The Theater of Maria Irene Fornes

Edited by Marc Robinson
The Johns Hopkins University Press
September 1999
ISBN: 978-0801861543

“If art is to inspire us, we must not be too eager to understand. If we understand too readily, our understanding will, most likely, be meaningless. It will have no consequences. We must be patient with ourselves.” – Maria Irene Fornes

Edited by Marc Robinson, this casebook gathers new writing about Maria Irene Fornes and a broad selection of earlier essays, reviews, and interviews. Along with Fornes’s own engaging commentary on playwriting and the creative process, the anthology includes critical essays on her work with the Judson Poets Theatre and The Open Theater in the 1960s, her shift to greater psychological and formal complexity in the late 1970s, the lyrical politics of her theater from the 1980s, and the metatheatricality of her plays from the 1990s.

Throughout the anthology, textual analysis is balanced with production criticism. Contributors assess Fornes’s connection to the various traditions that have claimed her–absurdism, realism, and surrealism, among others. Several critics reveal Fornes’s range by delving deeply into individual plays, particularly the landmark Fefu and Her Friends. Her work as a director is captured in rehearsal logs, interviews with her actors, and a sampling of production reviews from 1965 to 1993. The anthology closes with Fornes’s own views on her work, in statements and interviews from each stage of her career. More than twenty production photographs accompany the text.

Contributors include Herbert Blau, Robert Coe, Susan Letzler Cole, Scott Cummings, Elinor Fuchs, Richard Gilman, Tony Kushner, Phillip Lopate, Bonnie Marranca, Erika Munk, Marc Robinson, Michael Smith, Susan Sontag, Ross Wetzsteon, W. B. Worthen, and others.