The Emergence of the Modern American Theater, 1914-1929

Ronald H. Wainscott, Author Yale University Press $52 (272p) ISBN 978-0-300-06776-7
Associate professor of theater and drama at Indiana University, Wainscott has written a thorough text about post-World War I American theater that will no doubt be useful to students but is unlikely to hold the interest of the casual reader. In separate essays, Wainscott discusses the war's impact on theatrical productions, Congress's brazen attempt to raise funds by taxing theatergoers (which was turned back because of a brilliant public-relations campaign by theater owners), the naughty-but-safe sex farces that flooded the boards in the '20s, the influence of expressionism on set design and production and the red scare's impact on playwrights. Each point Wainscott makes is meticulously supported by numerous allusions to long-forgotten plays, but the minds of most readers will be wandering long before the curtain drops. Curiously, any discussion of the modernity of the era's theater is relegated to a brief afterword. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/24/1997
Release date: 03/01/1997
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