Living Theatre: Past and Present Combine | WGLT

Living Theatre: Past and Present Combine

Aug 3, 2017

Theater scholar and former ISU administrator Al Goldfarb says new theater developments in recent years include discoveries of a coat of arms for Shakespeare and archeological evidence that sheds light on the Henry plays.
Credit Al Goldfarb / Courtesy

Former Illinois State University provost and retired Western Illinois University President Al Goldfarb is not slowing down in retirement. Goldfarb has just published a new edition of his book on the history of the theater, called "Living Theatre."

Goldfarb said historical moments influence theater productions, such as the plays and shows that came out of the Great Depression. But it can be difficult for people to predict how during any given moment. And he said it's generally not possible to figure out if any particular time is such a moment when you are in it.

"Theater has always been a reflection of its society. It has always picked up on the issues of society, and I don't see why now will be any different. Historians will decide what was really important in 2017."

Goldfarb said each chapter in the book depicts “past and present,” showing which moments in history are leaving lasting impressions on stage.  

Goldfarb said the key to avoiding cultural appropriation in theater is to understand and respect the cultures one is interpreting. Goldfarb said he wants people to think critically about appropriation.

"Those are very difficult issues. Those debates remain unresolved," said Goldfarb.

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