Theater: Myth, Ambition and Anger

In California, new plays tackle what it means to be American

Essayists on the American mind usually find it impossible to go much longer than two or three paragraphs before making some reference to Calvinism. But it takes guts for a playwright to make John Calvin, the 16th century theologian, an actual character onstage. Scholars of popular culture frequently assert that the national soul is mirrored in the game of baseball. Yet it takes great faith -- not only in his own intelligence but also in the audience's -- for a dramatist to depict the making of the American imperium through the life of centerfielder Ty Cobb. The nation's theater has long...

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