American Theatre: A Chronicle of Comedy and Drama, 1969-2000 by Thomas S. Hischak

By Thomas S. Hischak

Quantity 4 of the celebrated American Theatre: A Chronicle of Comedy and Drama sequence bargains a radical, candid, and interesting examine the theater in manhattan over the last many years of the 20 th century.

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Audiences were in agreement, and Sleuth ran for 1,222 performances, twice as long as Dial “M” for Murder and only two months shy of Angel Street’s record for a thriller. Everyone had heard about Edward Bond’s Saved (11-13-70, Cherry Lane) before it opened because of its notorious history. A scene in the play where a group of thugs stone a baby to death in its carriage got the play banned from production in England in 1965, and it was produced only after the official censor’s job was dissolved. Twice the play had been booked for New York, but both times it was canceled.

It was followed at the Public by one of the most acclaimed attractions of the season, Siobhan McKenna’s onewoman show called Here Are Ladies (2-22-71, Newman). McKenna performed women from the works of twentieth-century Irish writers, from Yeats to Shaw to Beckett, ending the evening with her sterling interpretation of Molly Bloom’s stream-of-consciousness soliloquy that concludes James Joyce’s Ulysses. Critics and awards committees handed McKenna bouquets of adulation, and the program was presented sixty-seven times.

Found out by a jealous uncle, Abelard is emasculated, and Heloise is sent to a nunnery. The touching coda showed the aged Abelard handing over the religious community he founded to Heloise, now an abbess. Critics were cautious in their acceptance, several of them comparing it to the contemporary novella Love Story that was on the best-seller list. Rigg and Michell got several nods, and many felt their softly lit, lyrical nude scene was the most tasteful yet seen on a stage. But the play was no Love Story at the box office, and it struggled on for fifty-three performances.

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