New Book Looks at History, Work of Shakespeare & Company
LENOX, Mass. — The founding and philosophy of the internationally regarded Shakespeare & Company are now available in "Shakespeare & Company: When Action is Eloquence," co-written by company member Bella Merlin and Founding Artistic Director Tina Packer, with a special foreword by Artistic Director Allyn Burrows.
Drawing on previously unpublished material – including notebooks, lectures, interviews and rehearsal diaries – and the company's newly collated historical archive, the book provides insight into the works of a theater company, and sheds light on the role Shakespeare plays in the modern world.
Published by Routledge in March 2020, "Shakespeare & Company: When Action is Eloquence" is now on sale. Beginning Wednesday, May 6, Shakespeare & Company will present a series of virtual events to promote it.
"As we currently feel the challenges of social separation, now could be the perfect time to read this book," Merlin said. "The work initially pioneered by Tina Packer and Kristin Linklater in 1978 – sustained and emboldened by Shakespeare & Company for over 40 years through training, education and performance – heads straight to the heart of collective storytelling.
"I'm humbled, yet proud, to have been entrusted by Tina Packer, the late Dennis Krausnick, Kevin G. Coleman, and Allyn Burrows with telling the Company's collective story: it's arguably one of the biggest acts of love and service I've ever felt inspired to undertake."
The book is the first comprehensive investigation into the internationally acclaimed company founded in 1978 in Lenox by actor-director Packer and voice pioneer Linklater, with the idea of the transformative power of Shakespeare's language at its heart. The book poses the questions: Why act Shakespeare? What is his relevance in the 21st century? The answers to these questions lie at the center of this journey into Shakespeare & Company's aesthetics, pedagogy and practice.
"My relief at getting the book out about the training, education and performance methods of Shakespeare & Company is enormous," Packer said. "I hope others will be inspired and can use the knowledge we have put together over half a century to go even further! Theater not only tells the stories of our lives; the training methods we practice hold secrets of the body and the brain: it is life itself."
The book includes material on Shakespeare & Company's founding and early history, as well as its aesthetic, rooted in Elizabethan theater principles of the art of rhetoric, structure of the verse, voice and movement, clown, fight and actor/audience relationship. Additionally, the book encompasses the vocational components of its actor training Intensives, practical pedagogy of its education programs, and insights into its unique approaches to performance.
Notably the book also explores the impact and legacy of its three lifetime founding members: Dennis Krausnick (actor training), Kevin G. Coleman (education) and Packer herself.
"This is a powerful book," Burrows said. "Not only is it a page turner that delves into a unique philosophy and methodology around Shakespeare training, it also makes a compelling case for why we should continue to hold theater and theater companies in the forefront of our collective desires. As beautifully outlined by Bella Merlin and Tina Packer, Shakespeare & Company has taken the words of its namesake playwright and put them into practice with one goal, to learn what it is to be human through the union of language, heart, and mind."
The virtual book launch events include:
• Wednesday, May 6: Video Interview with Tina Packer and Bella Merlin, hosted by Allyn Burrows, sent via Shakespeare & Company's Newsletter and posted to Facebook at 11 a.m.
• Thursday, May 7: Facebook Live with Bella Merlin and Tina Packer from 4 to 4:45 p.m. on the Shakespeare & Company Facebook page. Additionally, the company will host virtual a book giveaway; copies will be signed and personalized by Packer.
• Thursday, May 14: Video Interview with Kevin G. Coleman, Tina Packer and Bella Merlin, hosted by Allyn Burrows, sent via Shakespeare & Company's Newsletter and posted to Facebook at 11 a.m.
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