PERFORMING ARTS

This Is Not My Memoir

Farrar. May 2020. 224p. ISBN 9780374298548. $26. THEATER
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When is a memoir not a memoir? For boundary-pushing theater director and My Dinner with Andre actor Gregory, the question is a sort of thesis, a musing on the tensions—between life and work, reality and falsehood, life and death—that consume avant-garde artists. Born into a dysfunctional family of wealthy Jewish émigrés fleeing Europe during the 1930s, Gregory recounts his early life as a spectacular swirl of tragedy and privilege, one that sets the stage for his later, almost comical searches for theatrical inspiration across countless borders of country, class, and culture. A mix of successes and failures leads to the discovery of Gregory’s artistic niche: small theatrical productions, rehearsed over many years, private and ephemeral yet somehow still aimed at posterity. But this book is more than an account of Gregory’s plays, roles, or foibles. Rather, it’s an intimate conversation between Gregory and readers (made possible by theater historian London) that asks us to listen to the ideas behind the words and emerge more thoughtful for it. Precisely what one would hope from half of My Dinner with Andre.
VERDICT This rare, beautiful book toes the line between life and work; a must for Andre fans and theater lovers. [Prepub Alert, 11/1/19.]

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