Early in his career, Len Jenkin identified two qualities that theatre should have: wonder and heart. Imagination creates wonder by transforming nature to suggest more than nature. Love engages the heart on the quest to experience the wonder, for though Jenkin is an experimental playwright, his plays are not abstruse symbols. They are tales that take salesmen and actresses, historical figures and fictional characters, through a Stein landscape and a Kafka story, pop culture, and recreated scenes from the Bible and The Canterbury Tales, The Aeneid, and Headlong Hall to an amusement park ride and a penal colony, a flophouse and a garden. Bodacious verbal and visual images build in power until they soar as pilgrims tell tales to pass the night while waiting to cross the river; Hawthorne, Sophie, and Melville on the beach hear the ever-encroaching kraken; and Margo Veil essays the roles that all questing mortals play in life.
Robert J. Andreach is a New York University Ph.D. and former university professor. His most recent books are Creating the Self in the Contemporary American Theatre, Drawing Upon the Past: Classical Theatre in the Contemporary American Theatre, Understanding Beth Henley, The War Against Naturalism: In the Contemporary American Theatre, and John Guare's Theatre: The Art of Connecting.
Chapter 1 Acknowledgments Chapter 2 Introduction: Gogol and Kid Twist Chapter 3 Chapter One: Limbo Tales, Dark Ride, My Uncle Sam, and Poor Folk's Pleasure Chapter 4 Chapter Two: American Notes, New Jerusalem, Five of Us, and Careless Love Chapter 5 Chapter Three: A Country Doctor, Like I Say, and Pilgrims of the Night Chapter 6 Conclusion: Kraken and Margo Veil