- Dictionary of Literary Biography: Twentieth-Century American Dramatists ed. by John MacNichols, and: National Theatres In the Larger German and Austrian Cities by Wallace Dace, and: London Theatre Today by Mildred and Al Fischer, and: Women In American Theatre ed. by Helen Krich Chinoy and Linda Walsh Jenkins, and: Bertolt Brecht In America by James K. Lyon (review)
- Performing Arts Journal
- The MIT Press
- Volume 5, Number 3, 1981 (PAJ 15)
- pp. 104-107
- View Citation
- Additional Information
books and com Dictionary of Literary Biography: Twentieth-Century American Dramatists. Edited by John MacNichols. Gale Research Co., two volumes, $116 (cloth). This two volume set includes a series of essays on a puzzling assortment of American playwrights, from writers such as David Belasco and William Vaughan Moody, up through Michael Cristofer and John Steinbeck. Between David Starkweather and John Steinbeck is the conspicuous absence of Gertrude Stein. Some writers treated are so insignificant it is astonishing that they are appearing in a library reference work; of course, there are omissions one can quibble about, too. The essays, all written by university professors, are plot heavy, and emphasize the historical and biographical backgrounds of the playwrights; there are no new insights on dramatic form here, only the collation of received ideas. On the plus side are the listings of productions and the whereabouts of collected papers and manuscripts, reproductions of notebook entries and production photographs, and, when the essayists did their homework, bibliographical entries. The scimpiness of major critical writing on American playwrights, particularly after Albee, attested to in these entries, points to the need for resource books such as these, however introductory they may be. Bonnie Marranca National Theatres In the Larger German and Austrian Cities. Wallace Dace. Richards Rosen Press, 468 pp., $35.00 (cloth). This handsomely illustrated book-with over 300 photos, sketchs, and diagrams-can be a valuable research resource on several counts. First, Dace offers historical backgrounds of the state-subsidized theatres he has chosen; some were born of civic pride (Frankfurt, Hamburg, Nuremberg) and not inherited from deposed princes and kings. Second, the contemporary rationale of operating and funding such theatres is outlined, in terms of repertory selected, nature of the community and the theatre audience, technical resources of the theatres, talents of the artistic and backstage personnel, administrative organization, and city, state, and federal subven104 tion policies. Third, with the notable omission of the Swiss-German theatre of Zurich, Dace's choices of cities and theatres covers a range of types and programs, including all the major houses in Vienna, West Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Cologne, Linz, Stuttgart, Dusseldorf, Nuremberg, and Frankfurt. The visuals show historical views of many of the theatres; modern exteriors and interiors, including backstage photos; seating-plans; architectural elevations and ground-plans, as well as many production photos of innovative , controversial productions. There is also a section of interviews with American artists who have made or who are now making careers in these theatres, since there are very few American regional theatres or operas wich can offer them annual contracts. This leads to Dace's favorite theme: America should have a system of subsidized theatres similar to that in Germany and Austria, a project he is pursuing with interested congressmen . Glenn Loney London Theatre Today. Mildred and Al Fischer. Golden West Publishers, 144pp., $4.50 (paper). This is a travelers' guide which can be slipped into a jacket pocket for ready reference when in Britain or kept hand on the bookshelf at home, as it has complete addresses of all major West End theatres, as wil as metropolitan London's "fringe" theatres. But that's not all: alternative groups, pub and club theatres; as well as suburban playhouses, are not only listed, but also described and usually depicted in good photos. British theatre and music festivals-with special attention to Stratford-Upon-Avon-and provincial theatres are also reviewed by the tireless authors, who seemed to have covered a lot of theatre-territory. They've included lists and comments on such other theatre matters as Drama Schools, Museums, Bookshops, and Tours. There are even helpful maps of theatre districts and Underground lines. The interesting, innovative Wakefield Tricycle Theatre (Kliburn) is omitted, but it was just moving into its new home in an old logde-hall when the Fischer's book was in preparation. In any case, they ask users of the handbook to let them know about errors, theatre alterations, and new ventures , to keep this reference up to date. GL Women In American Theatre. Ed. by Helen Krich Chinoy and Linda Walsh Jenkins. Crown Pubis., 370 pp., $19.95 (cloth). There are nearly fifty pieces in this volume which...