Robert Tanitch reviews three books
THE ART DECO POSTER by William W Crouse (Thames & Hudson £28). The collection covers the 1920s and 1930s. Dynamic, streamlined and extremely sophisticated, these posters, graphically masterful in their promotional skills, have an immediate, eye-catching and knockout impact.
The collection is listed under a variety of headings: aviation, automobiles, commercial, leisure, fashion, entertainment, motor racing, food, beverage, tobacco and tourism. The brief text which accompanies each poster is sharp and to the point, sociologically, politically and economically.
The art work is lively, witty, stylish, crisp, and constantly arresting in its virtuosity. You can feel the power and the speed. As you might expect, Cassandre, with his iconic images of ocean liners and railways, dominates. There is so much to enjoy and so much to admire; and notably so from such favourites as Jean Carlu, elevating trademarks into art, Paul Colin, Charles Loupot and many others with their bold and exciting images. At £28 this bright wonderful book is a fantastic bargain.
SHAKESPEARE IN THE THEATRE: NICHOLAS HYTNER by Abigail Rokison-Woodall (Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare £17.99) Nicholas Hytner, former artistic director of the National Theatre, and highly successful in that role, is one of the major directors of our times. His repertoire is wide and he is much admired for his theatricality, intellectual clarity, emotional reality and his revelatory insights and revaluations.
Rokison-Woodall concentrates on Hytner’s productions of Shakespeare’s plays and records them in detail backed by observations from leading theatre critics. Hytner has always made Shakespeare relevant and accessible and is not afraid to rewrite and cut incomprehensible bits of the text. The book will be extremely useful for anybody studying, acting and directing Shakespeare and of immense value to future theatre historians.
ALL CHANGE PLEASE A Practical Guide to Achieving Gender Equality in Theatre by Lucy Kerbel (Nick Hern Books £9.99) Kerbel’s lecture, a springboard, not a manual, gives food for thought. We all need to keep tabs on choices we make artistically, commercially, ethically and socially. We need to challenge biases (conscious and unconscious) in how organisations are run administratively, technically, creatively and financially.
We need to expand our taste. We need more modern scripts where women drive the narrative. We need to get more women into artistic-director positions and create more roles for women on and off stage. We all need more self-awareness and self-monitoring if gender equality is to be achieved.