Interludes and Early Modern Society: Studies in Gender, Power and Theatricality edited by Peter Happé, Wim Hüsken (Ludus: Rodopi) The essays in this collection, contributed by an internationally distinguished group of scholars, bring up to date many aspects of the criticism of the English Interludes. The development of these plays was a significant part of the history of the growth of English drama in the sixteenth century to the extent that they may be regarded as its main stream. Arising by means of a felicitous combination of the development of printing and the growth of a professional theatre, plays of this type quickly became a forum for the presentation and exploration of many contemporary themes. They became a useful means of disseminating a wide variety`of opinions and public concerns as well as exhibiting at times the intellectual brilliance of the Renaissance. The essays here are concentrated upon power, particularly in its religious and political aspects, gender and theatricality. The political and religious upheavals of the Reformation under the Tudor monarchy form a background as well as a focus at times. In particular the position of women in sixteenth-century society is examined in essays on several plays. There is also discussion of the development of theatrical techniques as playwrights worked closely with small acting companies to reach a wide audience ranging from the royal court to the common streets. This was achieved, as a number of essays make clear, through a variety of entertaining theatrical devices.
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Excerpt: Interludes were written, printed and performed throughout most of the sixteenth century. Though the name 'Interlude' for some kind of dramatic entertainment was invented earlier, we can observe and discuss the plays from the surviving examples in this century only, and it is apparent that they reflect and contribute to the culture of this time and no other. As the collection of references made by Nick Davis makes clear, definition of an interlude is a slippery task.' The catalogue recently compiled by Darryll Grantley contains more than one hundred entries.' Most of them are rather short plays by modern standards, but there are some important expansions within the genre. One of their most common characteristics is that they were intended for performance in Tudor halls as an entertainment, with the spectators configured in such a way as to participate in a meal, before, during or after the performance. As we shall see, many of them were carefully constructed for performance by a small group of actors, and often there was flexibility about where performances could be arranged.
One way of looking at their importance in sixteenth-century drama is to consider those kinds of contemporary plays which are clearly not interludes. When it comes to such a division the results are rather revealing. On the one hand there is no doubt that the English mystery plays were in a period of vigorous development in the first part of the century, in certain parts of the kingdom, notably at Chester, York,
Coventry and possibly Wakefield, as well as in other places, especially in the 1530s when the impact of the Reformation was being felt and adaptations had to be made to encompass or resist it. These plays, however, declined towards extinction during the reign of Elizabeth I, possibly as a result of official policy, but there were also changes in theatrical practice which made their disappearance more likely. The second major feature is that revealed by the work of REED (Records of Early English Drama), which has made it clear that there was another vigorous but miscellaneous tradition of amateur theatre in towns and villages sometimes centred upon religious festivals but having a largely secular intention and method. Some aspects of these are quite clear in what has recently become known as "parish drama". There were some common topics for these, especially in terms of Robin Hood and St George.' They were often concerned with fund raising and it is clear that there was a network of amateur performers. It was quite common for the players of one parish to present plays in another, travelling along well established routes and contacts.' Besides these two types of dramatic activity there is essentially very little to take into account.' The interludes also appear to be peculiarly British. Even though they have some features in common, they differ palpably from the richly dramatic, contemporary traditions apparent on the near continent in the Dutch rederijkersspelen, the French sotties and the Germanic farces. Such differences may be largely dependent upon the physical conditions available at the time, which determined how performances could take place, but they also embody interpretative strategies and a developing awareness of how interludes could be used for purposes which transcend the purely entertaining. Indeed it is apparent that political contexts have been discovered for many interludes, even for those of such an apparently trivial and insouciant entertainer as John Heywood in the 1530s. The exploration of political resonances is a process which has been going on for some years, and it is continued by several of the contributions to this volume. It may now seem that a political urgency was fundamental to the development of interludes as it was found possible and convenient to use them for polemical purposes. If the performance context of many interludes was frequently in the hall in Tudor great houses, this must have meant that the presence of powerful people was there to be exploited. This could happen both at the behest of such people through their patronage, or indeed there could be a critique directed at them. At the same time we should remember that what has survived into print and has subsequently come down to us is also in part the result of official sanction by the Tudor governments. This has been described as a centralizing top down process.' Nevertheless even under the restraint exercised by tyranny, ways are to be found of subverting the ostensible objectives of power.'
We shall also see that the interludes address other important issues which are not directly related to political aspirations and solutions, and we have here examples of work directed at these. Moreover the interludes have a theatrical history of their own and it is a result of some of the work presented here that some significant features of this are brought out. This points to aspects of the development of the theatrical culture surrounding interludes.
Thus the interludes have a central position in sixteenth-century drama and their existence is further characterised by two outstanding features. One is the range of subjects they were able to aspire to, whether religious or secular. This range includes the embodiment of traditional or classical material, as well as innovations in subject matter, such as the considerable group of plays which took a proverb as their title and central theme around which a plot was developed as in Enough is as Good as a Feast. Plays of this type were based upon a literary culture as well as upon a dramatic one, and they had many links with non-dramatic sources and analogues. The intellectual inheritance is emphasized by the close association of a number of interludes with the process of education and the practical consideration of the necessity to instruct the young in rhetorical skills. The second notable feature is their adaptability, which was so great that they continued to develop through the century and they became a dramatic form which was sympathetic to innovation. They were superseded only when there was a radical reorganisation of the dramatic activities contingent upon James Burbage's opening of the Theatre in London in 1576. This provided a new home for drama as well as the means of developing a committed acting profession and a scope for dramatic writing such as had never been seen before.' But even in this newer drama there were many places where the achievements of the interludes could be recalled and developed. Such a recall could also be comic, as in the case of Peter Quince and his company.
In assembling this collection of essays it was intended to centre interest upon three topics: Power, Gender and Theatricality. It is hoped that the contributors have done this in such a way as to shed new light upon all of them. But it has also emerged that these are not watertight compartments. It has proved impossible to group the essays under the three categories originally envisaged, chiefly because many of the contributions are concerned with more than one of them, and sometimes with all three. This does not mean that we cannot bring together here a number of different approaches to these three topics. Furthermore, it will also be found that there is a considerable measure of intertextuality between interludes, and one of the most interesting aspects to have emerged from these studies is the fact that sometimes interludes are demonstrably interdependent upon one another. As a result of the overlap in the chosen topics it has seemed desirable to arrange the essays in roughly a chronological order
The collection begins with a study by Jean-Paul Debax of the genre as a whole. He draws attention to the importance of the interlude as reflecting the interests of the governing class and to the physical setting which gave status to so many interludes. He also refers to the important aspects of printing and dissemination which built up over the sixteenth century. This process had an increasing momentum in this century, and it was no doubt influenced by the assertion of royal authority from time to time, whether direct in the form of regulation, or more oblique under patronage. He is acutely aware that the interludes present conflict and that the resolution of such tension is not a cut and dried affair.
The theatricality of the interludes is explored in a number of essays gathered here. Some of this is centred on practical details of performance but there is also the way in which the genre is able to accommodate theatrical traditions and practice developed in other ways. Examples of the latter will be found in the contributions by Mike Pincombe and Dermot Cavanagh who have explored ways in which tragedy and tragic form were used by the author of Godly Queen Hester and by John Bale in King Johan respectively. These two plays were written at the time of Henry VIII's growing authoritarianism and it is apparent that in different ways the instability generated in tragedy could be used to mount a critique of power: a methodology which goes back to Sophocles, Euripides and Seneca, even though the work of these tragedians was not well known in Britain in the early sixteenth century. However, Pincombe sees in Godly Queen Hester a strongly comic inspiration which he traces to non-dramatic predecessors, and he suggests that the author was deliberately avoiding the extremes of tragedy and instead was more interested in a humanist approach to philosophical consolation. Cavanagh, in concentrating upon the characterisation of King Johan, points out the limits of his power to bring about reform. He distinguishes between the two versions of the play discernible in the manuscript and shows that even in the second where Johan is replaced by Imperial Majesty the suspicion of tyranny cannot be entirely ignored. Such an interpretation suggests that Bale's response to monarchy was not as simple as had been previously thought, and that as with some of his other work he is sometimes at the mercy of conflicting ideas.
The influence of classical comedy is noticed by Peter Thomson rather later in the century in his discussion of Jack Juggler and Gammer Gurton's Needle. But the striking aspect of his analysis is that in spite of the elite context of these plays which were generated in educated circles, there is a great deal of attention to contemporary English society. This is pointed up especially by the characteristic role of the clown figures who carry much of the work of comedy here. The discussion draws attention to the practical skill of the clowns and the ways in which they were able to work an audience, using the techniques of a double act, even to the point of competition with one another, to milk laughter from the audience. These plays are relatively late in the century and they may reflect the growing professionalism of English performers.
A further example of the development and adaptation of theatrical tradition comes in David Mills's study of the Wit plays. Once again there is an academic context for the original development by John Redford in his Wit and Science, as it was written for and presumably performed by the boys at the choir school at St Paul's. This time the amateur performers, who no doubt were mostly boys, brought different skills, and in particular singing. The theatricality is clearly aimed at what they could perform and it is remarkable that by the inclusion of chivalric details and two conflicts with the monster Tediousness, Redford seems to be making it possible for the boys to enjoy participating in the play as performers or as audience.
But this play, as Mills shows, had a later life in that it was closely imitated in the Marriage of Wit and Science a few years later in a similar context, and then in the 1570s it was adapted rather more radically as The Marriage between Wit and Wisdom by Francis Merbury for the popular stage. Even though we cannot be certain that the manuscript of this version of the play was ever turned into a performance, the revised state offers many features of the dramatic methods in common with many other later interludes, including the pre-eminence of the Vice. This adaptation is contemporary with the work of William Wager whose work is explored by David Bevington in an essay closely concerned with the staging characteristics of plays which he also fits into a specific political context. He places Wager's plays in the now well developed troupe arrangements for performing interludes, and points to the ways that this highly efficient troupe organisation was managed. It is remarkable that, as Bevington shows, an author who had a vigorous life as preacher and scholar could write in such a disciplined way as to facilitate competent performance. His recognition of stage needs is exemplified in his adaptation of the Vice convention, as well as in the skilful doubling scheme.
The dramatic work of John Skelton discussed by Peter Happé also shows a writer whose dramatic output was quite limited by comparison with his many other interests, especially in his non-dramatic poetry. Skelton's few plays were written before 1520, and yet in Magnyfycence, the only survivor, there is much that is theatrically successful. The allegory produces a number of effective scenes, including Magnyfycence's performance of rage, his encounter with Despair, and the clever use of the letter from Circumspection but perhaps the most striking episode is the comic set piece between Fansy and Foly. This most likely owes something to the sotties. But it is also a remarkable anticipation of the later clown encounters discussed by Thomson, even to the inclusion of a competitive element between the two clowns, as he envisages.
The composition of the acting troupes who performed interludes has long been a matter of interest.' It has come to be accepted that there were usually four or five men and often a boy, sometimes two. But the women's parts were not necessarily played by the boys. Lynn Forest-Hill's study of gender shows that having males act the women's parts had a special effect in revealing the interplay between gender stereotyping and a process by which women were actually given a voice. She shows that female virtue is often able to give an effective response to male assumptions and to traditional male dominance. Moreover she examines the role played by women in the audience in a number of interludes showing that the dramatist had a sense of the strength and value of their contribution. Once again the presence of the audience is seen as active.
Several essays take account of the role of the Vice in the interludes, one of the most persistent theatrical features and one which often encapsulates the skill of the creators of these plays. His main advantage was that he offered a virtuoso performance undertaken by the leading actor in the company. The role is central to the tricking of the protagonist and it is identifiable by a large range of performance devices which are both verbal and visual: aliases, nonsense, proverbs, wordplay, puns, physical dexterity, horseplay with his corrupt companions, eccentric costume, laughing, weeping, chattering to the audience and to his shady associates within it (Cousin Cutpurse being a favourite). Most probably there was also room for improvisation. Though there are vices as opposed to virtues in the fifteenth-century morality plays, the named Vice, a specifically theatrical role, begins to appear in the 1530s, the first extant ones being Not Loving Nor Loved in Heywood's The Play of the Wether and Infidelity in Bale's Three Laws. He is a leading feature of what Roberta Mullini has called the 'shared culture' of the interludes, and he appears here in various functions in the essays by Jean-Paul Debax, Lynn Forest-Hill, Janette Dillon, Bob Godfrey, David Mills, Alice Hunt and David Bevington, with analogous subversive figures in the essays by Peter Happé and Peter Thomson. It is not surprising therefore that he appears in the discussion of the two other main themes of this collection, gender and power.
The essays addressing gender are remarkable because they show how female roles could be made part of a critique of power, often using female stereotypes as a kind of cover for subversive and challenging activities. Godfrey links the resistance by women to that of the Vice and he makes much of the articulate role of Loved Not Loving, the only woman among the four characters in Heywood's A Play of Love. He also discusses the changes from the Spanish source made by the unknown author of Calisto and Melebea. Here again the woman is given a voice and control over her own destiny. Her expression is reasoned and balanced and there is an emphasis upon her intellectual status. This play was printed by John Rastell before his conversion to Protestantism and it seems likely that it shares with Heywood's a humanist concern for the need to educate women.
Dillon brings the scriptural Hester into relationship with Queen Katherine of Aragon and presents gender issues intimately connected with political ones. Indeed her essay is in part an identification of a political allegory, and one which is deeply involved in the question of power. She sees Hester as both learned and obedient and a voice in defence of Katherine. At the same time, however, the play expresses an aspiration towards the power of the queen, and one which Dillon suggests goes beyond the lesser authority of a consort.
The essay by Forest-Hill has some consideration of the importance of cross-dressing in the presentation of women's characters, together with concern for women in the audience and these are undoubtedly significant strands much developed in the interludes. The presence of women, picked out for example by Nichol Newfangle, the Vice in Like Will to Like, may well have been particularly unsettling for male control and it is interesting that here once again there is a confluence of the subversiveness of the Vice and of women. One might note that as interludes were commonly performed in the setting of the Tudor hall and in mixed company, the presence of women could hardly be overlooked. For the Inns of Court and for university colleges the audiences may well have been all male, but it would have been quite otherwise in the circumstances of the aristocratic dining hall with its mixture of sex and class. The latter setting anticipates the Jonsonian masques where once again we find a potent context for the voice and participation of women, albeit they were more exclusively aristocratic. Nevertheless Forest-Hill makes it clear that in an interlude such as Apius and Virginia there is discernible a rich theatrical tradition and an interest in entertainment which gains added point by the exposure of corrupt and hypocritical male values.
The interest in a specific political context noted by Dillon is matched in the essays by Paul Whitfield White, Greg Walker, John McGavin, Alice Hunt and David Bevington, who all address such public matters, and they reveal in different ways the remarkable sophistication of the genre to engage in the nuances of the exercise of power. It is apparent that the audiences for the plays concerned were likely to have been politically influential, and it is a remarkable feature of the genre that it could be considered as potentially having such influence. Moreover the threat generated by authority had to be managed if the writers of interludes were to establish a voice which could be effective and not merely one which invited or stimulated repression and obliteration. We have noted that the theatricality of interludes is well developed, but we need also to be aware that publication went alongside the stage potential. Though the title pages often referred to the possibility of performances and gave doubling schemes presumably in an attempt to encourage performance, it is hard to believe that publication was not a political act: it certainly seems to have been the case with John Rastell's publication of Skelton's Magnyfycence and of his son William's printing of some of John Heywood's plays.
In his account of the production of Thomas Kirchmeyer's Latin Protestant polemic, Pammachius, at Christ's College, Cambridge, in 1545, White recreates the local contexts, theatrical and religious, at the university. He shows that Cambridge was distinctly Protestant in sympathy in spite of the fact that Stephen Gardiner, the influential and traditionally minded Bishop of Winchester, was the Chancellor. His correspondence with Matthew Parker, the Vice-Chancellor, gives valuable information about the controversy surrounding the production.' Gardiner sought to use the affair as a means of bringing pressure on the university to bring it into line with the requirements of the late Henri-can orthodoxy. But it seems that the influence of the play on Protestant authors like Bale (who himself translated this play independently of the Cambridge production), Foxe and even Marlowe survived his attempt, and Cambridge itself hardly came into acquiescence at this point. We should also note that White's essay describes aspects of the staging which would have been available for this production in the context of the college mounted drama.
The essays by Walker and McGavin address the complex relationship between Sir David Lindsay's Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis and the Scottish monarchy. The text of this play exists in three states and the play was eventually much larger than most interludes. However its first performance in 1540, which survives in the form of a report in a letter, was apparently on a scale comparable with interludes in England and it was performed in the great hall at Linlithgow palace before the king. Part of the satire is directed against clerical abuses, as Walker notes, but he brings out the persistent concern with the status of the monarchy and its obligations. This is complementary to a similar concern by McGavin who also explores the presentation of the monarchy. As the texts of this play range from 1540 to 1555 we have here a remarkable opportunity to examine the development of theatrical form as well as being able to see how Lindsay's ideas evolved during a critical period of Scottish history when the monarchy came under great pressure. Working on the fact that the later version of the play was much expanded and that its dramatic style was modified, Walker notes how the target audience changed and this is accompanied by a more specific attention to individuals and the complex need for reform in religious and social terms. After its beginning within the royal hall, the play was adapted and expanded for large-scale open air public performance at Cupar, where it had a distinctly local resonance for the citizens of the town, some of whom are named, and again at the Greenside in Edinburgh, where it once again had royal patronage. One of the interesting features of Walker's analysis is that he suggests that in 1540 the first performance was promoted by the king in order to influence other powerful figures in the kingdom present at the performance even though it showed some shortcomings in royal behaviour. This point is further expanded by showing that Lindsay adapted his play, innovating in structural terms to widen the audience. The analysis presented here gives a remarkable insight into the process by which an interlude could be developed. We should bear in mind, too, that Lindsay was writing for a very different political context from that in England, though it is possi ble that he came into direct contact with the English interludes during his two recorded visits to the English court in 1535 and 1543.
McGavin's approach draws particular attention to aspects of the dramatic technique of this remarkable play, and he ties this in closely with the political and religious contexts of its evolution. Drawing upon a range of symbolic material from both dramatic and non-dramatic sources, he examines in detail the close links and also the contrasts between Rex Humanitas and the figure of Divine Correction. His discussion shows how both characterisations of authority are seen as multivalent and how Lindsay is able to manipulate the critical and momentous concept of royal identity. The discussion of the metatheatrical aspects of the play brings close attention upon important aspects of the dynamic of change in a period of great political stress.
Alice Hunt's approach to Respublica is directed at the play's focus upon legitimacy of Queen Mary Tudor's monarchy. Tracing the complex process by which Mary came to the throne she draws particular attention to the problems which arose over the novelty of crowning a queen in her own right. She shows how the interlude brings to the fore the interlocking of secular authority and sacramental significance. The notion of "res publica" is used as a means of presenting good government and the contribution good counsel makes in supporting it.
The dramatic work of William Wager in the 1560s, as Bevington makes clear in his study of The Longer thou Livest and Enough is as Good as a Feast, is carefully integrated into theatrical practice in the world which gave rise to the Queen's Men at a critical time in the development of theatre; but it also has religious aspects which reflects Wager's activity as a polemical preacher in the city of London as well as his interest in education. Once again there is an educative process at work here, and it is made clear that Wager's interest in Calvinism is a strong influence, especially as a deliberate contrast to Catholic educational practice under Queen Mary. But there is also a deep concern for social abuses especially in relation to landlords and tenancy rights. Such is the concern for the contemporary economic and social difficulties that Bevington notes that the plays make use of prejudice against foreigners whose presence was perceived as exacerbating the predicament of the native population.
The concern for social and financial matters is shared with the anonymous Impatient Poverty. In her study of this play Mullini seeks to encourage a revaluation of this neglected work, and she pinpoints the theme of the correct way to acquire and use wealth. Such a consideration cannot be without moral and religious implications and these she teases out against a background of the problems posed in mid-century by the nouveaux riches and the increasing perception of the problems of usury, which had been previously condemned on moral grounds. The importance of her study lies in its directing attention to financial and mercantile aspects of the interludes, and she makes it clear that that there are many other interludes which form a context and indeed an inter-textuality with the play she has studied. Moreover her re-reading of the play does much to rescue it from accusations of incoherence.Perhaps the most important aspect to have emerged from these studies is emphasized by Debax and Mullini. Those concerned with the creation and performance of interludes became increasingly aware that they offered two outstanding characteristics: the opportunity for providing skilful entertainment, which involved a remarkable development of theatrical competence within the genre, as well as the evolution of a network of writing, performing and printing which made them a powerful weapon of their time. In this connection there is a further area of investigation not attempted here: the role of the printers, who in their various ways brought these plays to the attention of a wider public. The mystery plays and the parish drama were not printed. The first extant printed play is Henry Medwall's interlude Fulgens and Lucres.' Hence forward printing conventions were developed in order to make the inter ludes more accessible, and this very process gave greater flexibility. It also helped to promote the long stage life we have noted, stretching well into the Reformation and beyond.'
The Tony Award : A Complete Listing of Winners and Nominees of the American Theatre Wing's Tony Award With a History of the American Theatre Wing edited by Isabelle Stevenson and Roy A. Somlyo (Heinemann) Presented each year by the American Theatre Wing and the Leaf of American Theatres and Producers, the Tony Award is one of am, theatre's most coveted awards, bestowed on professionals for distinguished achievement in the theatre. The Tony Award, Updated Edition, is a comprehensive listing of all nominees and winners " 1i« have reached this pinnacle of success‑from the very first Antoinette Perry Awards in 1947 to the most recent in 2000. Also included is a complete history of the award and of the American Theatre Wing, as well as comments from winners such as Audra McDonald, Susan Stroman, Faith Prince, Tony Walton, Tommy Tune, Lloyd Richards, and others.
Theatre/Archaeology by Mike Pearson and Michael Shanks (Routledge) is a brilliant and provocative challenge to disciplinary practice and intellectual boundaries. It brings together radical proposals in both archaeological and performance theory to facilitate a new way of investigating landscape and cityscape, and notions of physicality, encounter, site and context.
Theatre/Archaeology traces an evolving dialogue between ‑ and the gradual convergence and co‑mingling of ‑ two discrete projects: in performance and in archaeology. It has its origins in a somewhat unlikely place. At the beginning of the 1990s a center of archaeological theory was located in a small market town in west Wales, at the University of Wales, Lampeter. It was there that a series of encounters between performance and archaeology began. In their meetings and discussions, prehistorian Julian Thomas, classicist Michael Shanks and Mike Pearson, then artistic director of Welsh theatre company Brith Gof (translated ‑faint recollections), rapidly found mutualities of interest and approach. The initial talk was of archaeological excavation as performance event; of the dramatization of the past within heritage reenactments; of the sensualities of place; of the articulation of space, body and action in bounded contexts; of the problems of presentation and representation; of performance and the past as generative of, and constituted by, multiple and conflicting narratives. Above all, both disciplines acknowledged their functioning as modes of cultural production, involving the re-contextualization of material rather than its reconstruction.
In structure, this volume chronicles the development of the collaboration between Michael Shanks and Mike Pearson in their theoretical and practical endeavors, commencing with their interdisciplinary borrowing of certain notions and procedures to help expand and illuminate particular disciplinary perceptions and stances, and culminating in the joint elaboration of a blurred genre, a mixture of narration and scientific practices, an integrated approach to recording, writing and illustrating the material past.
Given the profligate adoption in cultural and critical theory and discourse of terms such as 'performance' and 'the performative' (and indeed 'archaeology' pace Foucault 1989) to describe notions of social affirmation, utterance and action ‑ from Erving Goffman to Judith Butler ‑ it was Julian Thomas who first suggested that the use of the term 'theatre' might help signal a specific focus on artistic practice and the aesthetic event and dispel any initial confusion about the situating of the discussants. The almost immediate and contrary use of 'performance' in place of 'theatre' in this text serves to indicate a particular concern with those genres of theatre that, by and large, are not reliant upon the exposition of dramatic literature and that 'stage the subject in process' (Reinelt forthcoming) rather than the 'character' and that attend to 'the making and fashioning of certain materials, especially the body and the exploration of the limits of representation‑ability' (ibid.). This is what we term 'performance'. And the 'performative' used herein, at least initially, has a rhetorical dimension.
Given the idiosyncratic and personal nature of two converging projects, it was inevitable that this volume should tend towards the (auto)biographical. But, as Walter Benjamin said, 'thus the traces of the storyteller cling to the story the way the handprints of the potter cling to the clay vessel'. From time to time, the book also relies heavily on others, for their thoughts have often led not merely to further intellectual reflection but to embodiment as tenets of practice or positions to be held, their origins obscured by what they have inspired. And here as Walter Benjamin said: it is granted to him to reach back to a whole lifetime (a life, incidentally, that comprises ___ not only his own experience but no little of the experience of others; what the storyteller __ knows from hearsay is added to his own). His gift is the ability to relate his life; his distinction, to be able to tell his entire life. The storyteller: he is the man who could let the wick of his life be consumed completely by the gentle flame of his story.
In this way the book necessarily has more than one voice. The typefaces change to indicate the personal voices of each of the authors, and also where they join, though the degree to which we have learned from each other makes this a crude device.
It begins in the present, with reflections on contemporary conditions in both fields of practice and discourse.
Dazzler: The Life and Times of Moss Hart by Steven Bach (Knopf) One of the great autobiographies of American theater is Moss Hart's compelling Act One (1962). That work, however, only covers Hart's life from his birth in 1904 into a poor Jewish family in Manhattan to 1930, the year of his first Broadway hit, Once in a Lifetime, written in collaboration with George S. Kaufman. Hart never wrote an Act Two, which is a shame, because his career following the opening of Once in a Lifetime was every bit as complex, dramatic, and trouble-filled as the initial 26 years leading up to his first great hit. Bach's fascinating, well-researched, immensely readable biography fills this gap, chronicling the full sweep of Hart's life, his early successes, his artistic missteps in middle age, and his later-life triumphs in the 1950s and 1960s as the screenwriter of the 1954 remake of A Start Is Born and the director of My Fair Lady and Camelot. This book corrects some of the elisions and memory lapses in Hart's own book, most notably his transformation of his psychologically troubled spinster Aunt Kate into a lovable eccentric whom, Moss argued, saved him in his poverty-filled youth by encouraging his creativity and his love of theater. Bach also tackles the tangled subject of Hart's ambivalent sexuality. His widow, Kitty Carlisle Hart, has always maintained Hart was straight as a blade. But Bach provides plenty of evidence to show that, at least until he married Carlisle and began to have kids, his sexual gate swung both ways.
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