Now, for the first time on audio cassette, Blackstone presents seven great plays in one volume, illustrating the development of European drama from ancient times to the threshold of the modern theater. A superb repertory company has been assembled for these recordings, joined by distinguished guest artists F. Murray Abraham, John Glover, Rosemary Harris, Lois Nettleton, Barry Morse, Fritz Weaver—all under the direction of veteran producer Yuri Rasovsky, who has won both the Audie Award for book production and the George Foster Peabody Award for broadcasting.
These are not mere readings. Rather, they are full performances using all the resources of audio to full advantage. Just as stage plays are "opened up" when adapted to film, so these selections create greater intimacy. "Staginess" is avoided, lively theatrics enhanced, while the substance of the works remains intact. For instance, in Arms and the Man, audio makes possible the judicious integration of the author's witty scene settings, written for the published version of the play, with the play itself. This is the play that established Shaw's reputation as one of the greatest wits of the London drama scene.
Music accounts for another noteworthy aspect of these productions. The Imaginary Invalid employs the score that Marc-Antoine Charpentier composed for Molière's own premiere. It is conducted by Steven Ovitsky, artistic director of the Milwaukee Symphony.
The Tempest, composed by Shakespeare as a multisensory theater experience, features music on Elizabethan instruments still extant from Shakespeare's own production, resulting in lyrical textual passages, overflowing with exotic images, tantalizing sounds, and a palpable lushness.
To ensure fidelity to the themes, atmosphere, and tone of the texts, three noted scholars from Tufts University served as advisors: Professors Peter Arnott, Sylvan Barnet, and Laurence Senelick.
All seven plays were taped with a repertory company in New York during the spring of 1985 and finished in Chicago.
Euripides - Medea
Shakespeare - The Tempest
Molière - The Imaginary Invalid
Dumas - Camille
Ibsen - An Enemy of the People
Shaw - Arms and the Man
Chekhov - Uncle Vanya *