The Sixties, Center Stage offers rich insights into the innovative and provocative political underpinnings of mainstream and popular performances in the 1960s. While much critical attention has been focused on experimental and radical theater of the period, the essays confirm that mainstream performances not only merit more scholarly attention than they have received, but through serious examination provide an important key to understanding the 1960s as a period.
The introduction provides a broad overview of the social, political, and cultural contexts of artistic practices in mainstream theater from the mid-fifties to mid-seventies. Readers will find detailed examinations of the mainstream’s surprising attention to craft and innovation; to the rich exchange between European and American theatres; to the rise of regional theaters; and finally, to popular cultural performances that pushed the conceptual boundaries of mainstream institutions. The book looks afresh at productions of Hair, Cabaret, Raisin in the Sun, and Fiddler on the Roof, as well as German theater, and performances outside the Democratic National Convention of 1968.
“The Sixties, Center Stage expands our vision of this critical decade, reminding experimental-theater partisans that Broadway, established Off Broadway, high-profile festivals, and the nascent regional theater were sites of equally challenging innovation. Even more important, Harding and Rosenthal aim to dismantle the boundary between the mainstream and the fringe—to demonstrate that there was far easier exchange of ideas, preoccupations, and methods between the two camps than we usually acknowledge.”
— Marc Robinson, Yale University
“The editors successfully tackle the dichotomy that has long existed in the scholarly literature about American theater during the turbulent 1960s. Well-written, readable, entertaining, well-organized, and convincing, this book inspires readers to continue their search for ways in which false dichotomies can be exploded in other writings.”
— Elizabeth L. Wollman, Baruch College
James M. Harding is Associate Professor of Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Maryland.
Cindy Rosenthal is Professor of Drama and Dance at Hofstra University.