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184 Comparative Drama theatre— that is to say, most live theatre. And in the battle against cinema, the capital city has already fallen. I will pose a dire question to be answered in a future issue, say T heatre 25, should there be one. What pressure will be put upon live theatre when home TV cassettes combine the advantages of cinema with television while simultaneously shedding the weaknesses of big budget requirements, tight distribution control, and mass audience taste? Will it do to live theatre what TV and stereo have already done to printed literature? A Darwinian analogy may describe the situation. The author of T he O rigin o f Species often noted that when a mutation or new species comes upon the scene it puts the greatest pressure upon the older species most like it in habits and diet. But cousin species with different habits and diet are comparatively unbothered. Birds of a slightly different feather are no threat to each other so long as they seek slightly different worms. But when their wants are identical, the weaker of the two species faces a stark choice—change or extinction. Thus good melodrama on public television may be the final blow to good melodrama on Broadway. (They seek the same worm.) Meanwhile, other live theatre develops habits which film and TV can’t handle as easily, such as increased audi­ ence contact or more physicality. Dance theatre, for example, is boom­ ing. How much this species of theatre depends upon the live dancer’s physical presence, and how poorly a television screen transmits that power! And so we might hope for a “state of the art” annual which treats the major question directly and measures the progress that year of live theatre toward what it does best and away from what another media now handles better. With such a treatment would come much of the material so well presented in T heatre 5, the evidence that one flock of theatres is hatching daily and finding enough audience, while another, less adapta­ ble species migrates in circles, moults in mid-season, and starves. WALLACE JOHNSON C linton, N e w Y o rk Max Bluestone. F rom S to ry to Stage: The D ram atic A d a p ta tio n o f Prose F iction in th e P eriod o f Shakespeare an d h is C ontem poraries. The Hague: Mouton, 1974. Pp. 341. 52 Dutch Guilders. To use his own words, Bluestone “sails into the ocean of adaptive study to learn, if possible, a little more of what was done and how and of its possible critical significance” (p. 306). His approach is threefold. Part I sees the drama as one of percep ts (figures actual or Active, derived from the use of the senses); the Elizabethan prose fiction serving as sources are, with rare exception, works of con stru cts (a mental synthesis Reviews 185 coming from words arranged in a sequence). The theater is, in this light, a graphic, immediate, tangible imitation of life. What is intellectual or moral commentary in the prose source becomes direct, is actualized on the stage. This aesthetic change also influences the playwright’s approach to his source, the adaptation itself, and, most important, the theme that emerges. Thematically, Elizabethan plays are “about” existence in a way that prose fiction does not and cannot match. Bluestone concentrates here on gestures, costumes, properties, the figure of the actor, and stage language. In Part Two he turns to the large issues of space and time. The open nature of the Elizabethan stage, the change from simultaneous sets to a variety of places in sequence, the emphasis on the physical locality no matter how impoverished or merely suggestive the actual stage set— these factors control the very philosophy of the theater, stressing the “seeming chanciness, the changeableness, of the world” (p. 161). Con­ versely, the prose “world” is one of words, with little emphasis on things, the scene, or what is physical in our reality. Prose landscapes are sketched in a few words; when you’ve seen one place you’ve seen them all. Simi­ larly, the sense of time...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 184-187
Launched on MUSE
2018-07-11
Open Access
No
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