Jonathan Kalb on GREAT LENGTHS: SEVEN WORKS OF MARATHON THEATER
Why do some dramatic creations extend to five hours or more, and how does their extreme length help them accomplish extraordinarily ambitious aims? In Great Lengths, theater critic and scholar Jonathan Kalb addresses this and other questions through a close look at seven internationally prominent theater productions, including Tony Kushner's Angels in America, Robert Wilson's Einstein on the Beach (recently revived at BAM), and the Royal Shakespeare Company's Nicholas Nickleby. Kalb reconstructs each work, re-creating the experience of seeing it while at the same time explaining how it maintained attention and interest over so many hours, and then expanding in scope to embrace a wider view and ask broader questions.
Great Lengths offers a remarkable panorama of the surprisingly broad field of contemporary marathon theateran art form that diverse audiences of savvy, screen-weaned spectators continue to seek out for increasingly rare experiences of awe, transcendence, and sustained immersion during an attention-challenged, media-saturated era. It was given the George Freedley Memorial Award by the Theatre Library Association as one of the best performing arts book of 2012.
Jonathan Kalb is a theater critic and scholar whose work has appeared in the Village Voice and the New York Times. He is Professor in the Department of Theater at Hunter College, City University of New York, and the author of Beckett in Performance and The Theater of Heiner Müller.
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