critical and theoretical essays by Rosamond Gilder, Susan Glaspell, Lorraine Hansberry; diary excerpts by Martha Graham and Katherine Dunham, and accounts of recent work in feminist theatre by the Women's Experimental Theatre and others. While some excerpts, such as Emma Goldman's progressive reading of Strindberg , are disappointingly short, many of the writings are truly inspiring, sometimes visionary. Throughout the book, references by one writer to a previous one, for example Judith Malina's diary entries on Hallie Flanagan, demonstrate the encouragement and inspiration that have created an implicit network among women artists throughout the history of the theatre. Omissions, especially of contemporary artists such as Maria Irene Fornes and Megan Terry, give the book an unfortunate incompleteness. Malpede's short introductions to each piece place them in an informed backdrop. Her introduction to the book, however, is problematic. This lyrical and polemical essay celebrates the spirit and fortitude of women theatre artists and places them in a tradition that counters the male-dominated theatre world and creates, in its place, a new approach to theatre. Malpede offers a revision of mythology and the origins of theatre, in which women's active role is central. She does not provide full arguments for major claims, and thus, though her points may be true, her writing seems more evangelical than convincing. In thirteen pages, she takes on all of western culture and religion; her conclusions are not likely to convince anyone who does not already share an attitude and understanding of the pervasiveness of patriarchal structures. She states, for example, that "to alter the ethical and emotional basis of patriarchy, we have to replace the idea of the fall of man with a new dramatic action." She doesn't expand sufficiently on this idea. Since we still lack a body of feminist dramatic theory, it is unfortunate that Malpede assumes long-awaited accord with her ideas, instead of presenting a more fully explicated and careful argument. Alisa Solomon 116 ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1537-9477
Print ISSN
1520-281X
Pages
p. 116
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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