The Disreputable Profession: The Actor in Society

The Disreputable Profession: The Actor in Society

The Disreputable Profession: The Actor in Society

The Disreputable Profession: The Actor in Society

Synopsis

"Mendel Kohansky's The Disreputable Profession is a social history of the actor in Western culture. The paradoxical role of the actor as sinner and saint from social, religious, moral and political perspectives is studied to support the author's theory that actors have always been treated as a group apart, with a mixture of contempt, fascination, and awe.... Extensive research has produced a book full of carefully preserved anecdotal material as recorded by contemporary chroniclers and gossips.... Insight, understanding, and perspective for professionals as well as for laymen are provided in this work." Broadside

Excerpt

The Disreputable Profession is being published posthumously. The author, Mendel Kohansky, was a noted writer and theatre critic. It was his intention to show in this book that actors throughout history have been treated as a group apart, with a mixture of contempt and awe--placed at the bottom of some societies in the same categories as thieves and prostitutes and denied religious and civic rights, while in others they were regarded as practicing a legitimate profession. But the basic attitudes toward the profession, both social and cultural, remain the same, rooted in an unchangeable social psychology.

The author's interest in the theatre and respect for those associated with the profession--actors, teachers, directors, writers, critics, and most of all, the audiences--inspired him to devote many years of his life to the research required in preparing this work. Unfortunately, he passed away while completing the notes and bibliography. While every effort has been made to fill in the gaps he left, the possibility exists that in some cases sources, authors, publishers, or page numbers may have been omitted inadvertently. Since much of the research was done in American, British, and European libraries, museums, and archives, the omissions indicate that I was unable to track down the information here in Israel, in spite of my attempts to do so. I beg the indulgence of the reader and any source if such an error of omission does exist and apologize for it.

Because of the regrettable circumstances, I also apologize for my inability to mention by name all of the persons who had provided . . .

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