by Dr Hugh Denard
School of Theatre Studies
University of Warwick
Coventry, CV4 7AL
This issue is dedicated to discussion of Tantalus, John Barton's cycle of ten plays about the Trojan War, and to the production based on that cycle, produced by Michael Kustow and directed by Peter and Edward Hall.
Tantalus has produced a great deal of animated, at times heated, debate (to which I will not add here). The papers included in Volume 5 Issue 2 represent a good cross-section of those views. The Web allows us the luxury of creating an open-ended publication, and contributions representing yet more perspectives will continue to be added to the issue long after this initial publication date. We open with two articles written for this issue, by Lorna Hardwick and Michael Walton, and with Marianne McDonald's article, first published in Arion and reproduced here by kind permission of Arion Editor, Herb Golder.
Following these articles are images of the production taken from photographs by Manuel Harlan and reproduced here by permission of the Royal Shakespeare Company. While this issue has been in preparation, Oberon Books kindly allowed us to display an image taken from the front cover of Tantalus showing a scene from the Hall/Hall production. This image is again reproduced here.
The issue then contains papers deriving from two symposia on Tantalus, one in Denver and one in London. Firstly, by kind permission of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, we have live links to papers given at the DCPA Tantalus Symposium on October 2000. Donald R. Seawell, founder and Chairman of the DCPA was the backer of the original production of Tantalus. I am grateful to the DCPA for establishing this collaboration with us, and particularly to Anita Edwards for forging this link with us.
On 18 May 2001, to coincide with the last performance of Tantalus at the Barbican Centre, Judith Herrin hosted a one-day Symposium on Tantalus at King's College London. It was this symposium that sparked off the idea for the present issue, and led to the second group of papers represented here. Professor Herrin kindly agreed to arrange for the Symposium to be recorded. Edited transcripts form the basis of some of the papers published here; others are based on the contributors' own scripts. Thanks are due to Professor Herrin for her Editorial to this section of the issue, and I am particularly grateful to John Barton and Michael Kustow for agreeing to allow their contributions to the KCL Symposium to be published here, and for preparing the transcript for publication.
The final part of this issue consists of reviews received while the present issue was in preparation. Reviews are always published as links from the Listings area as soon they have been received in their final form. While many of these reviews have been available online for some time, it seems useful also to highlight new reviews in this way.
In the last issue, I set out my vision for the future of Didaskalia:
Didaskalia will offer interactive 'spaces' in which readers can meet, hold discussions, contribute reviews, and submit work for review. Through a freshly-defined, high calibre, academic journal, it will invite into a further shared space scholars from diverse disciplines: Classics, Theatre Studies, Modern Languages, Philosophy, Linguistics, Translation Studies, Cultural and Critical Theory, Sociology, Psychology . . . It will host a continuously updated bulletin of forthcoming productions and events, and archive information about past such events."
Much has been achieved since then. We have now introduced online discussion boards The Agora to enable interactions between students, teachers, researchers and practitioners. Starting with targeted use by invited conferences and teachers (although already open to all) we hope that The Agora will quickly fill up with the bustle of those eager to get down to the business of exchanging questions, ideas, and resources free from restrictions of time and space.
The Agora reflects our belief that these electronically-enabled interactions have enormous potential to generate new degrees and kinds of synergy within this area. It will fulfil its potential only as the various 'communities' choose to meet there and, though their interactions, to shape it according to their own needs and desires. Please do bring the Agora to the attention of others who might benefit from it, and feel free to suggest imaginative ways in which it might be used.
We have also installed a search facility which makes the site much more flexible for users. There are also forms online that enable readers to send reviews and listings directly to us; as a result, the Listings area has burgeoned in the past year and we expect this to continue as the site develops.
These developments have required great mobilisation of effort and resources. I am deeply indebted to Adam Peck our indefatigable Web Editor, to Cat Fergusson our Web Developer, and to the University of Warwick for funding this phase of our development. Sincere thanks are due too to Toph Marshall Associate Editor and Reviews Editor, and to Amy Cohen APA-Didaskalia Listings Editor, for their labours and companionship from afar.
Much of the year has been spent in trying to create a secure future for Didaskalia by providing an infrastructure for the very considerable burden of administration and web work needed to keep us afloat. In my last Editorial, I reported that we were "actively pursuing means of generating income both from grant bodies and from commercial sources." Didaskalia has indeed been the subject of, or incorporated into, numerous grant applications-the outcomes of some of which are still pending-and discussions are ongoing with potential partners.
Whatever may be the eventual outcome of these initiatives, I am profoundly grateful for the goodwill, energy and imagination of those who have offered advice, moral support or actual resources. The challenges and opportunities that face us are exciting. It is clear now that many share our conviction that Didaskalia has a distinctive and important role to play in the advancement of education, scholarship and performance in this area. We look forward to taking our mission forward with their encouragement and help.
University of Warwick, 24 March 2002.