The Theater of Terrence McNally: Something about Grace (Hardcover)
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Terrence McNally's canon of plays, books for musicals and opera libretti possesses such a breadth of subject matter and diversity of dramatic modes that critics have had difficulty assessing his accomplishment. This book is the first critical study to identify the four major stages of McNally's development in terms of his understanding of how theater helps the modern person trapped in a seemingly profane existence to find a gateway to the transcendent. Drawing upon such diverse religious thinkers as Martin Buber, Mircea Eliade, Ilia Delio and Carter Heyward, Frontain analyzes the evolution of McNally's understanding of grace, not as a gift bestowed by an all-powerful deity upon a desperate soul, but as the unwarranted-and, thus, all the more unusual-"act of devotion" (McNally's phrase) that one person performs for another. By seeking to foment community, most importantly at the height of the AIDS pandemic, McNally's theater itself proves to be a channel of grace. McNally's greatest success is shown to be the creation of a theater of empathy and compassion in contradistinction to Artaud's "theater of cruelty" and Albee's Americanization of the theater of the absurd.
About the Author
Raymond-Jean Frontain is professor of English and former director of the Humanities Institute at the University of Central Arkansas.