Spring 1956 • Vol. XVIII No. 2 Book ReviewsApril 1, 1956 |

A Memory for the Theatre

The Modern Theatre edited by Eric Bentley in three volumes. Anchor Books. 95¢ each. One of the worst traits of Broadway is its lack of a memory. The commercial theatre can survive only as big business: it is obliged to stake everything on the hit of the moment, counting on a long run, touring companies, and the sale of movie and TV rights. It is true that the theatre is notoriously short-lived anyway, but our system guarantees that the play will be done to death and then totally forgotten. And that is one reason why we do not develop a discriminating audience for the theatre comparable to that of music or ballet. The repertory theatres of the continent provide a kind of memory for the theatre, and so make possible the cultivation of that art in the light of some common critical awareness. We tried to emulate those theatres in this country, in the 'twenties; and now we have the off-Broadway move- ment which also tries to keep a repertory alive. As I write one can see, off-Br

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