Benedetti, Jean 1930-
BENEDETTI, Jean 1930-
(Jean Norman Benedetti)
PERSONAL: Born December 30, 1930, in London, England. Education: Graduated from the Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Taylor & Francis Group, Ltd., 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxford OX14 4RN, England.
CAREER: Actor, director, and writer. Toured with the British Arts Council in Peer Gynt and The Winter's Tale, 1959; performed in and directed regional theater, 1960–62; performed on and directed radio and television programs, 1962–64; appeared in and directed Beyond the Fringe, Mayfair Theatre, London, England, 1964–65; performed in and directed film and television productions, 1965–72; Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama, London, England, principal, 1970–87, honorary fellow, 1991. Adviser on European repertoire to Kenneth Tynan; National Theatre, London, England, literary manager.
Conference of Drama Schools, member of executive committee, 1971–87; National Academic Awards, member of Performing Arts Sub-Committee of the Council, 1977–87; University of London Schools Examinations Board, member of Dance Advisory Panel, 1984–87.
MEMBER: Theatre Education Committee of the International Theatre Institute (president; committee of UNESCO).
Georges Michel, A Sunday Walk, Methuen (London, England), 1968.
Edward II, A Respectable Wedding, Methuen (London, England), 1970.
Fernando Arrabal, "The Architect and the Emperor of Assyria, The Grand Ceremonial," Plays, Volume III, Calder & Boyars (London, England), 1971.
(And editor) The Moscow Art Theatre Letters, Routledge (New York, NY), 1991.
(And editor) Dear Writer, Dear Actress: The Love Letters of Olga Knipper and Anton Chekhov, Ecco Press (Hopewell, NJ), 1997.
Stanislavski: An Introduction, Theater Arts Books (New York, NY), 1982, new edition, Routledge (New York, NY), 2004.
Stanislavski: A Biography, Routledge (New York, NY), 1989.
Stanislavski and the Actor, Routledge (New York, NY), 1998.
David Garrick and the Birth of Modern Theatre, Methuen (London, England), 2001.
Dramatist and/or translator of scripts, including The Good Shoemaker and the Poor Fish Peddler, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Television, 1965; File on Harry Jordan, Rediffusion, 1966; These Men Are Dangerous (trilogy), BBC Television, 1968; Lily, BBC Television, 1969; The Architect and the Emperor of Assyria, National Theatre, 1971; A Respectable Wedding, The Open Space, 1980; and A Bolt from the Blue (dramatized documentary), BBC Radio 2, 1987.
Also contributor to periodicals, including Acteur and New Theatre Quarterly; contributor to books, including New Oxford Companion to the Theatre, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1983.
SIDELIGHTS: British actor, director, and theater expert Jean Benedetti has had a long and fruitful career since he toured with the British Arts Council productions of Peer Gynt and The Winter's Tale in 1959. He has also helped bring plays to both the radio and television arms of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Benedetti has shared his expertise with students as well, teaching at the Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama, and he has penned several books. In the literary arena, he is primarily known for his works on famed Russian actor, director, and writer Konstantin Stanislavski, who developed a theory and system of acting that is still used today, and British theater figure David Garrick.
In Benedetti's 1989 volume, Stanislavski: A Biography, his subject's life is explored from its beginnings in a bourgeois factory-owning family. Benedetti relates his discovery of amateur theatricals, his becoming a professional actor, and the survival of his famed Moscow Art Theatre's through the various stages of the Russian Revolution. Stanislavski, who some reviewers refer to under the spelling Stanislavsky, developed a system that was used in the United States by teachers such as Lee Strasberg and Stella Adler. According to Ellendea Proffer in the New York Times Book Review, Benedetti's book "convey[s] effectively Stanislavsky's passion for the theater." Of Benedetti's exposition on Stanislavski's acting method, Proffer observed "an interesting section in the book" detailing some misunderstandings, such as "when Strasberg learned the system at a certain moment of Stanislavsky's development but refused to believe in the ways the master had changed it over the years." Reviewer Sean French in the New Statesman and Society praised Benedetti's Stanislavski as "a fascinating account of an extraordinary life." Some critics protested Benedetti's focus on the actor and director's plays rather than his personal life, but Lindsey Hughes in the Times Literary Supplement observed that "Stanislavsky's most intimate relationship was with the theatre itself."
The biography also devotes much attention to Stanislavski's relationship to his business partner, Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko, with whom he ran the Moscow Art Theatre. Benedetti explored this and other relationships among the company's principals in his book The Moscow Art Theatre Letters. A reviewer in Choice, S. Golub, noted that "Benedetti's brief introductions and commentaries punctuate and inform the correspondence." Anne Sharp in the Library Journal appreciated the way that "Benedetti crafts these dialogues into an absorbing documentary history."
Another work of letters, Dear Writer, Dear Actress: The Love Letters of Olga Knipper and Anton Chekhov, contains selected correspondence between the couple before their marriage. A reviewer for Kirkus Reviews found the book to provide "a moving and intimate epistolary record" of the pair's relationship.
Another leading theatrical figure is the subject of a biography by Benedetti: David Garrick. In David Garrick and the Birth of Modern Theatre, Benedetti explores the life, work, and influence of Garrick, a leading eighteenth-century figure in the development of modern theater and a celebrity in his own right. Garrick made a significant amount of money managing London's famous Drury Lane theater, but was better known for his acting, writing, and directing. Benedetti highlights Garrick's emphasis on a new acting style that was more natural than the stilted approach that was common at the time. In the Times Literary Supplement, Paula Byrne commented "Jean Benedetti provides a lively and accessible account of the 'revolution in acting' promoted … by Garrick." Overall, Jonathan Bate of the Sunday Telegraph found the biography deeply informative. Bate wrote, "This book is as good an introduction to the 18th-century theatre in general as it is to Garrick in particular."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, March, 1992, S. Golub, review of The Moscow Art Theatre Letters, p. 1091.
Economist, December 15, 2001, "King David; Theatre's history," review of David Garrick and the Birth of Modern Theatre.
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 1997, review of Dear Writer, Dear Actress: The Love Letters of Olga Knipper and Anton Chekhov.
Library Journal, November 15, 1991, Anne Sharp, review of The Moscow Art Theatre Letters, p. 84.
New Statesman and Society, January 6, 1989, Sean French, review of Stanislavski: A Biography, p. 39.
New York Times Book Review, March 5, 1989, Ellendea Proffer, review of Stanislavski, p. 27.
Sunday Times (London, England), Jonathan Bate, review of David Garrick and the Birth of Modern Theatre, p. 16.
Times Literary Supplement, November 25, 1988, Lindsey Hughes, review of Stanislavski, p. 1304; November 22, 2002, Paula Byrne, "David and Family: How Garrick Led a Revolution on the Eighteenth-century Stage," review of David Garrick and the Birth of Modern Theatre, pp. 3-4.
Methuen Web site, http://www.methuen.co.uk/ (March 19, 2003), summary of David Garrick and the Birth of Modern Theatre.