Theater Magazine. • Phyllis Hartnoll’s book on the history of theater has been translated into Russian

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At the end of June, Ad Marginem publishes A Brief History of Theater, written by English researcher and writer Phyllis Hartnoll. Translated into Russian by theater critic and translator Maria Zerchaninova.

The book by Phyllis Hartnoll, author of the first theatrical encyclopedias in English, is considered a classic review of the history of the performing arts from antiquity to the present day.

“This is, indeed, a brief run through the history of European and American theater from antiquity to the 2010s,” says Maria Zerchaninova on her Facebook page. – But the brevity is redeemed by a large number of carefully commented by the author illustrations, cross-references and detailed footnotes. The text of the book and the pictures here are closely interrelated. The advantage of this monograph over collective textbooks on the history of theater is that its author has favorite cross-cutting themes – the design of theater buildings and scenery, as well as the journey of masks from ancient Rome to comedy del arte and beyond through time and space. For example, Hartnoll traces the evolution of the portal arch or the painted backs of Serlio from the time of their origin to the present day or shows the rebirth of Italian masks in France and England, etc. Hartnoll tells the story not just easily and fascinatingly, but also quite subjectively. She is no stranger to some Anglocentrism and restrained English humor: “In contrast to the Romantics, who turned everyday events into a great tragedy, Scribe practiced reducing great historical events to the level of salon gossip,” Hartnoll writes. She allows herself to scold Antonen Artaud with Victorian stubbornness for “awakening an animal in a man” or the English “angry” for obscene language. The book is funny, a bit old-fashioned (first edition in 1968), but for those who are starting the history of theater for the first time, it will tell – and most importantly show! – its coherent and interesting. And the rich reference material and bibliography will allow to deepen knowledge then ».

A fragment of the book.  Photo provided by the translator.

It is important to add that Phyllis Hartnoll died in 1997, and so the last chapter of the book – about modern European and American theater – was written by Enoch Breiter, a professor at the University of Michigan.

The book is expected to be published on June 27-29. Dates are preliminary and can be changed. A pre-order of “A Brief History of the Theater” is already available on the site.

Maria Zerchaninova – theater critic, theater critic, member of the Association of Theater Critics. Translator of Roland Bart’s book “Works on Theater”.

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