Joan Littlewood

Authored by: Lesley Wade Soule

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.ch15

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Abstract

Though she was the first woman to direct his plays in Britain, Joan Littlewood was not primarily a director of Shakespeare. She staged only six of his plays, mainly in the 1950s, along with seven by Shakespeare’s contemporaries, some of whom she regarded nearly as highly as she did the Bard. (In fact, she preferred Ben Jonson’s comedies to Shakespeare’s.) Littlewood treated Shakespeare with a complete lack of deference, having little patience with the notion of ‘great dramatists’:

I say to hell with geniuses in the theatre. Let’s have the authors by all means, […] but let’s get them together with their equals, the actors, with all their wit and stupidity and insight. And this clash, this collaboration, this anti-collaboration will create an explosion more important than any bomb.

(Tynan 1967: 316–17)

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