RETURN ENGAGEMENT by Norris Houghton


Email this review


This book is subtitled, ""A Postscript to Moscow Rehearsals"", the book which attracted considerable attention in the late thirties; the earlier book recorded Houghton's observations of the Russian theater during two visits in 1934-5. In 1960, Mr. Houghton returned to Russia for a two months' stay; he does not consider this a sequel to but he does give a detailed view of the present Moscow theatre, and a comparison of the principal theatres then and now. The Russian theatre is almost entirely repertory theatre, a system which the author much admires and envies; hence each theatre has its own style and personality, depending largely upon the director's skills and views and the Russian theatre is very much a directors' theatre. It is a most interesting book, giving as it does a picture of one important and privileged section of the Russian Intellectual elite. (He includes a fascinating account of an afternoon spent at the luxurious home of a famous theatrical couple -- right out of the lusher parts of West county.) The author, who was one of the founders of New York's Phoenix Theatre, is impressed by the Russians professionalism -- their actors spend four years at drama school but by the soap opera level of many of the leading contemporary plays. However, he is encouraged by the cautious renaissance of intellectual freedom in the last few years.

Pub Date: April 9th, 1962
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston