THINK OF AMERICAN DRAMA AS AN UNWANTED BASTARD CHILD; FOR DECADES scholars and critics of literature have thought about it this way, when they have bothered to think about it at all. Historically most overlooked area in literary studies, it has also been most maligned and now, it seems, most unjustly neglected. George Beiswanger's assertion about drama, in an article entitled Theatre Today: Symptoms and Surmises written in 1944, captures bias against drama has prevailed in literary studies since field was institutionalized in twenties and thirties. is a fact, he writes, that imagination is not at home in medium of drama.... Serious drama, I surmise, is not an art. It has never been. We have no tradition of playwriting on deeper things of life.' John Gassner in Is No Drama, a response to New Criticism's hostility to drama, concedes the literary element was never strong point of playwriting.2 Eric Bentley, in a 1954 article, The Drama: an Extinct Species? draws a similar conclusion, 'there is no drama.' There is a lack not only of Shakespeares and O'Caseys but also of Dekkers and Joneses. In America playwriting is not yet a profession.3 Richard Gilman is as harsh: American drama is itself almost mindless. He continues by arguing it is at fault for refusal to take thought, its clinging to passion when passion is mere noise.4 Some might agree with these harsh assertions drama is not high literature but, given canon of literature now is opening up to embrace a wide variety of material, these elitist vilifications

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