(Caryn James’s article appeared in The New York Times, 12/3; via Pam Green.)

To John Lahr, joy in the theater is as much about artistic ambition and intellectual rigor as it is about simple happiness. The word infuses “Joy Ride,” his collection of profiles and reviews from more than 20 years at The New Yorker. He finds deep cultural resonance in August Wilson’s “Seven Guitars,” about blues musicians in the 1940s, because “it teaches through joy, not through reason.” The Broadway director Susan Stroman (“The Producers”), whose personal sorrows include the death of her husband, says, “Tapping into joy — it saves you.” And writing about the film and stage work of Ingmar Bergman, whom he visited at home on the island of Faro, Lahr finds “another kind of joy” in “the audacity of Bergman’s camera, in the vigor of his argument.” The word morphs as it meets its subjects.


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