Michael Langham

Authored by: Kevin Ewert

The Routledge Companion to Directors’ Shakespeare

Print publication date:  April  2010
Online publication date:  June  2009

Print ISBN: 9780415400442
eBook ISBN: 9780203932520
Adobe ISBN: 9781134146482

10.4324/9780203932520.ch13

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Abstract

Michael Langham’s long career encompasses work in Europe, Australia, the USA and Canada. He ran repertory theatres in the UK after the Second World War, was Artistic Director at the Stratford Festival in Ontario from 1956 to 1967 and at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis from 1971 to 1977 and headed the drama division at Juilliard between 1979 and 1992. He has directed in New York and at regional theatres across the USA and Canada. Through all this work, he has developed a distinctive approach to the staging of Shakespeare based around several key factors: exploiting the particular geography of the thrust stage; maintaining a rigorous commitment to making the text come alive; and creating narrative clarity and strikingly theatrical moments through carefully choreographed movement. For Richard Monette, in early years an actor and later Artistic Director at Stratford, Ontario, Langham’s work remains the model of how to stage Shakespeare:

The most important contribution Michael Langham made was discovering how to use the thrust stage, because, they say, even [Tony] Guthrie hadn’t solved it. It was Michael who worked on the diagonals and whose work was very choreographic. He was able to bring a dynamism to the stage, invent it in fact, invent how to use that stage. As a director, I have never forgotten those lessons and I adhere to his principals of blocking.

(Interview 2006)

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