Selected from the first twenty years of the Humana Festival of New American Plays...
The continuing success of the one-act play in American theaters is evidenced by these two books, which include a startling array of stylesexamples of realism, fantasy, farce, tragedy, and even symposium plays are presented. Fourteen eclectic pieces, half of which are by major playwrights, comprise the latest volume in Applause's long-running annual celebration of the form. The most unusual work is a recently rediscovered text by Thornton Wilder, The Wreck of the 5:25, anthologized here for the first time. This play alone casts into clear relief the adventurous nature of contemporary playwrights (though the sparsity of major women playwrights here is notable). The Humana Festival, held at the Actors' Theatre in Louisville, has long been a venue for new plays. This fat collection contains the cream of two decades' worth of work. As fewer major playwrights are represented, these plays are more risky, more adventurous, and much more political. By and large, they test the limits of the form more rigorously than those found in the Applause collection. Both texts provide a wealth of source material for theaters, actors, and academic training programs. Both are recommended for academic and larger public libraries.Thomas E. Luddy, Salem State Coll., Mass.