Segments in this Video

Mission of the American Repertory Theater (04:54)


The mission of the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.), the only not-for-profit theater in the country that maintains a resident acting company and operates in association with a major university, is to reflect the political climate and teach people to think.

Andrei Serban: A.R.T. Director (02:44)

Andrei Serban, a revolutionary interpreter of Shakespeare, uses his intuition during rehearsal and later analyzes his direction. He explodes all conventional wisdom about play interpretation in his production of "Pericles."

Serban's Directing Style at the A.R.T. (05:59)

An award-winning director, Serban becomes intensely involved with his productions. Actors trust him even if they have had volatile interactions. Serban believes performance is a circular process of sharing between director, actor, and audience.

Rehearsing "Pericles" (04:24)

Serban, a classical director in a modern context, fulfills one of A.R.T.'s primary missions of revisiting classical text for contemporary audiences. His attention to language results in state images that challenge the audience's imagination.

Theater, Politics, and Religion (05:31)

Theater in Boston has always faced conflict, beginning with Harvard's former president, Rev. Increase Mather, who opposed theater. As always, theater's eroticism and controversial topics cause it to be an act of resistance worldwide.

The A.R.T. and Harvard (04:53)

According to Robert Burstein, A.R.T.'s founding director, theater must be associated with a great university in order to survive. Theater director Peter Sellars believes theater exists for its generation and that actors learn from their contemporaries.

Cultivating the Arts at Harvard (04:22)

Although Harvard does not offer degrees in art, its graduates have engaged in the arts for three centuries. Harvard continues to help the arts, but funding nationwide is limited since the arts enrich people and culture in many ways but in monetary terms.

American Repertory Theater (04:22)

The A.R.T.'s plays have engaged audiences in social and political issues that have resonated throughout the theater world, bringing it acclaim and awards, including a Pulitzer in 1983 and a Tony in 1986.

Artists Behind the Scenes: Design Director and Carpenters (05:31)

A.R.T.'s design director considers the whole space when executing a set for Serban, who prefers scenes with suggestive, not realistic, elements. The carpenters for "Pericles" have only five weeks to build a set which needs to be flexible for traveling.

Artists Behind the Scenes: Designers and Costumers (04:30)

Designers first use models and sketches for sets as they work on the "Pericles" production. The costumers, or drapers, know that Serban's productions are organic, that everything grows and changes according to the rehearsal process.

Acting in the Theater (07:55)

Although actors, whose job is to be a storyteller, are paid very little, their passion for theater keeps them on stage. While film relies on visuals, theater is a living organism that relies on words and invites the audience to become a part of the artistic process.

Future of Theater in America (02:20)

Funding for theater in America remains behind other developed nations. America's marketplace mentality places less importance on theater, even though art is vital for a culture and is a mark of all great democracies.

Theater in New York City vs. Repertory Theater (02:51)

Commercialism has become the core of theater in New York City. A director's vision is restricted by the producer's need to fill the seats. Thus, the economics of theater has changed Broadway but not repertory theaters, which enjoy more freedom.

Need for Theater in America (03:07)

Theater, especially those like the A.R.T., speaks best for itself. Theater provokes thought and passion, two basic elements that humans need, and brings different perspectives and impressions for each audience member.

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Chaos and Order: Making American Theater

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The American Repertory Theater is one of the most respected and innovative dramatic institutions in the United States. Through the prism of the A.R.T., this program explores the organizational and creative challenges facing today’s theater community and describes the flexibility and resilience arts groups must have to survive in today’s cultural climate. F. Murray Abraham, Debra Winger, and numerous other renowned performers—along with groundbreaking directors Andrei Serban, Peter Sellars, and Robert Woodruff—join A.R.T. technicians and artisans in illuminating the precarious condition of American theater. Tony Award–winning actress Cherry Jones narrates. (68 minutes)

Length: 68 minutes

Item#: BVL35650

ISBN: 978-1-4213-4512-3

Copyright date: ©2005

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

“Highlights the relationship among theater, politics, and religion in the rise and development of this form of storytelling and entertainment.... An excellent introductory resource for all libraries.”—Library Journal


“Offers an excellent discussion of the practical aspects and economic challenges facing the contemporary theatre and provides a great deal of philosophical reflection on the purpose and value of art.... This video would be most useful those who already have an interest in theatre, but are at the beginning of their theatre studies; thus, the video is recommended primarily for high school libraries and libraries that are associated with undergraduate theatre programs.”—Educational Media Reviews Online

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Only available in USA and Canada.