(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 2/21.)
Does anyone still read Jan Kott? For those unfamiliar with the name, Kott (1914–2001) was a Polish professor whose book Shakespeare Our Contemporary, published in English in 1964, had a profound impact on theatre. Reading it again today, I am stunned by how much of it has been absorbed into our theatrical culture. Although we live in an age of great Shakespearean scholarship, represented by figures such as James Shapiro, Jonathan Bate and Stephen Greenblatt, I can't think of anyone today who influences production in quite the same way as Kott.