The Critic Comes Full Circle: An Interview with Kenneth Tynan

Editors of Theatre Quarterly

In his first book of collected reviews, He That Plays the King ( 1950), Kenneth Tynan championed a theatre of heroic acting--while in Curtains ( 1961), containing his vintage Observerand New Yorker reviews, he called for and gave coherence to a more socially-directed drama. Rerently he has combined his work as literary manager for Britain's National Theatre with such independent enterprises as masterminding the Productions of Soldiersand Oh! Calcutta!


Function of the Critic

Do you have regrets that you aren't any longer yourself uniting criticism?

None at all. I did it for twelve years, and so did Max Beerbohm. I think that's long enough. After that you are recording not what is actually happening to your sensibility but what you think ought to be happening to it, or what once happened to it. After twelve years of seeing four or five plays a week your reactions have been so trampled on that it takes years of convalesence. You are left with a clear knowledge of what you liked, but the vocabulary of disapproval has begun to pall. Suddenly you become--at least I became--much more interested in concocting the recipe than in being a rented palate.

One sewed, reading some of your later reviews, especially when you got back from America, that a sourer note was creeping in--the enthusiasm had gone, if you like. . . .

Or rather had become confined to the things that one was really keen about. One of those things was to be in touch with

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