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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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Chapter 4. Notes on Plays—With Apologies to Harley Granville-Barker


· 4 · NOTES ON PLAYS— WITH APOLOGIES TO HARLEY GRANVILLE- BARKER (Since 2005, I have been lucky enough to lead “Shakespeare at the Huntington,” the teacher- training Institute of the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California. Each summer we take between twenty and twenty- four teachers for a two- week program, and each summer is built around a theme of selected plays. I send the participating teachers notes on what to look for in the plays. While not technically talks, they seem to have been useful introductions to the plays. The excerpts were originally written between 2011 and 2013) How to Read Henry VI— All Three Parts! Imagine, if you will, a time- line of names over the past fifty or sixty years of Amer- ican history: Kennedy- Reagan- Bush- Clinton- Bush- Gore- Kennedy- Clinton and so on. There might be a secondary line of Rockefeller- Romney- Brown, and other lesser political dynasties. Then there might be the singular names that pop up: Nixon, Carter, Obama, Palin (or Trump) and so on. Against these horizontal lines are vertical intersects where would you place events such as Iran, immigra- tion, inflation, Communism, terrorism, war, taxes, health care, racism, Oprah, the Internet, Red Sox and Yankees, just to name a few. The same names would frequently intersect with apparently the same events, even though they would be separated by decades, and in fact, in- volve different personalities. Yet in the panoramic sweep of the country from Reagan to...

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