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humanities 339 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 etc; with similar special spreads for Bill Hutt and Martha Henry and for Brian MacDonald=s groundbreaking production of The Mikado. And comments by the performers themselves are featured in frequent sidebars, many of them borrowed from the series that became Stratford Gold. Inevitably, no one can expect always to agree with Cushman=s judgments , and occasionally a section may seem a little bitsy; but Cushman is adept at varying his pace and can catch the essence of a particular performance with sharp and witty phrasing B Paul Scofield=s >haggard, crack-voice distinction= as Coriolanus, for example, or the >taut, flexible, viola voice= of Hutt. Quite rightly, Cushman insists on Richard Monette=s solid virtues as actor, director, and administrator, but Fifty Seasons, despite its official backing, has no trace of the wish-to-please that occasionally mars the other two books. Cushman can be quite critical of some programming decisions and productions, though he is always gentle with individual performers. Fifty Seasons concludes with a protest against shabby treatment of the Stratford Festival in the recent Oxford Companion to Shakespeare (by an Ottawa academic, no less) and ringingly restates the great theatre=s importance: >For what it has achieved, for what it has engendered, and for what it has provoked, the Stratford Festival is the best thing ever to have happened to the Canadian theatre.= Fifty Seasons is both a valuable record and a thoroughly delightful entertainment. Every Canadian library and all Stratford habituees will want to own it. (BRIAN PARKER) Diana Brydon and Irena R. Makaryk, editors. Shakespeare in Canada: >A World Elsewhere=? University of Toronto Press. xii, 490. $65.00 Irena Makaryk=s introduction to this excellent collection traces Canadian Shakespeare productions back to eighteenth-century garrison troupes. Makaryk examines the impact of the Massey Commission=s call for a national theatre, discusses the hegemony of the Stratford Festival, and concludes , upon surveying the >most common way of presenting Shakespeare in Canada: ... under a tent or in the park,= that >the underlying message of most [summer] productions is that the plays are boring and therefore require gimmicks.= To me the most powerful essays are Anthony Dawson=s and Alexander Leggatt=s. Dawson explores an impasse: while recent academic Shakespeare criticism deplores reducing plays to >character,= for the actors and directors whom Dawson interviewed it is >an unquestioned truth that what the actor does is create character.= While academic criticism scoffs at the notion that Shakespeare is timeless and taps into a >human nature= transcending culture, actors and directors serenely accept Shakespeare=s timelessness and 340 letters in canada 2002 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 penetrating insight into human nature. In an even-handed attempt to mediate between conflicting camps, Dawson assesses the strengths and shortcomings of both views. Leggatt, venturing that in a country where >the greatest fear is that the strains of diversity will tear us apart ... the enemy is decisiveness,= compares legendary Canadian indecision (exemplified in Mackenzie King=s >genius in refusing decisions=) with that >classic defence of indecisiveness in art,= Keats=s negative capability, and aligns Canadian indecision with Shakespeare=s famous >refusal to take sides.= Extending this wonderful cultural insight, Leggatt offers a brilliant reading of Cymbeline. (Through such a lens, Dawson=s generous refusal to take sides looks quintessentially Canadian.) The essays do not flinch at acknowledging that Shakespeare=s presence has sometimes been baleful. According to Marta Stroznicky, that this English writer has been assumed to be >unproblematically part of Canada=s cultural heritage= rebuffs the nation=s other ethnicities. The Massey Report=s >vehemence concerning the classics= and the >favouring of Shakespeare at the Stratford Festival= have, suggests Margaret Groome, undermined efforts to foster Canadian playwriting. Stratford takes a pounding in this collection, for its >automatic equation of quality with lushness and spectacle,= its treating Shakespeare >as an antique ... [with] little relevance to present problems=; for being dominated by foreign directors and actors, for >enshrining Canada=s colonial dependence ,= for being a >consumerist, philistine festival.= As C.E. McGee notes, while >a rhetoric of Canadian nationalism had been deployed from...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 339-341
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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