"To save the theater, the theater must be destroyed, the actors and actresses must all die of the plague. They poison the air, they make art impossible," the legendary Italian actor Eleanora Duse (1858-1924) once proclaimed. Ms. Duse is widely credited for bringing a more understated, realistic acting style to the stage in comparison to many of her contemporaries (e.g., Sarah Bernhardt), but -- if the above outburst is anything to go by -- the rules that governed the actor's comportment onstage did not necessarily apply off it. At any rate, Ms. Duse thought that the conventional spectacle-obsessed theater of her day had lost its sincerity and freshness. So she called for a radical change: "We should return to the Greeks, play in the open air; the drama dies of stalls and boxes and evening dress, and people who come to... More >>>