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inclusion. It's troubling, too, that the volume presents essays prepared by the Canadian Theatre Critics Association; can these writers who have (presumably) chosen to devote their intellectual/artistic sensibilities to an ongoing relationship with the stage really expose so little sense of commitment? The evidence is in the book: R.H. Thomson's perceptions about his own craft as an actor are strikingly more profound and vital than the perceptions of the men and women who will write about and evaluate his craft. The imbalance is disheartening. (URJO KAREDA) Michael Garneau and Tom Hendry, editors. The School/L'Ecole: The First Quarter of a Century of the National Theatre School of Canada Stanke. 200, illus. $19.95 paper As chairman of the committee that founded the National Theatre Schoolin 1960, it is hard for me to imagine that the NTS is now twenty-five years old. To commemorate the anniversary, an intriguingly honest and very personal book has been produced, a colingual collage of viewpoints about what the School has meant to nineteen different authors. The writing is uneven and there is some overlapping, but the changes of style and perspective are refreshing. Most of the reminiscences are short and pithy, and the contributors have not been afraid to juxtapose their praise with criticism. Although The SchoollL'Ecole is not a history in the usual narrative sense, its early beginnings are well documented. Roughly half the book is devoted to this task: it opens with a somewhat cursory introductory overview in English by Philip Spensley, followed by a witty and colourfully detailed historical account in French by the School's long-time administrator, Jean-Pol Britte. These essays are supplemented by Herbert Whittaker's warm remembrances of the institution's genesis and a touching tribute to Powys Thomas, first Head of the English-language section, by his Quebec confrere, Jean-Pierre Ronfard. For the historian there are photographic sections and richly rewarding appendices which meticulously list the names of all students and key administrative personnel over the years, cataloguing as well the nearly three hundred public exercises played before live audiences. It is a shame, therefore, that the editors did not complete their work with a simple index of names and plays. Although there are eleven English essays and only eight in French, Jean-Pol Britte's lengthy survey keeps the English-French balanre reasonably intact. From its title to the choice of photographs adorning the front and back covers, there has been a scrupulous attempt to mirror the School's colingual character. Several essays refer to tensions this has caused within the institution, and how the original ideal of producing bilingual performers had to be abandoned. The School remains 'national' in the sense that it is the only training ground operating in both official HUMANITIES 183 languages and supported financially by all ten provinces and the Canada Council. Also in recent years the NTS has consciously faced up to its title by introducing programmes in indigenous playwriting and by mounting an increased number of original and established Canadian plays in its public presentations. Michelle Rossignol, head of the French-language acting and playwriting section, gives a clear analysis of the teaching techniques employed , and is especially interesting on the audition and selection process (only 66 or so are chosen annually out of the nearly 1,000 who apply). John Hirsch comments that'good schools pick good students,' and there is a reprint of his glowing 1962 article on the School in action. This is undercut, however, by an acerbic estimate of contemporary English-language standards which, he feels, lack the brilliance of former days. Unfortunately there is no counter-reaction included from any of the key figures of the pasteighteen years. This is in fact one of the soft spotsin the book: its stress on the glories of the first seven years and its ignoring of the later ones, especially in the English section. We read fascinating chapters by Martha Henry, Diana Leblanc, and Heath Lamberts, but they were all graduates of the first class. Dixie Seatle's perceptively human contribution bridges the middle years (1970-3), but where is a representative voice from the young stars of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 182-184
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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