The Stuff of Dreams: Behind the Scenes of an American Community Theater

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June 08, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

With amateur theater companies numbering in the thousands, what prompts participants to pour out their ”time and money, sweat and heart” for ephemeral, unpaid work? Journalist Cohen finds out by showcasing a typical group, Massachusetts’ conservative Arlington Friends of the Drama, as it stages its most controversial play yet: the gender-bending ”M. Butterfly.” The auditions, rehearsals, personality clashes, and ultimate success of the play are all meticulously observed. But what steals the show are Cohen’s quirky, humorous memories of her own theater work — with the fantastical Bread & Puppet Theater (in Vermont), as a studiedly black-clad NYU drama major, and a surreal stint stilt-dancing in Nicaragua. These chronicles most sparklingly capture theater’s raison d’etre — ”the elaborate, devotional practice of play, of playing, of exploring imagined lives.”

The Stuff of Dreams: Behind the Scenes of an American Community Theater

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The Stuff of Dreams: Behind the Scenes of an American Community Theater

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