THE POLITICAL STAGE: American Drama and Theater of the Great Depression by Malcolm Goldstein

THE POLITICAL STAGE: American Drama and Theater of the Great Depression

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A spirited and judicious survey of the politically colored theater that sprang up in the 1930's when Marx temporarily upstaged Freud in the shock of the economic bust, which came like a cold shower to the psychosexual drama of the preceding decade. The effect was sobering, but also bracing -- even exhilarating as new ""proletarian"" groups explored the possibilities of agitprop and even the staid Theater Guild had to allow that propaganda had artistic (and, they surmised, commercial) potential. Goldstein scans from left to right, party-dominated companies to Broadway, in two sweeps, before 1935 and after, concentrating on the Theater Union, the Group Theater, and the Theater Guild as well as the two above-mentioned extremes and the Federal Theater, with sidewise glances at dance and film. He does not stoop to argue the legitimacy of political theater, nor is he in the least confused by the overlapping claims of politics and art; rather he concentrates on a climate of influence and its directional flows, and on forthright specific criticisms, and all relevant matters, contextual, intramural and aesthetic, are deftly sorted into place. This would be a valuable work if only for the order and perspective it brings to an overcharged muddle; but the contribution is more than clerical, and the balance and humor throughout make it special indeed. Disarming, rectifying, intelligent.

Pub Date: March 28th, 1974
Publisher: Oxford