Monday, November 26, 2007

Since the War - American Theatre?

George Hunka's latest post for the Guardian laments the loss of book-length criticism of American Drama.

He compares the yawning void of our criticism to the recent publication of Michael Billington's State of the Nation. (Number 970 on Amazon in the UK.)

Forgive me if I indulge in a bit of woozy nostalgia, but it's hard to
resist. With the publication in England this month of Michael Billington's State of the Nation, his history of straight drama in the postwar UK, I have to confess a little cross-Atlantic envy. (And I just checked this morning on its sales rank at - number 970! Not bad for a book on drama and theatre in the electronic-media-soaked television age.) Meanwhile, in Australia, critic
Hilary Glow has just published a book about that country's recent drama (and "the public agenda," as the subtitle of the book has it), Power Plays.

We could use a book like Billington's about postwar American drama; a lot has happened here since 1945 too. But who would write it? Billington is the chief theatre critic for the daily print Guardian; if you're waiting for a similar volume from one of the current New York Times critics for theatre, for example, you may have a long wait.

Who would write that volume here in the U.S?

I have a perfect candidate. Arthur Holmberg taught a fascinating class I took at Harvard Extension called, appropriately, American Drama Since 1945.

Mr. Holmberg, aside from being a nice fellow, and one one of the best lecturers I have ever had, is author of several volumes, including The Theatre of Robert Wilson. (Which I believe he was writing when I took the course.)

Don't know where he is currently, but I believe he still works with the American Repertory Theatre and teaches as Brandeis.

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