An extensive history of The Royal Shakespeare Company's studio theatre, Studio Shakespeare: The Royal Shakespeare Company at The Other Place also includes a biography of its founder and first artistic director, Mary Ann 'Buzz' Goodbody (1947-75). Alycia Smith-Howard reveals how, as a socialist, feminist, and the RSC's first female director, Goodbody sought to invigorate classical theatre and its approach to producing the works of Shakespeare. The Other Place, which opened its doors in 1973, was her greatest achievement, and was, in the words of Ron Daniels of the American Repertory Theatre, 'a training ground for an entire generation of Shakespeare actors and directors'. The volume examines Shakespeare productions at The Other Place from 1973 to its closure in 1989. The author's sources include Goodbody's 'Mission Statement' for the studio theatre as well as other previously unavailable materials such as Goodbody's private papers, journal entries, director's notes and correspondence. In addition, it contains interviews and commentary from such theatrical luminaries as Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Ben Kingsley, Cicely Berry, Trevor Nunn, Peter Hall, Patrick Stewart, and many others. Smith-Howard's narrative discusses productions of twelve plays at The Other Place, among them King Lear (1974), Hamlet (1975), The Merchant of Venice (1978), Antony and Cleopatra (1982), King John (1988) and Othello (1989). The cast lists of productions at The Other Place are included in an appendix. Smith-Howard's study captures the spirit and ethos of an important and radical exercise in theatre which influenced the mainstream work of The Royal Shakespeare Company. It is a lucid, compelling and valuable contribution not only to Shakespeare studies but also to theatre history. This book, as directors once said, 'has legs'.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction; New beginnings and methods of change; King Lear and the commitment to education; Late plays and 'neglected classics'; Claustrophobic tragedy and 'close up' comedy; Approaches to history; Conclusion; Bibliography; Cast lists of productions discussed in the text; Index.
Alycia Smith-Howard is a Shakespeare scholar, performance historian, and theatre director. She is a graduate of The Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon, England, where she received both her M.A. (Shakespeare Studies: Text & Performance) and Ph.D. (Performance History). Smith-Howard is the co-author of The Critical Companion to Tennessee Williams (Facts on File, 2005), and the editor of Suzan-Lori Parks: A Casebook (Routledge, 2006).
'... a meticulously researched and richly informative study of a vital part of modern theatrical history.' Michael Billington, Theatre Critic, The Guardian, UK '...a very important book in that it sets out in great detail the history of The Other Place ... It traces how this space, through the vision of Buzz Goodbody, together with her strong political beliefs, changed the dynamic of the actor/audience relationship ... Alycia Smith-Howard writes with great insight and detail, and gives a very moving account of Buzz’s work on her last production”Hamlet. It is an illuminating and very readable account of that other place.' Cicely Berry, OBE, Hon. D. Lit., Voice Director: Royal Shakespeare Company ’[Smith-Howard provides] valuable documentary evidence of the shifting nature of performance. Indeed, the documentation throughout is thorough and the detailed referencing of her material is particularly useful for fellow researchers. The study is particularly rich in its account of the Other Place's founder, Buzz Goodbody... [Smith-Howard] has undertaken a number of interviews supplying invaluable insight into Goodbody's passion and alternative approach.’ Theatre Research International ’Goodbody's vision of what The Other Place might be - political, intimate, passionately alive - is freshly and vividly evoked... Smith-Howard raises important questions about Goodbody's career... the value of this book is that it rightly reminds readers of the importance of Buzz Goodbody and her theatre work.’ New Theatre Quarterly