Prospero's "True Preservers": Peter Brook, Yukio Ninagawa, and Giorgio Strehler--Twentieth-Century Directors Approach Shakespeare's the Tempest

Prospero's "True Preservers": Peter Brook, Yukio Ninagawa, and Giorgio Strehler--Twentieth-Century Directors Approach Shakespeare's the Tempest

Prospero's "True Preservers": Peter Brook, Yukio Ninagawa, and Giorgio Strehler--Twentieth-Century Directors Approach Shakespeare's the Tempest

Prospero's "True Preservers": Peter Brook, Yukio Ninagawa, and Giorgio Strehler--Twentieth-Century Directors Approach Shakespeare's the Tempest

Synopsis

"Prospero's "True Preservers" is a performance study and analysis of six productions of The Tempest (three by Peter Brooks, two by Giorgio Strehler, and one by Yukio Ninagawa), each performed in a different decade since World War II, and employing four different languages (English, Italian, French, and Japanese). This study explores the ways in which each of these productions reflects the historic period and cultural milieu in which it was mounted. At the same time, it documents how Brook, Ninagawa, and Strehler adapted and applied African storytelling techniques, textual deconstruction, traditional Japanese art and theatrical forms, and Italian stage tradition to the performance of Shakespeare and investigates how these three directors' diverse applications to the same canonical work have contributed to the development of the modern stage director." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

The director's fearsome responsibility is not limited, as one might think, to functioning as a referee. A director must create internal, thoughtfully assimilated discipline . . . a mentality, a style. An unmistakable style.

—Giorgio Strehler, "Responsibilities of Directing”

THE YEAR 1611 MARKED THE CONVERGENCE OF TWO GREAT THEATRIcal traditions. In that year William Shakespeare's play, The Tempest, about the banished Duke of Milan was first staged. It was also the year of the publication in Venice of Flaminio Scala's Il teatro delle Favole rappresentative, the first collection of Italian commedia dell'arte scenarios, gathering the structural elements of commedia and introducing them to an erudite reading public (Richards and Richards, Commedia dell'arte, 145). The Tempest was the last independently created work in Shakespeare's stage history. The free-form improvisatory performance style of commedia dell'arte and the staging of Shakespeare were both to have enormous influence upon Western theater over the next four hundred years.

Commedia dell'arte and Shakespeare were successfully amalgamated in the productions of Giorgio Strehler, especially in his stagings of The Tempest in 1948 and 1978. However, Italy's theatrical traditions required a four-hundred-year gestation period before the union of seventeenth-century English theater and the commedia dell'arte was finally achieved. Ironically, in order to blend the spontaneity of commedia dell'arte with the text and structure of Shakespeare's stage, an autocratic, single-minded theatrical director like Giorgio Strehler was required.

From their beginnings in the mid-sixteenth century, the rival Italian theatrical traditons, commedia erudita and commedia dell'arte, had different structures and rules. Commedia erudita had . . .

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