SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 1955
THE ,''CHIGAN DAILY
Two 'Scholarly' Theatrical Books Reviewed
By WILLIAM WIEGAND
of what kind of "theater" he was
THE paperback publisher pro- searching for.x
vides the reader no greater "THE Idea of a Theater" is
service certainly than that of re- frankly written by a scholar. -
printing worthwhile books which Although the note on the author
have either been too expensive in lists a couple of years of "prac-
their original editions or else have tical experience" in New York, Mr.
been somehow overlooked by peo- Fergusson's education at Harvard
ple who would have been interest- and Oxford is evidently a more
ed in them. important stumulus for his quest.'
In general, however, the pub- Also, his book, originally pub-
lisher will not offer a twenty-five lished by the Princeton University
or thirty-five cent reprint which Press, makes full use of highly
he does not believe has a chance technical idiom like "anagogue,"N
of finding a fairly large audience. "histrionic sensibility," and "mi-
metic perception," most of which
Highly specialized books and terms are adequately defined but
those of greater than average dif- nonetheless weighty to handle.
ficulty, consequently, often miss- Fergusson's purpose and method
d onpportunities fra chep cc- are, however, clear. He discovers an
print until the recent introduc-
tion of the 75c-95c paperbacks informing principle in each era
which are primarily aimed at a of the drama and demonstrates its
university audience. operation in terms of a typical
work of the particular period.
Two such books are Francis The organization, clear and'
Fergusson's "The Idea of a Thea- chronological, begins with "Oedi-
ter" (Anchor) and Eric Bentley's pus" and ends with Eliot's "Mur-
"In Search of Theater" (Vintage), dcr in the Cathedral." To explain4
Neither of these are going to broadly, Mr. Fergusson defines the
appeal to people who merely en- Greek theater as one informed by
joy leafing through the amuse- "imitation of action" plus "tragic
ment section on Sunday and'occa- rhythm." This is followed by bi- RETURN TO EARLY
sionally reading what Brooks At- furcation represented by the split
kinson had to say about Helen between Racine and Wagner, each DRAMATIC A
Hayes this week. of whom adopt a univocal sense
Both volumes require a deep of form. herent and consistent "idea of a
and abiding interest in the thea- Racine's theater achieves "per- theater."
ter and something like the dedi- feet" unity by a consistent belief
cation to its ideals which those in enlightened moral will or "rea- aHa aRE, ergustncalls,
two writers share. son"; Wagner, on the other hand, an analogic dramatist, moving
No casual interest will get one reduces the mode of being to pure toward chaos. After him, the great
through Fergusson, and even if it "passion." mirror held up to nature by the
is possible to skip the "heavier Both, in other words, impose a Elizabethans breaks into frag-
stuff" in Bentley, you would reach form or rhythm upon the world ments, leaving modern dramatists
the end without any earthly idea of action which provides a co- using only pieces.
A "theater, Mr. Ferguson sug-
gests, requires much more.
BENTLEY, though no less dedi-
cated a theoretician, is a
more informal analyst of the
£ ° He has to be because his book a
is not so well organized as Fer-
usson's, dealing as it does with
the manifold manifestations of
theater throughout the world as
Bentley found it in 1947 through
Germany, France, Italy, Eng-
land, Ireland, and this country
are all on Mr. Bentley's long itin-
erary, and his observations about
the theater in these places a
[ largely off-the-cuff notations o
"what I saw" and "how I felt."
Having done some directing and
producing himself along the way,
Bentley's opinions are, however,
t generally responsible ones, and as
a writer, he is both warm and
What Bentley claims to be
searching for specifically is "bed-
rock" drama. He says he is against
the "anti-realists" and he is
-nay-sam Ching against "decadence."
%RENA STAGING AT This presumably is intended to
give the picaresque narrative some
tTS CENTER central focus, some unifying point
Ibsen and Chekhov, the modern A close examination of the book,
realists, depend upon the actor, however, suggests that Bentley is
Fergusson tells us, and demand a usually able to call what he likes
faith in histrionic sensibility, as "realistic" and "bedrock" and
represented by the theories of the what he doesn't like "decadent."
Moscow Art Theater, to give their Brecht, for example, whom he
work coherence and form. likes becomes a Narrative Real-
After them, Fergusson deals ist; Cockteau "who always loved
briefly with Shaw and Pirandello, dressing up" is described as "de-
who have attempted to "free" the liberately meaningless."
theater from the fourth-wall "In Search of Theater" is ur-
heresy, bane and generally thoughtful. But
They pace the way for dramat- in gluing together a lot of news-
ics like Cocteau, Obey, and Eliot, paper and magazine articles, Bent-
who would return to myth and ley's glue sometimes shows.
classicism as an alternative to He need not have made his
the proliferate incoherence of the journeys seem like a mission, nor
realists. So far, Fergusson says, should he have been ashamed of
these dramatists are operating in a certain eclecticism in his tastes
a vacuum; they are not focused on He is a very intelligent boule-
the life of the times and hence vadier and might have settled for
provide "art for art's sake" only. that,
puts you right with the
new fashion trend for
smart trim appearance
and complete comfort.
They reflect your good
taste and bring many
admiring glances your
See them in the
SL95 and up
95$ to 15"
MAY 5, 6, 7, 8, 1955 - SIX CONCERTS
PHILADELPHIA ORCHESTRA THROUGHOUT
THURSDAY, MAY 5, 8:30 P.M.
Rudolf Serkin, Pianist, in the Concerto No. 2 in B-flat (Brahms). Prelude and
Fugue in C minor (Bach-Ormandy), and Symphony No. 5 in C minor (Beethoven),
Eugene Ormandy, Conductor.
FRIDAY, MAY 6, 8:30 P.M.
Missa Solemnis in D (Beethoven) with Lois Marshall, Soprano; Nell Rankin,
Contralto; Leslie Chabay, Tenor; Morley Meredith, Baritone; and University
Choral Union, Thor Johnson, Conductor.
SATURDAY, MAY 7, 2:30 P.M.
Viennese program-Jean Mitchell, Violinist, in Mozart Concerto in A major.
Mozart Sinfonia Concertonte, with John delancie, Oboe; Anthony Gigliotti,
Clarinet; Sol Schoenbach, Bassoon; and Mason Jones, Horn. Overture, "Donna
Diana" (Reznicek); and Symphony in B minor (Schubert), Eugene Ormandy,
Viennese Folk and Art Songs by Festival Youth Chorus, Marguerite Hood, Conductor.
SATURDAY, MAY 7, 8:30 P.M.
William Warfield, Baritone, in songs by Handel, Brahms, and Aaron Copland.
Overture and Allegro from "La Sultane" (Couperin-Milhaud); Epigraph (Dello
Joio); and Concerto for Orchestra (Bartok), Eugene Ormandy, Conductor.
SUNDAY, MAY 8, 2:30 P.M.
Grant Johannesen, Pianist in Concerto No. 3 (Prokofieff), "Carmina Burono"
(Carl Orff), with Lois Marshall, Soprano; Leslie Chabay, Tenor; Morley Meredith,
Baritone; and University Choral Union, Thor Johnson, Conductor.
SUNDAY, MAY 8, 8:30 P.M.
Rise Stevens, Mezzo-soprano, in operatic arias. Concerto Grosso for Strings (Ernest
Bloch); Symphony No. 4 in F minor (Tchaikovsky), Eugene Ormandy, Conductor.
Programs subject to necessary changes.
SEASON TICKETS: 13.00 - 10.00 - 9.00 - 8.00 NOW ON SALE
ZINO FRANCESCATTI, Violinist-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-Monday, March 7
BERLIN PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA,
Herbert von Karajan, Conductor - . . - Tuesday, March 15
WALTER GIESEKING, Pianist-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-Tuesday, March 22
NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC-SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA,
Dimitri Mitropolous, Conductor (2:30 p.m.). . Sunday, May 22
INDIVIDUAL TICKETS: 3.!
UNIVERSITY MUSICAL S
50 - 3.00 - 2.50 - 2.00 - 1.50 Now On Sole
SOCIETY, BURTON MEMORIAL TOWER.
TICE & WREN C 4 ot, fl/or len
1107 South University -- Across from the A.A. Bank