Vanishing Acts: Theater Since the Sixties

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9780300087772: Vanishing Acts: Theater Since the Sixties
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In this outstanding collection of critical writings, some published here for the first time, Gordon Rogoff tells the story of live theater in America over the past forty years. His view of modern drama and its performance is rich with the insights of both a discerning critic and an individual for whom the making of theater is a passion. As Rogoff explores the topics of acting, directing, playwriting, Shakespeare productions, opera, and theater criticism, he celebrates live theater’s victories over new realms while deploring the threat of imitative repertories, acting styles, and playwriting. Throughout the book he underscores his conviction that dramatic literature and performance may be taken as a book of instruction for the way we lead our lives.

Rogoff ranges widely in his discussions, considering the work of Peter Brook, Robert Wilson, Ariane Mnouchkine, Samuel Beckett, Tennessee Williams, Alban Berg, and Tony Kushner among others, and the performances of such actors as Laurence Olivier, Donald Wolfit, Judi Dench, Anthony Hopkins, Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, Lee J. Cobb, Vanessa Redgrave, and Geraldine Page. He registers dissenting notes about the accomplishments of Joseph Papp, Eugene O’Neill, and Arthur Miller. In his concluding essay, Rogoff contends that nostalgia our millennial nemesis” may be a way of forgetting rather than remembering.

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About the Author:

Gordon Rogoff is professor of dramaturgy and dramatic criticism at the Yale School of Drama and professor emeritus of Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is an Obie-award winning director and as one of America's most respected theater critics, he received the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism, and the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

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Theater reviews age fast. Who really cares what even a fine critic said 15 years ago about this young playwright's first work, or that revival of A Doll's House? Only the best critics write reviews that stay news, and then only occasionally. Yale professor and former Village Voice reviewer Rogoff is one of the best critics, and not even every piece in his collection of '80s and '90s reviews retains its interest. It is especially hard to care when Rogoff writes about a Wooster Group production he fled from at intermission. He is on firmer ground when he steps back, as he does in many pieces, and takes a broader view of the art of playwriting or the state of theater today. He is moving when he pens an elegiac obituary of a theatrical giant, such as Geraldine Page, Laurence Olivier, or Jerzy Grotowski. And he is always at his best when he waxes autobiographical, and his sometimes stiff, academic prose relaxes. Jack Helbig
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