The Point...

Reading Tynan reminds me of the beautiful dialogue that can occur when theatre is created thoughtfully, and when it is responded to in a thoughtful way by its auditor. The collection of essays and reviews contained in his Tynan on Theatre moves through various productions, and also reactions to questions and occurrences in the theatre world of the British, American, and European tradition. The overriding sense from Mr Tynan is that to be good, theatre must respond creatively to the world around it; famously in his debates with Mr Ionesco, he decried the idea that art is the source for future ideologies. In fact, I think the actual truth lies in a balance of the two. Truly great work responds to what is around it, but inspires that which comes after.

I found it fascinating to read Tynan's review of Waiting For Godot. Many of his descriptions articulate the way I felt upon reading this play....that it made me think about theatre and art and life in an entirely new and yet altogether familiar way. Beckett's genius is elloquently described by Tynan here. It makes me want to read this play again...and to see it performed!

- art, ethics, politics, and economics were inseperable from one another; i realized that theatre was a branch of sociology as well as a means of self-expression. (p13)
- to gain admission to drama, words must be used; they must put on flesh, throng the streets, and bellow through the buses. (p36)
- Ancient tragedy puts the question: "how are we to live?" Modern tragedy asks: "How am I to live?" That is the vital difference. (p151)

- (on Shakespeare) We stage the tragedies as if they were histories; instead of trying to make them timeless, we fix them in their own time and social setting. Tragedy, we now suspect, has no meaning apart from historical circumstance. (p98)

- (on a National theatre) Must we forever shrink from committing ourselves to a theatre which should enshrine our drama, cradle and nourish it, presenting eight times a week a performance of which we can say to our guests "This is English Acting. This is our style"? If it be argued
that there is no audience for such an experiment, I answer in the traditional maxim of the french actors; "The public always follows the crowd". And in any theatre, from Shakespeare's to our own, the intelligent public is ultimately the crowd. (p205)