Drama Criticism

Theatre of the Absurd

Describing the philosophical school of existentialism, French novelist and playwright Albert Camus in The Myth of Sisyphus (1942) wrote, “[I]n a universe suddenly divested of illusions and of light, man feels an alien, a stranger. . . . This divorce… Read More ›

Theatre Guild

For almost 40 years, the Theatre Guild, which proclaimed the desire to advance theater as an art, as opposed to pursuing commercial reward at the box office, was among the most influential producing organizations in America. The Guild arose in… Read More ›

The Provincetown Players

The Provincetown Players was one of the most influential of the small, subscription theater groups that sprang up across America during the first two decades of the 20th century (see Little Theater Movement). Founded in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and later transplanted… Read More ›

Off-Off-Broadway Theater

Off-Off-Broadway is the experimental edge of New York theater. If Broadway is about commercial runs, and Off-Broadway today is about new voices and revivals, then Off-OffBroadway is about theater as performance, an affective experience. Jerry Talmer, writing for the Village… Read More ›

Off-Broadway Theater

Off-Broadway developed as an alternative to Broadway, one that would free the creative possibilities of the stage from commercialism. It came into its own in the 1960s and 1970s, with important productions and serious attention from drama critics and the… Read More ›

The Living Theatre

Founded in 1947 by Julian Beck and Judith Malina, the Living Theatre started inauspiciously in the Becks’ living room, seating not more than 20 spectators. In these early years, the company produced experimental work by Paul Goodman, Gertrude Stein, Bertolt… Read More ›

Hispanic Drama

The history of Hispanic drama in what is now the United States begins in 1598 in present-day New Mexico with a theatrical recreation of Cortés’s conquest of Mexico staged by Juan Oñate and his followers entitled Los Moros y los… Read More ›

The Group Theatre

Founded in 1931 by Harold Clurman, Cheryl Crawford, and Lee Strasberg, the Group Theatre was an ensemble theater formed as a response to the old-fashioned theater of light entertainment that prevailed in the late 1920s. During its 10-year existence, the… Read More ›

Gay and Lesbian Theater

The definition of what exactly constitutes “gay and lesbian theater” determines where one begins an examination of its place in American drama. Gay and lesbian drama is generally regarded as a contemporary phenomenon, denoting those plays specifically written or performed… Read More ›

African-American Drama

The history of African-American theater and performance has been tied to the social and cultural circumstances of African-American existence. Because of the particular historical conditions of African-American life, the representation of African Americans on stage has contained profound political, social,… Read More ›

Asian-American Drama

The acknowledged origins of Asian-American drama date to the 1890s and the controversial symbolist plays of Sadakichi Hartmann, including Christ: A Dramatic Poem in Three Acts (privately printed, 1893), Buddha: A Drama in Twelve Scenes (written, 1891–95; privately printed, 1897),… Read More ›

Drama Theory

Aristotle‘s Poetics, the first major text of Western drama theory, defined the terms of much subsequent discussion. Unlike such classical Eastern theoretical works on drama as the Sanskrit Natyasastra or Zeami Motokiyo’s writings on Noh, it makes only minor passing… Read More ›