THEATRE NOTEBOOK 1947-1967 by Jan Kott


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It is typical of our international age that the most innovating and circulating ideas concerning the staging of Shakespeare's plays come from the Polish scholar arid drama critic, Jan Kott. In Theatre Notebook, Kott makes a passing historical comment about this: ""Poland was, quite likely, the second or third country in Europe where Shakespeare was played outside of England. It is possible that he was played in Warsaw during his lifetime, around 1611."" The comment is indicative of Kott's sense of history and sense of culture, for though he is committed to change (""New playwrighting is more and more like the training of tigers, and like the handbook of metalanguage and metaphilosophy""), his is a cosmopolitan nature fully aware that avant game ideas are as much a reflection of the past as they are a vision of the future. Everywhere, then, his observations are thoroughly contemporary and finely erudite the Chinese opera, the Russian circus, Beckett, Eroticism, Moliere, Happenings, Marcel Marceau, Ionesco, Durrenmatt, Brecht, Sophocles--the remarks on all these diverse figures or styles are strikingly in keeping with the order and grace of classicism, as well as pointing out the relevant new trends and salutary departures in the world theatre today. Frank Kermode objected to much of the experimental tactics of Kott's Shakespeare Our Contemporary, still a controversial work, but the book continues to gain partisans. Theatre Notebook can only enhance and consolidate Kott's reputation, and deservedly so.

Pub Date: Sept. 6th, 1968
Publisher: Doubleday