The scoop on the American stage

Theater people are notoriously hard to buy for, since they’re often in the very show you want to give them tickets to see. Oh well. American Theatre, the journal that covers, well, American theater, has solved the problem by assembling a collection of the most important essays of the last four decades on the state of the American stage. The American Theatre Reader: Essays and Conversations from American Theatre Magazine ($24.95) covers every issue of importance to stage people for the last three decades or so. It includes the debate about race and American theater between the late August Wilson and Robert Brustein (moderated by Anna Deavere Smith); essays from Athol Fugard and Tony Kushner, Tina Howe and Diana Son; conversations with Sam Shepard, Jonathan Larson, Wole Soyinka and Stephen Sondheim. And that’s just the beginning. In short, it’s the perfect gift for the serious theater lover, even if you have to give it to yourself.