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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: March ::
Re: Reviews
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0467  Wednesday, 11 March 2003

From:           Thomas Larque <
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Date:           Tuesday, 11 Mar 2003 20:08:54 -0000
Subject: 14.0453 Re: Reviews
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0453 Re: Reviews

>Indeed.  My point was the absurdity of Charles Weinstein's claim (in the
>posting to which I was responding) that English literature and theatre
>are mutually exclusive specialties.  The Columbia Dept. was, of course,
>English and Comparative Lit.

And Weinstein's point of view seems to be made all the more foolish by
the fact that Robert Brustein is apparently currently employed as
Professor of English at Harvard University (see
http://www.amrep.org/people/bob.html or search the Harvard "phonebook"
for contact details, showing that he apparently still works there).  It
seems, therefore, that despite his wonderful background in practical
theatre, also made clear by the website listed above, Brustein considers
himself to be an academic specialist in English, a breed that Weinstein
would like to suggest have a congenital inability to understand
practical theatre.

Reading Weinstein's constant attacks on performance criticism, I cannot
help but notice that the main argument seems to be that nobody should be
allowed to study or positively review any production that would not be
enjoyed and endorsed by Charles Weinstein.  Fortunately neither
newspaper reviewers nor academic performance critics seem likely to base
their decisions on Weinstein's - often rather peculiar - prejudices.

I have just been reading Elizabeth Schafer's very interesting
"Ms-Directing Shakespeare" (Women's Press, 1998) which examines
Shakespeare productions directed by women.  I can recommend this text,
which gives some very interesting insights into the gender politics of
Shakespearean production.  Doubtless Charles Weinstein would condemn the
book for being written by an academic (albeit a specialist in Drama and
Theatre Studies rather than English), for focussing on Directors that
are probably not on Weinstein's approved list (I wonder whether he
dislikes women directing Shakespeare as much as he dislikes homosexual
actors), and for considering productions which were loathed by the
reviewers along with those which received raves.  For those without Mr.
Weinstein's prejudices, however, "Ms-Directing Shakespeare" provides an
interesting analysis of a particular type of Shakespearean production,
and by examining a wide range of productions - not just those which were
successful - gives a more rounded and fully developed view of the
productions directed by women.

As somebody who enjoys watching and reading about a very wide range of
Shakespearean productions, I cannot say how glad I am that we are not
forced to live in the dreary world of Charles Weinstein's fantasy, in
which only productions vetted and quality controlled by Mr. Weinstein
and his ideological peers can be watched, considered, or written about,
and then only by people who pass the Weinstein test as to their personal
background and suitability as critics.

Thomas Larque.

"Shakespeare and His Critics"
http://shakespearean.org.uk

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