WOMEN IN THE AMERICAN THEATRE by Helen Krich & Linda Walsh Jenkins--Eds. Chinoy

WOMEN IN THE AMERICAN THEATRE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

One of the less fortunate by-products of the women's movement is the proliferation of anthologies like this one; though some of the material here is certainly useful, the book is an exercise in tunnel vision--essays chiefly by academics, who, though not all feminists, seem to share an off-target approach and a lack of feel for the real working theater. After an introduction by editor Chinoy, there's a heavy-going section called ""Female Rights"" (sex roles, shamans, rituals, etc.), followed by profiles of actresses and women playwrights, most of them the sort of lesser-known artists of the past who attract attention from graduate students and professors in need of paper topics. And the more important figures--Lillian Hellman, Ruth Draper--are lost in turgid prose. Then: a ludicrously short section entitled ""If Not an Actress, What?""--with brief portraits of a casting agent, some producers, an acting teacher, a critic, a designer; not a word of Agnes de Mille, one-line mentions for Jean Rosenthal and Tharon Musser. And finally: essays on the ""images"" of women characters in American plays; a disproportionately detailed look at ""feminist theatre""; and appendices listing award-winning women, plays by women, and feminist theaters. All in all, then, this is an anything-but-comprehensive compilation, with little value as a general reference. It may do fine for feminists in the theater; but those who want to know what it's really all about will continue to rely on the many non-sexist sources--and on memoirs by the likes of de Mille and Cheryl Crawford.

Pub Date: March 30th, 1981
Publisher: Crown