CM February 2, 
1996. Vol. 2, Number 16

image William Hutt: Masks and Faces.

Edited by Keith Garebian.
Oakville, ON: Mosaic Press, 1995. 190pp, paper, $16.95.
ISBN 0-88962-583-2.

Subject Headings:
Hutt, William.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.
Review by Pat Bolger.


This book is a tribute to William Hutt: it takes advantage of his seventy-fifth birthday to keep faith with his past, present, and future. There has been only one other book on Hutt -- my own biography, a theatre portrait that ended with achievements till 1988. So, there is ample need for an extension, for catching up with Hutt who could no more desert the theatre than the sun lose its place in the solar system. The pieces in this book are offered, therefore, as forms of further biography, with the implicit realization that the totality of William Hutt, the private man and the public performer, is still too great to be encompassed by individual accounts, however perceptive they might be.

This passage from the introduction to Masks and Faces establishes Garebian's position as Hutt's biographer, friend, and unabashed fan -- the ideal person to organize this festschrift for the actor.

The tributes, which come from other actors and directors, as well as a designer, a stage manager, and a photographer, are organized under three broad headings: the actor, the director, and the man. This structure eliminates the repetition that frequently haunts this kind of collection.

Most of the contributors have offered short reminiscences, like Timothy Findlay's "One of My Best Friends," an affectionate recollection of their first meeting and their friendship over the last forty-five years. Others delve more thoroughly into the technical side of things. In "Instinctive Responses," Christopher Newton analyzes Hutt's listening "-- the silence that is alive and always curiously dangerous." Mervyn Blake's "Three Lears" and Philip Silver's "William Hutt and The Merry Wives of Windsor" would be especially useful to theatre arts students -- Silver gives a wonderfully clear picture of what a theatre designer actually does.

Much the longest piece here is Garebian's own "Craft Slices," an examination of Hutt's "singular essence as an actor . . . The invisibility of his talent and personality." Many readers will find this very difficult reading, as Garebian slides occasionally into "critic-speak":

The production revealed how the rigidity and haughtiness of an Apollonian idealism in morality, religion, and politics could break apart from the turbulent stirrings of a Dionysian force rooted in the libidinal subconscious.

The photo section is introduced by theatre photographer Robert C. Ragsdale, and it is exceptional: thirty pages of carefully selected photographs, many full-page, and all beautifully reproduced. The photo archives at Stratford, the Shaw, and the Grand Theatre have yielded up treasures, including the front cover's colour portrait of Hutt in The Imaginary Invalid.

Garebian has also provided a little information on each contributor, an index, a chronology, and a selection of excerpts from recent reviews.

Recommended for schools with active theatre programs.

Pat Bolger is a retired Teacher/Librarian living in Renfrew, Ontario.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to

Copyright © 1996 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364

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