Harry Watkins, Nineteenth Century Actor, Brought Back to Life

by Charles Watkinson October 10, 2018

On October 10, 1850, Harry Watkins was relaxing from his busy life as an actor, playwright, and stage manager: “Fine day—Walking A.M & P.M. refused an offer to go to Boston—If I sacrifice many more engagements for the sake of remaining in N.Y. I shall find myself thrown out of all.—7 P.M. went to a book auction to purchase a book marked on the catalogue but was so tired out I fell asleep and woke just in time to hear it was gone—My interest in the auction being over I concluded it would be as well to finish my nap at home.” […]

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Amy Cook (“Building Character”) on the Oscars

by Kathryn Beaton March 1, 2018

Our author Amy Cook, an Associate Professor of English and Theatre Arts at Stony Brook University, recently answered some questions about her new book, Building Character: The Art and Science of Casting.   Films play a prominent role in your book’s examination of casting choices. When you look over the list of nominees for this year’s Academy Awards in acting, what casting choices stand out as exceptional? Some of these actors originated the roles they are in: there was no other Lady Bird or Elisa Esposito before Saoirse Ronan and Sally Hawkins were cast in those roles. Other actors are […]

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Tzachi Zamir on His Philosophy of Acting

by Phillip Witteveen February 4, 2015

Tzachi Zamir is a professor of philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. After a Ph.D. of pondering the nature of things, his accidental experiences with amateur acting led him to ponder the nature of performance. Zamir is the author of the first systematic philosophy of theater, Acts. This is not the first time he has tackled less-traditional philosophy, actually, having written about subjects from Shakespeare to vegetarianism to animal rights. Nowadays, though, in the interstices between professional philosophizing, he’s been taking classes, and working in rehearsal for a production of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” The Israeli newspaper […]

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Theater scholar Herb Blau passes away

by Shaun Manning May 8, 2013

The University of Michigan Press mourns the passing of theater scholar, theoretician and director Herbert Blau (1926-2013). Blau was known as the leading American interpreter of the works of Samuel Beckett and was instrumental in introducing works of the European avant-garde to American audiences. Blau co-founded The Actor’s Workshop in San Francisco from 1952 to 1965; co-directed the Repertory Theater of Lincoln Center in New York (1965-68), and was founding provost and dean of the theater program at California Institute for the Arts and founder of the experimental group KRAKEN (1968-81). He served on the faculty at San Francisco State […]

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Guest blog: Press author Daniel Stein on Armstrong, autobiographics, and a Disney alligator

by Emily May 22, 2012

Daniel Stein, author of Music Is My Life: Louis Armstrong, Autobiography, and American Jazz, guest blogs about a little known aspect of Louis Armstrong’s long career: his autobiographical writings and their lasting impact on American culture. The millions of people who went to the movie theaters to watch Disney’s animated film The Princess and the Frog (dir. Ron Clemens and John Musker, 2009) encountered a singing and trumpeting alligator named Louis. Set in a mythologized New Orleans of the 1920s, the movie cooks up a gumbo of popular ingredients ranging from the city’s famous street parades and Mississippi entertainment ships […]

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