Drama critic of the New York Times, Howard Taubman here reviews the history of theatre in America, from 1665, when three men in a Virginia court defended themselves against the charge of acting a play and were held free of crime, to 1965 and its different difficulties. He writes up the playwrights, producers, and players of the times, assesses plays (from Tyler's Contract to Albee's Virginia Woolf) for dross and gold in the light of the contemporary and the current day, points our trends and discusses movements. Historical footnotes: on May 10, 1849, the Astor Place riot eventuated in a casualty list of 22 dead, 36 injured; the night Show Boat opened, in a histrionic heydey when 200 openings a season were on the boards, most critics were at Barry's Paris Bound. As he moves into the 1920's the tone becomes more personal, and casual until in the 1960's he is simply running off the names on the marquee. Libraries will respond to the genuine synoptic value of the history, and for the acceptant theatre buff there is the pleasure of recognition and remembrance. But those who seek an idea of theatre and a glimmer of intellectual inspiration will have to search elsewhere for it. In the middle distance between the treatments of Blum and Fergusson.