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Talking Shakespeare

Notes from a Journey


Louis Fantasia

Talking Shakespeare is a collection of essays on Shakespeare’s plays and politics and their impact in the world today. Originally given as provocative talks on Shakespeare at some of the most prestigious universities, conferences, and theatres around the world, they reflect on the author’s more than thirty-year career as a producer, director and educator. The essays provide a unique and personal look into multiple aspects of Shakespeare’s world—and ours.


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Introduction: “To be new made when thou art old:” Shakespeare, Sam Wanamaker, and Me


INTRODUCTION “To be new made when thou art old:” Shakespeare, Sam Wanamaker, and Me (This talk was given at the Arts Club of Chicago, May 6, 2015) I fear that, like Shakespeare’s most notorious villains— Iago, Aaron, or even Richard III— I have lured you here under false pretenses. Not that your lovely club bears any resemblance to a blasted heath, dank cave, or Tower of Lon- don, but that you have come here only to be robbed of your expectations. I imagine, given the generous announcement made about my talk, you ex- pected to hear how Chicago’s own Sam Wanamaker fell in love with Shake- speare while watching hour- long versions of the Bard’s plays in the British Pavilion at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. Or how, refusing to return to the States to appear before the House Un- American Activities Committee, Sam let his passport lapse, and lived and worked in London for decades. And how, grateful to his hosts, he wanted to see where Shakespeare’s theatre stood and found only a plaque from the Anglo- Indian Shakespeare Reading Society there, on the wall of the John Courage brewery. And how, outraged by it all, Sam launched a forty- year campaign to re- build Shakespeare’s Globe (or something very much like it) near its original site, battling British indifference, lack of funding, legal challenges from the street- sweepers of Southwark Borough, lack of funding, competing claims to the original and authentic designs of the theatre, lack of funding,...

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