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

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By C. W. E. Bigsby

During this re-creation of the widely-acclaimed glossy American Drama Christopher Bigsby completes his survey of postwar theater and brings the reader as much as 2000. whereas keeping the main 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 contemporary works by means of confirmed dramatists.

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One of the curiosities of human physiognomy, or perhaps pathology, is that the older the individual becomes the sharper and more complete are the memories from a distant past and the less secure those from the immediate past. Such memories are, of course, the root of a profound irony, as youth and age are thereby forced together. They are also perhaps part of a recoil from the implications of a radically foreshortened future, a means of slowing down and if possible freezing process into a series of tableaux, of memories aesthetically reshaped.

O’Neill was aware of the way in which irony had darkened his vision, in which a certain reflexiveness had entered his work. The mirror into which Con Melody looks in A Touch of the Poet, seeking a reflection from another time, is the mirror into which O’Neill also stares, a ghost haunting himself. In the words of a poem, written in : Through indolence, Irony, Helplessness, too, perhaps, He let the legends go, The lying legends grow; Then watched the mirror darken. 21 There is an atavistic element in O’Neill.

His sets have a metaphoric force, sometimes too literally so. His characters expose their lives through the smallest gesture. Blanche and Stanley, personally confronting one another across a space charged with sexual energy, generate a meaning which does not lie in their words. There is a rhythm to their relationship which creates its own inevitability, its own crescendos and diminuendos. Williams has said that: everything is in flux, everything is in a process of creation. The world is incomplete, it’s like an unfinished poem.

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