Monday, May 02, 2005


Mel Gussow

I was sorry to read about the death of Mel Gussow in the New York Times. In the obituary, Jesse McKinley notes that Gussow's interview collections became "staples of college drama curriculums and the libraries of gossip-loving theater fans," and although I don't quite fit into the latter category, Conversations With and About Samuel Beckett is sitting right here on the shelf next to my desk. As the obit also makes clear, Gussow knew how to handicap a horse race: he was an early champion of Albee, Beckett, Pinter, Stoppard, and such (relatively) young Americans as Sam Shepard, David Mamet, John Guare, and Robert Wilson. And let's not overlook this priceless bit:
In a lecture, called "The Role of the Critic," Mr. Gussow told an anecdote about an actor who played the doctor who appears only very briefly in "A Streetcar Named Desire." Mr. Gussow said the actor described the play this way: "It's about this doctor who takes this crazy lady off to an asylum." It taught him much, he said, about what it means to be a player, of any sort, in the theater.

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