THE PRESENCE OF THE ACTOR by Joseph Chaikin

THE PRESENCE OF THE ACTOR

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Although Chaikin, of the radical Open Theater, is spiritual kin to the Living Theater's Becks he has written a vastly different sort of book from Judith Malina's recent journal (The Enormous Despair, p. 379). Whereas hers was responsive to the moment (and consequently a vital record of a period and a group), his exists at a tranquil remove from the strife of theater, politics and his own career. These are the focuses nonetheless of reflections distilled from what has evidently been a long and uncompromising inquiry into the business of acting, the relationship of theater to the rest of our affairs, and ultimately the conditions of living in post-industrial mass society. While he makes his points, plants his suggestions, with the simple, functional clarity (and sometimes the gnomic compression) of a great teacher, he does not seem to be wing for that role. If someone else has said it well, he quotes without elaboration, and he does not assert his own presence in discussions of other actors and theorists. What seems to matter is the idea, which has multiple origins and statements (Brecht, Laing, Goodman, etc.) but accrues something positive here. This may well become a cult book, and not undeservingly.

Pub Date: May 15th, 1972
ISBN: 1559360305
Publisher: Atheneum