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From Half-Century to Millennium: the Theatre and the Electric Spectator

  • Eric Bentley

Abstract

Well into his eighth decade, Eric Bentley now regards himself as primarily a playwright, having redefined the agenda of serious criticism during the early post-war years, pioneered the understanding, translation, and production of Brecht in the West, and for long combined academic work at Columbia with producing the best kind of regular theatre reviews. Apart from several collections of that ‘occasional’ writing, and anthologies of plays in translation which have helped to extend the range of the English-language repertoire, he has produced several full-length studies of seminal importance – from his early re-evaluation of Shaw and, in The Playwright as Thinker, of other major modern dramatists, to the more theoretical but invariably stimulating ‘rethink’ of dramatic genres in The Life of the Drama. More recently, he has devoted his time to active playwriting, and it was during a production of his Lord Alfred's Lover in Miami that the director and self-proclaimed ‘counterfeit critic’ Charles Marowitz persuaded him to discuss the present state of both the active theatre in the West – and of the condition of the critical trade he had once pursued.

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From Half-Century to Millennium: the Theatre and the Electric Spectator

  • Eric Bentley

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