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Greatness Thrust upon Them—Non-professional Actors and Directors Discuss Their Encounters with Shakespeare Reviewed By Gordon Osmond of Bookpleasures.com
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Gordon Osmond

Reviewer Gordon Osmond : Gordon is a produced and award-winning playwright and author of: So You Think You Know English--A Guide to English for Those Who Think They Don't Need One, Wet Firecrackers--The Unauthorized Autobiography of Gordon Osmond and his debut novel Slipping on Stardust.

He has reviewed books and stageplays for http://CurtainUp.com and for the Bertha Klausner International Literary Agency. He is a graduate of Columbia College and Columbia Law School and practiced law on Wall Street for many years before concentrating on writing fiction and non-fiction. You can find out more about Gordon by clicking HERE

Gordon can also be heard on the Electic Authors Showcase.







 
By Gordon Osmond
Published on July 7, 2014
 

Author:James F. Broderick

Publisher:Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

ISBN:ISBN: 1499268319 ISBN-13: 9781499268317

ASIN:BOOLFOJNIA



Author:James F. Broderick

Publisher:Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

ISBN:ISBN: 1499268319 ISBN-13: 9781499268317

ASIN:BOOLFOJNIA

In certain quarters there is the perception that the study and performance of Shakespeare is a kind of theatrical medicine that is good for you but not necessarily good to you. For those who so believe, it is Shakespeare, not greatness, that is thrust upon its practitioners.

It is unlikely that this notion has any chance of surviving the publication of James F. Broderick’s outstanding collection of “interviews” with 27 persons involved in one capacity or another, frequently in more than one, with the poet and playwright whose works have dominated English literature for more than 400 years. I put “interviews” in quotes to emphasize that these questions and answers are not to be confused with responses to prefabricated queries but rather interactive conversations where Broderick’s questions are formulated largely as a reaction to a subject’s previous statements. This approach provides a freshness and spontaneity that makes Greatness Thrust upon Them—Non-Professional Actors and Directors Discuss Their Encounters with Shakespeare a reading experience that is as delightful as it is illuminating.“Delightful” and “illuminating” are, in fact, themes that pervade most subjects’ assessment of their own connections with Shakespeare. It is a rare interview that does not contain references to the “fun” had in exploring Shakespeare whether as student, actor, director, or producer.

Perhaps the most impressive accomplishments in producing this book took place before a single word was committed to paper—the formulation of concept and the assembly of subjects having such disparate backgrounds and theatre histories. Ranging widely in age, education, geographical exposure, and initial and final employment, each Shakespearean responds to Broderick’s respectful but never less than searching questions, all of which leaves the reader with a deepened understanding of just why and how intensely Shakespeare is alive and well in the 21st century.

The book is a great deal more than a group of practitioners paying tribute to a literary master, for in the course of doing that, they also illuminate such peripheral but no less fascinating issues as differing acting methods, styles, and role preparation, the relationships among actors, the director/actor dynamic, the challenges of production, and, perhaps most tellingly, the different feelings of all involved on the subject of text tinkering and “modernization,” subjects upon which the bard himself might have a view or two.

Although Shakespeare is clearly the principal focus of Broderick’s work, he has wisely allowed, indeed encouraged, his subjects to relate their experiences and opinions about their work with other plays. This book should also be required reading for contemporary playwrights who are often frustrated with the approach and results of actors and directors presenting their plays.

I doubt that any future viewer of a Shakespeare play will fail to benefit from the probing queries presented in Broderick’s book, for just as the actors are breathing life into the characters they are interpreting on stage, the audience member will have a much clearer and comprehensive appreciation for what is breathing life into the actor and others involved in the production.

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