New Theatre Quarterly



Finite Resources, Infinite Dedication: Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory


George  Brandt 

Abstract

Does the prevailing approach to performing Shakespeare, which increasingly reflects nothing more than directorial quirks consuming more cash than creative energy, threaten to cast us adrift from the plays? Those who think so have been strengthened in their belief by a surprisingly inexpensive venture operating in Bristol since the year 2000, under the title ‘Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory’. This company have been working in an industrial setting with a minimal production and publicity budget but intense dedication to close textual reading, and have been quick to attract national attention with their pared-down presentations. Professor Emeritus George Brandt, who describes the origins and aims of this group, has been observing the local theatrical scene since 1951, when he joined the Drama Department of the University of Bristol. In his 35 years on its staff, during which he served as its Head of Department over a number of years, he shaped much of its policy, creating among other things the first practical postgraduate film course at a British university. George Brandt edited British Television Drama (1981) and British Television Drama in the 1980s (1993) for Cambridge University Press. His German and Dutch Theatre, 1600–1848 (1993), with Professor Hogendoorn, was part of the CUP series ‘Theatre in Europe’. His Modern Theories of Drama was published by Oxford University Press in 1998. He is currently a Senior Research Fellow of the University of Bristol.