This is a book about the theater phenomenon. It is an extension of notes on the theater and theatergoing that have been accumulating for some time. It does not have an argument, or set out to prove a thesis, and it will not be one of those useful books one reads for the fruits of its research. Rather, it is a form of critical description that is phenomenological in the sense that it focuses on the activity of theater making itself out of its essential materials: speech, sound, movement, scenery, text, etc. Like most phenomenological description, it will succeed to the extent that it awakens the reader's memory of his own perceptual encounters with theater. If the book fails in this it will be about as interesting to read as an anthology of someone else's dreams. In any case, this book is less concerned with the scientific purity of my perspective and method than with retrieving something from the theater experience that seems to me worthy of our critical admiration.
Bert Olen States was a playwright, critic and a professor emeritus of dramatic arts at the University of California, Santa Barbara.