This interview collection is an effective time capsule of some of the best years of the American stage.
Ronald Rand’s Create! compiles interviews with many of the most important theater artists of the past few decades: actors, composers, directors, writers—and even clowns. A longtime stage and screen actor, and the publisher of The Soul of the American Actor, Rand has an impressive Rolodex, and he makes good use of it for this enjoyable volume.
The interviews are all short—about a page or two in length—with photos or illustrations of the artists and brief introductions to their work. Rand asked these artists questions specific to their work.
So it happens that Kelsey Grammar and Alec Baldwin discuss what keeps them doing live theater, long after they established personas in other media, while Eve Ensler discusses her transition from writing her work to performing it. Elsewhere, Al Hirschfeld argues for the importance of arts education and reminisces about the biggest personalities he caricatured.
Rand’s interviews took place as far back as the 1990s, so the work also includes a large number of deceased legends, including writer and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, monologue master Spalding Gray, actor Ossie Davis, and jack-of-all-trades Marvin Hamlisch. Particularly for such long-departed subjects, it’s nice to see one more interview each about their work. This also helps the book serve as an effective time capsule of some of the best years of the American stage and the artists who made that time possible.
With so many interviews packed into one volume, one can’t help but feel like individual attention could be longer, and quite a lot of the anecdotes and answers almost beg for follow-up questions. Still, it’s clear how many years of effort went into Create! The oversized layout is beautifully designed, the mix of interviewees is outstanding, and the book is packed with plenty of good stories from major artists, making it a unique and worthwhile collection.
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