Though Shakespeare has been performed in the USA using the same scripts as in Britain, and even some British actors, the interpretations and staging details often differ significantly. For example, the overthrow of Julius Caesar was seen in a highly positive light, as prefiguring the American Revolution against the British monarchy. American acting and staging often became bolder and more flamboyant than the British, but since the arrival of Method acting it has now moved excessively in the opposite direction – towards introverted filmic styles. While American city theatres initially resembled English ones, increasingly twentieth century Shakespearean repertory theatres were characterized by open-air summer seasons, as in the New York Public Theatre in Central Park, with markedly inventive configurations and acting styles, such as all female acting groups, Western or even modern Los Angeles settings, etc. (However, this model has now become more frequent in Britain, from the creation of the open-air theatre in Regent’s Park onwards.) The initial presentation here shows the character of such modern American groups by tracing s series of productions by the California Shakespeare Theatre, at the Bruns Theatre in the hills between Berkeley and Orinda, which is typical of many open-air theatres in the American West. Terry Teachout called it "one of the most beautiful outdoor performing spaces in America" (Wall St. Journal, 7/23/10). Gene Angell designed this polygonal theatre with a ground plan shaped like the original Globe "footprint." A history of CST is attached to the album's first image, listing all productions. Production shots are courtesy of Jay Yamada and the CST. The Shakespeare Bulletin reviewed the CST Much Ado (22.1, 2004, 97-9), and Julius Caesar (21.3, 2003, 106-8), with casts and crews. Later there are shots of the 2008 CST Pericles and the 2007 Richard III, etc. Then come 2002 CST Macbeth and A Midsummer Night's Dream. This focus on a single representative modern American Shakespeare festival is followed by images from a score of other typical North American theatres active after 1945. A listing of US and Canadian Shakespeare Festivals and Companies also appears in Electronic Shakespeare: Resources for Researchers. The number of such groups in the USA far exceeds that of comparable ones in Britain: Play Shakespeare cites 364 in the U.S.A. with 94 in California alone.
Except where otherwise specified, all written commentary is © 2016, Hugh Macrae Richmond