Combining his skills as both a professional reviewer of theatre and a literary critic, Robert J. Andreach finds himself in a unique position to provide coherence to what most observers perceive as an unrelated welter of contemporary theatrical experiences. Exploring the theatre from the 1960s to the present, he shows the various ways in which the contemporary American theatre creates a personal, theatrical, and national self.
Andreach argues that the contemporary American theatre creates multiple selves that reflect and give voice to the many communities within our multicultural society. These selves are fragmented and enclaved, however, which makes necessary a counter movement that seeks, through interaction among the various parts, to heal the divisions within, between, and among them.
In his examination of the contemporary theatre, Andreach demonstrates that the plays and the performance art of the feminist, African-American, Hispanic-American, Asian-American, and Native American theatres are equal to the works created within the dominant Eurocentric culture.
He then turns to comparable works created within the culture of what performance artist Karen Finley calls the "one male god," works that reflect the breakup of an old order. He discusses the experimental theatre, which turns to the imagination to reveal the nature of the self, and concludes with an examination of recent American works, pointing out in each either the presence or absence of resolution within the divisions of self.