RALLYING CRIES by Eric Bentley


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Individuals--who might or might not be heroes--struggle against power structures in these three recent works by a staunch believer in ""political theatre."" Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been (the only one of the three to have received any major professional productions, most successfully at the Hollywood Centre Theatre) is Bentley's abridged and edited arrangement of testimony by show-business figures-Paul Robeson, Abe Burrows, Larry Parks, Lionel Stander, Ella Kazan--before the Un-American Activities Committee between 1947 and 1956. The Recantation of Galileo Galilei (subtitled ""Scenes from History Perhaps"") is just that, along with the early 17th-century events and intellectual skirmishes leading thereto. An immense cast argues and speechifies until Galileo admits that the earth does not move around the sun. And From the Memoirs of Pontius Pilate offers Pilate reading aloud from his autobiography as the action flashes back to ""imaginary conversations"" among Judas, Herod, Stephen, Pilate, Jesus (here called ""Yesbu"" and seen by Bentley as ""a little man like you and me""), and others. In a foreword, an afterword, and prefaces, Bentley asks ""Whatever happened to dear old optimism?"" and many other questions, some provocative, some numbing.

Pub Date: May 12th, 1977
Publisher: New Republic Book Co.--dist. by Dutton