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The history and works of Shakespeare & Company are revealed in 'Shakespeare & Company: When Action is Eloquence,' co-written by company member Bella Merlin and Founding Artistic Director Tina Packer.

New Book Looks at History, Work of Shakespeare & Company

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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Drawing on previously unpublished material – including notebooks, lectures, interviews and rehearsal diaries – and the company's newly collated historical archive, the book provides insight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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Tanglewood Summer 2020 Season Canceled

LENOX, Mass. — Tanglewood live performance and education programs that had been scheduled to take place from June 19 through Aug. 27 have been canceled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Season offerings will now take place through the Tanglewood 2020 Online Festival, a digital series of audio and video streams, including newly created content to be recorded at Tanglewood's Linde Center in June and July, featuring artits and programs of the originally announced season. Content can be accessed through the website.

Newly created content includes Saturday evening performers in recital video streams, spotlighting some of the artists who were to appear in The Shed, as well as additional fuests, Including Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell And Jeremy Denk, Augustin Hadelich And Orion Weiss, Gil Shaham, Daniil Trifonov, Yo-Yo Ma, Conrad Tao, and Pinchas Zukerman and Amanda Forsyth.

Also new are recitals from the world stage, a Wednesday-evening series of video streams recorded at concert venues around the world and featuring artists who were to appear in Ozawa Hall this summer, including the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, Danish string quartet Silkroad Ensemble, Lucas And Arthur Jussen, Paul Lewis and Garrick Ohlsson, as well as Brooklyn Rider and Friday evening BSO musicians in recital, showcasing the talented musicians of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

In addition to the Tanglewood 2020 online festival free-of-charge offerings, other online programs ranging in price from $5 to $12 for a single stream, to $8 to $80 for multiple stream packages, are available for purchase online, beginning June 15. BSO board members and friends have joined together in these unprecedented times to match contributions made to the Boston Symphony Orchestra — with gifts of all sizes vital and appreciated — from May 15 through Aug. 31; details are available online.

Tanglewood grounds will be open to the public — with social distancing and safety and health protocols recommended by the CDC in place — Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon from July 5 through Aug. 23; visits to the grounds will require advance registration online at, beginning June 15.

The following 2020 Tanglewood popular artist concerts have also been canceled: Trey Anastasio, Brandi Carlile, Judy Collins And Arlo Guthrie, John Legend with special guests The War And Treaty, Patti Labelle and Darlene Love, The Mavericks With Los Lobos, Ringo Starr, James Taylor, "And Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me!" with Peter Sagal And Bill Kurtis. Artists who have already rescheduled their concerts for the 2021 Tanglewood Popular Artist Series include Ringo Starr (June 19), Trey Anastasio (June 18), Judy Collins And Arlo Guthrie (June 20) and James Taylor (July 4); the John Legend concert also will be rescheduled.

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