John L. Styan

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John L. Styan (1923-2002) was a world-renowned academic, theorist and historian.

He also published as J.L. Styan.


Born in England, he was involved in World War II, then read literature at Cambridge University, before becoming a lecturer in the post-war adult training programme in England. The appearance of his innovative and influential books The Elements of Drama, The Dark Comedy and The Dramatic Experience made him a sought after lecturer and led to teaching positions in the USA, first at the Universities of Michigan and Pittsburgh and later at Northwesten University in Illinois. On retirement he and his wife Connie returned to England, to continue his work with the Globe and to write. Besides the books mentioned, he has written extensively on Shakespeare (e.g. Shakespeare in Performance, The Shakespeare Revolution), Chekhov (e.g. Chekhov in Performance), and works on the history of modern drama (notably the fine series Modern Drama in Theory in Theory and Practice). These works have all had a major influence on the teaching of drama and theatre internationally and have been standard works of reference in South Africa over more than four decades.

An avid Shakespearean scholar and an active member of the board of the Globe Theatre in London.

His role in South African theatre, film, media and performance

Besides the widespread use of his books at South African institutions, his role as external examiner for South African theses, and his mentorship role for Temple Hauptfleisch and the Centre for South African Theatre Research, he also had a more direct influence on research activities when he visited South Africa for the first time in 198* as a guest of the Centre for South African Theatre Research at the HSRC, when he was the keynote speaker and a participant in the founding of the Shakespeare Society of South Africa. From their inception till his death in 2002 he was a board member of both Shakespeare in Southern Africa and the South African Theatre Journal.


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