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Reviews261 [sic]) of all transliterations that are at odds with her own system. Overall this book is a compact, informative introduction to Stanislavsky and the American and Soviet theater contexts into which he was received and by which he was adapted. It will be read with great benefit by undergraduate and graduate students alike; for those who have been studying the great Russian director for years and are certain they"know"Stanislavsky it is sure to be eye-opening and interesting reading as well. Jason Merrill Drew University W. B. Worthen. Shakespeare and the Authority ofPerformance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997. Pp. ? +255. $49.95 casebound, $17.95 paperbound. Thirtyoddyears ago orso,English departments across thisgreen and pleasant land discovered that Shakespeare was a playwright. This revelation, coming as it did after centuries of philological commentary in various guises, shapes, and forms, produced a new breed of scholar-commentators known as performance critics. And they wrote, or so it seemed, something called performance criticism. Those of the lower orders, suspicious souls who had labored in the pragmatic world ofthe theater itself, regarded this activity with much misgiving , if not downright contempt. Was not all this clever word-making no more than armchair directing? How could you possibly write a how-to-do-it handbook about something you had never done yourself? Who told you that such and such a scene went in such and such a place on that notoriously hidden, mysterious world known as the open stage of the Elizabethan theater? But no matter: these intrepid types, ever au courant in the quixotic world of much, if not all of the hypertrophically politicized, massively egocentric world of contemporary scholarship, somehow knew the absolute truth about what went where, orwho didwhat inAct 3, scene 2 of Twelfth Night.And those brave souls who dared ask the simple-minded,perhaps simplistic questions about this questionable activity were silenced with book after book that flowed unceasingly into the great delta-like world ofShakespearean studies. Fortunately, a goodly number ofthese still-born exercises have moved into their own richly deserved obscurity, languishing on those famous dust-filled library shelves, presumably or hopefully forgotten. And no sensible theater-worker would give diem more than a passing nod, as he or she walked offto rehearsal ready to confront a cast with the day's job. Skeptics or the ancient, remaining, hard-nosed, traditionally -minded churls who still inhabit the academic landscape (hopefully ever 262Comparative Drama conscious ofthe wild, free world which is the creative genius ofthe playhouse, a place that will never change and yet, paradoxically, is always changing) can take some relish in the partial diminution ofthese matters. The distinguished work of J.L. Styan or Bernard Beckerman, for example, (both ofwhom owe a great deal to their magnificent predecessor, Granville-Barker) never trapped itself in the dead-end chatter that sustained the daily life of the performance critics, as theytenaciouslymarked out theirturfwith theirBabel-like mutterings. Now the admittedly truncated, hasty, exceedingly opinionated, and probably overstated remarks above barely hint at the plethora ofapproaches underwaythesedays indierichlyfertilelandofShakespeareanstudies. Everyoneknows that Shakespeare has been subjected to approaches that often defydescription, and suggest insteaddesecration,in the name ofdramatic art,criticism,or scholarship . And the book here under review is but another tendentious foray intended to be"about theatrical performance [ofShakespearean plays] at the end of the twentieth century (2), or a summation of"an important theoretical advance in the performance criticism ofShakespeare," or so the encomiastic tribute ofthe publisher trumpets on the back cover. Four chapters comprise this offering, treating in some kind of ascending order of importance, the text, director, actor, and the current state ofthe tired, tiring, and tiresome battle ofthe page vs. the stage, a survey of the history and development ofperformance criticism, a matterverymuch in need ofa prompt burial. But ifnothing else, this exercise is, ostensibly, up-to-date, laced with all the pertinent, timelyterminology now in use: for instance, plays no longer have performances, but "iterations, or "surrogations." And the stage is not a "natural " site for drama to take place, but one of many venues in which contemporary culture affords all kinds of spaces, as the 60s taught us so well. Portmanteau...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 261-264
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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