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This review is taken from PN Review 151, Volume 29 Number 5, May - June 2003.

IMPULSES AND EVENTS LOUIS FANTASIA, Instant Shakespeare: A Proven Technique for Actors, Directors and Teachers (Ivan R. Dee, Chicago) $26

In a letter to Philip Franks of the National Theatre, written in 1997 and published in the recent fifth volume of his Letters, Edward Bond remarks that `Theatre is about acting... (W)riters are good only if they provide situations and problems for actors to use. Because so much "academic" work is done on Shakespeare outside the theatre, an over-emphasis is put on Shakespeare's language. Well, his drive for logic - in definition of ideas and definition of passion - does drive him to find the right words... but his greater craftsmanship is in creating situations.'

This is well said. It is also a fact that a great deal of the academic interpretation of Shakespeare's plays, particularly the post-modernist kind, is almost wholly irrelevant in the theatre, and has nothing to do with the task of dramatic interpretation. But a great many academic intellectuals, including some, as I know from experience, in important positions at drama colleges, are simply not aware of this. They are clever people, trained in particular, limited ways. They are dogmatic, indifferent to fact, and quite often slovenly and dishonest (as Camille Paglia, who admires Louis Fantasia's book, has remarked). And, accustomed to quick results in matters of learning, they assume, in the main unconsciously, that a play is not fundamentally different from some abstract intellectual problem awaiting solution, that an intellectual understanding, arrived at through the application of analytical `tools', often of dubious value, in order to effect a reduction to other, peripheral, ...


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