Education: Temple University, M.F.A., 1975. Studied acting with Stella Adler, Uta Hagen, Mira Rostova, John Barton, and Patrick Tucker.
American Globe Theatre, New York, NY, founding member, producing artistic director, and workshop teacher, 1988—; Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ, professor. Has worked as principal director and teacher at Riverside Shakespeare Company; director of Another World, National Broadcasting Company (NBC); and director of productions at Asolo Theater, American Stage Festival, Long Island University, University of Colorado, and Bradley University. Creator of "Playing Shakespeare Series" workshops held at Sedona Shakespeare Festival, Columbia University Teachers College, Montclair State University, Rutgers University, Pennsylvania State University, University of Colorado, University of Wyoming, Bradley University, Long Island University, Oklahoma State University, and Florida State University. Teacher of theatre arts in secondary schools and youth programs, including Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, Happiness Is Camping, and Children of Hope center for homeless youth.
William Danforth Leadership Award from American Youth Foundation; Iben Lectureship for Shakespeare, Bradley University; Alfred Koko Kovner Leadership Award from Temple University.
Will Power: How to Act Shakespeare in 21 Days, Applause Theatre & Cinema Books (New York, NY), 2006.
John Basil is a founder and producing artistic director of the American Globe Theatre, an off-off-Broadway company that stages Shakespearean plays and other dramatic works. Basil has personally directed more than forty productions, from William Shakespeare's classics such as King Lear and Othello to light comedies such as Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs. Basil is perhaps best known for his "Playing Shakespeare" workshops that teach actors and directors a series of strategies they can employ to communicate Shakespeare's works effectively. These workshops form the inspiration for Will Power: How to Act Shakespeare in 21 Days, a four-part approach to mastery of Shakespeare's demanding dramas.
Basil began his career as an actor, but he moved into directing after attending a lecture by John Barton of England's Royal Shakespeare Company. Immersing himself in Shakespeare, Basil studied under Barton and other Shakespeare specialists in London. In 1988 Basil cofounded the American Globe Theatre, taking the name of the legendary theatre, The Globe, where many of Shakespeare's plays were first staged. An important aspect of the American Globe Theatre project is its workshop opportunities, developed by Basil using method acting and classic direction techniques. Basil has led his workshops through the theatre itself but has also taken them to colleges and even to secondary schools and camps for children with special needs. Eventually Basil crystallized his techniques into Will Power, a book that can be understood and used by professional and amateur theatre groups, or even in high school drama classes.
Shakespeare wrote his plays more than 400 years ago, using mannerisms, language patterns, and vocabulary that would be readily understandable to his audiences. The vast gap in time poses problems for actors and actresses who want to bring Shakespearean characters to life without altering the playwright's texts. One of Basil's aims in Will Power is to teach performers how to take cues from Shakespeare's punctuation and from the physicality of theatre in Elizabethan times. Will Power is divided into four phases. Every phase addresses and resolves a different issue facing modern actors and directors who wish to stage Shakespeare's work, from parsing the difficult language to creating emotional worlds for each character that move beyond the boundaries of the play. A California Bookwatch contributor noted, "Any … Shakespearean drama group must have this," from high schools to aspiring professionals. Throughout the book, wrote M.C. Duhig in Library Journal, Basil is "reassuring and enthusiastic." Duhig felt that Will Power provides "an outstanding addition to a crowded field."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
California Bookwatch, December, 2006, review of Will Power: How to Act Shakespeare in 21 Days.
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, June, 2007, K.J. Wetmore, review of Will Power, p. 1761.
Library Journal, September 15, 2006, M.C. Duhig, review of Will Power, p. 61.
Reference & Research Book News, February, 2007, review of Will Power.
American Globe Theatre Web site,http://www.americanglobe.org/ (February 7, 2008), author biography.
Imprint Agency Web site,http://www.imprintagency.com/ (February 7, 2008), author biography.
John Basil Home Page,http://johnbasil.com (February 7, 2008).