New PDF release: Modern American Drama, 1945-2000


By C. W. E. Bigsby

ISBN-10: 0521790891

ISBN-13: 9780521790895

ISBN-10: 0521794102

ISBN-13: 9780521794107

During this new version of the widely-acclaimed smooth American Drama Christopher Bigsby completes his survey of postwar theater and brings the reader as much as 2000. whereas keeping the most important parts of the 1st variation, together with surveys of significant figures akin to Eugene O'Neill, Tennessee Williams, David Mamet, and Sam Shepard, Bigsby additionally explores fresh works by means of proven dramatists.

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Example text

The word ‘dream’ likewise provides a kind of pivot round which the lives of his characters revolve. Such dreams represent simultaneously the possibilities which sustain them and the unattainable that mocks them. They exist in a no man’s land, terrified alike of past and future, yet unable to seize the moment to inhabit a present whose commitments would pull them into time. In the late plays his characters seek oblivion through alcohol, through memory or through narrative, repeating the story of their lives as though thereby to create those lives.

It takes place, he insists, ‘in a life not in a theatre’ while the fact that ‘it is a play which can be produced with actors is secondary and incidental to me and even, quite unimportant – and so it would be a loss to me to sacrifice anything of the complete life for the sake of stage and audience’. Urged by Macgowan to make cuts he explained why he could not do so: what I’ve tried to write is a play where at the end you feel you know the souls of the seventeen men and women who appear – and women who don’t appear – as well as if you’d read a play about each of them.

Erie Smith is described as ‘a teller of tales’, an honourable profession you might think, not least because it happens to be O’Neill’s as well. Yet Hemingway’s remark that ‘all true stories, if continued long enough, end in death’, is not without its relevance. For narrative logic carries its own death threat. The distance between a narrated past and a narrative present – the present in which the story is told – is a measure of time, the very time against which the narrative is offered as talisman.

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Modern American Drama, 1945-2000 by C. W. E. Bigsby

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