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Letters to the Editor

Plus a few corrections.

Newspeak Shakespeare

John Glore’s review of University Press of America’s Contemporary Shakespeare Series, edited by A.L. Rowse (July/Aug. ’84), was one of the finest examples of ivory tower elitism that I have seen in years. Only someone called a “literary manager” could possess the effrontery to write, “Perhaps Shakespeare’s plays are no longer taught with frequency in high schools, but that is probably for the best, since standards in secondary education have declined to the point that few young students are prepared to appreciate Shakespeare on even the most rudimentary level.” His equally insensitive swipe at the “modern English-speaking masses” speaks volumes about Mr. Glore’s contempt for anyone unfortunate enough not to be a “literary manager.”

A.L. Rowse, as Barbara Tuchman recently pointed out, is one of this century’s finest historians. Richard Burton, among many others, has hailed his efforts to bring Shakespeare to a wider audience. I believe he deserves better than to be maligned as “pandering” by a feckless reviewer.

James E. Lyons
Vice president and managing editor
University Press of America


As Gilbert Parker and Peter Franklin point out in “A Balance of Interests” (June ’84), the theatre community at large must find a way to balance the interests of playwrights, nonprofit theatre companies and commercial producers. But there seems to be an undercurrent of opinion that the nonprofit and the commercial theatre are by nature utterly foreign to each other—or at least in an ideal world they ought to be.

The legal term “nonprofit” does not in fact mean, nor was it ever intended to mean, the avoidance of profit-making activities—it simply means that profits that do accrue are to be used exclusively to further the activities for which the nonprofit corporation has received its charter. For all intents and purposes, the nonprofit theatre has become the arena of research and development for the theatre at large. The nonprofit company’s financial participation in the future of a property is based upon the fact that those potential earned incomes are necessary to further the company’s goals of finding and developing other plays in the future.

The commercial transfer of a dramatic work is really nothing more than pumping capital into a selected property in order to enhance and promote that property to a degree whereby it has a chance of surviving in an open-ended run. There the play receives a great deal of public attention, and if successful becomes a living part of our culture in a way that no amount of critical esteem, awards or academic praise can establish. This is a strength that comes out of the interaction of nonprofit and commercial theatre in America.

John Nassivera
Producing director
Dorset Theatre Festival
Dorset, Vt.

O’Neill Centennial

Reading the O’Neill tribute (July/Aug. ’84) was both a pleasure and an inspiration for us. It’s good to know that others share such love and respect for his artistry. As we move toward a residency devoted to his plays in his 1988 centennial, pieces such as this solidify our admiration for his expression of the human spirit.

Lucia Colombi, artistic director
The Ensemble Theatre
Cleveland Heights, Ohio


In the June “Stages” column of American Theatre, the direction of Three More Sleepless Nights at the One Act Theatre Company of San Francisco was attributed to Richard Seyd. The production was actually directed by Susan Marsden.

Omitted from the list of those serving continuing terms on TCG’s ’84-85 board of directors were Barbara Rosoff, artistic director of Maine’s Portland Stage Company; Donald Schoenbaum, managing director of the Guthrie Theater; and composer Stanley Silverman.

American Theatre welcomes comments from its readers. Write to the Editor, care of Theatre Communications Group, 355 Lexington Ave., New York, NY 10017.

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