LIFE SHOW: How to See Theater in Life and Life in Theater by John & Jonathan Price Lahr

LIFE SHOW: How to See Theater in Life and Life in Theater

Email this review


A book which projects or acts out Shakespeare's truth that ""All the world's a stage/and all the men and women merely players."" Critic Lahr and poet Price play with their theme from multiple vantage points: props, costume, performance, gesture, setting, character, splicing in joltingly expressive photographs to involve the reader-viewer in the immediacy of their McLuhanesque message: theater is omnipresent; artifice shapes reality; the personal choreography of gesture, clothing, body motion, creates character. Contemporary culture if we know how to look is the most authentic theater. Adolf Hitler and Abbie Hoffman both produced their dramatic selves; the truest performance is an ecstatic experience wherein the actor attains total dominance over the audience which yields to him as to a shaman who transports and liberates his people to a heightened awareness of their essential being. These two young authors derive their dramaturgy from the public spectacles of the 20th century: the Nuremberg rallies, the '68 Democratic Convention, yippies, hippies, peace parades, rock concerts, ""image projection"" in presidential campaigns, the ceremonies of inauguration, Dionysian festivals and columns of marching soldiers. They endorse exhibit and exhibition as the actualizing of moral fervor and emotional veracity; conversely, etiquette or normalcy becomes personal suppression, ""an exercise in emotional withdrawal. . . a means of filtering human energy and creating a psychic invisibility."" Everyone from Shakespeare to Nixon to the Marquis de Sade plays himself in this prismatic little book; words and pictures become a moving, refracting totality of impressions. Their subject is the tension between personality and persona, between the stage and the ""real world"" -- a brilliant trompe l'oeil which convinces that theater is still the closest we can come to a universal magic.

Pub Date: Nov. 26th, 1973
Publisher: Viking