Finite Resources, Infinite Dedication: Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory
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
Drama (1981) and British
1980s (1993) for Cambridge University Press. His German
1600–1848 (1993), with Professor Hogendoorn, was part of the CUP series ‘Theatre in Europe’. His Modern
Drama was published by Oxford University Press in 1998. He is currently a Senior Research Fellow of the University of Bristol.