Albery Finney and Dudley Moore

Albery Finney & Dudley Moore



Frank Langella & James Earl Jones

Frank Langella & James Earl Jones



Gelber, Rossen, Bruns

Gelber, Rossen, Bruns



Nancy Marchand

Nancy Marchand



Raitt, Bennett, McKechnie

Raitt, Bennett, McKechnie


Virginia Capers

Virginia Capers


Gene Raymond & Celeste Holm

Gene Raymond & Celeste Holm



Dick Latessa & Jenny O'Hara

Dick Latessa & Jenny O'Hara



Leonard Nimoy
Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy



Arnold Wesker & Ben

Arnold Wesker & Ben, 1974



Jame Earl Jones dancer

Other Productions Directed by Ben Shaktman

New Plays and Special Events


1959:

Magna Cum Laude, Syracuse University, Fulbright Fellowship in playwriting; Tufts Arena Theater: Directed The Lesson and The Chairs by Eugene Ionesco, with Frank Langella; and wrote and staged new play The Deep Red Plum. (Frank was a classmate of mine at Syracuse. We collaborated on workshop and other productions in the earliest part of our careers.]

1960-61: Europe:

My Fulbright play, Point in the Square, directed by Duncan Ross, was produced at the Bristol Old Vic with actors from the repertory company and its school. “Not since Robert Penn Warren’s All the Kings Men have we seen such a coruscating view of American politics.” The Times of London.

Royal Court Theater, London: Directed Songs for the Theatre --repertory of scenes from the Peking Opera, Shakespeare, Brecht, the American (political) musical comedy: Fiorello and The Pajama Game. Produced by George Devine who assembled the following company: Dudley Moore, composer and conductor, Jocelyn Hebert, scenery, Sophie of The Motleys, costumes. Featuring Georgia Brown, Zoe Caldwell, Allan Dobie, Albert Finney, Freda Jackson. The Peking Opera selection was from The Jade Princess in an original English translation by Arthur Waley. Professor Waley and I were next-door neighbors in Gordon Square, Bloomsbury. What a special opportunity—a gift—for him to allow our collaboration. “With Zoe Caldwell acting out and ‘singing’ the music which Dudley Moore wrote for her title role of the Jade Princess in Ben Shaktman’s unusual production, the authenticity of same can only be judged by an ancient Chinee.” The Times, London. (That’s what they wrote in 1960!)

Berliner Ensemble, East Berlin: On a Fulbright director’s grant to observe the operation and artistic process of the theater founded by Bertolt Brecht, who had died. His widow, Helene Weigel, was artistic director. She assigned me to observe and support rehearsals for Brecht’s The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui directed by Peter Palitsch with Ekehard Schall in title role. The production was about to resume performances in the repertory.

Paris, Theatre Nationale Populaire (TNP): co-directed, in French, Les Fusils de Senora Carrar, a one-act Brecht play. Bernhard Rothstein who I met while working at the Berliner Ensemble do-directed. These were the years when TNP founder and director, Jean Vilar, developed productions—including this one -- to tour to factories, workers clubs, schools and prisons.

1962-1975: New York and On The Road

Scenes from Othello, produced by American National Theatre & Academy (ANTA), workshop with James Earl Jones, Frank Langella and Kathleen Eric.

The Cave Dwellers, by William Saroyan, Lisner Auditorium, Washington, DC.

American Place Theater, New York: new play development project, produced by Wyn Handman, featuring Joseph Chaiken.

Six Characters in Search of An Author, by Luigi Pirandello, American Academy of Dramatic Arts graduation production in New York, produced by Worthington Miner. Included in the cast was Danny DeVito.

Three Sisters by Anton Chekov and Born Yesterday by Garson Kanin, in repertory, Syracuse University Summer Theater

The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, by Bertolt Brecht, in a new English translation by George Tabori, at the Village Gate, New York. Produced by Art D’Lugoff with Gabriel Dell cast as Arturo Ui.

Jame Earl Jones dancer

The Emperor Jones, by Eugene O’Neill produced by the Boston Arts Festival. James Earl Jones as Brutus Jones. Choreographed by Daniel Nagrin. Original music written and conducted by Dudley Moore. The dancers were choreographed to be plants, trees, rocks and the ghostly nightmares (the “haints”) of the Emperor. Dancers included Gus Solomons Jr., Richard Kuch, Richard Gaines, Kelvin Rotardier, Cal Thompson, Paula Kelly, Elizabeth Keen and…

The Charles Playhouse, Boston: see earlier section on this website.

Square in the Eye, by Jack Gelber, Theatre de Lys, New York. Produced by the Establishment Theatre Co. Scenery and costumes by William Roberts, lighting by Jules Fisher. With Phillip Bruns, Carole Rossen, Dixie Marquis, Gene Ruppert and….

Good Day, by Emanuel Peluso. Produced by Richard Barr, Clinton Wilder and Edward Albee. With Nancy Marchand and Frank Langella. Obie Awards for production, and acting. (“Obie” = off-Broadway).

Where the Heart Is, CBS Television, New York, daytime series/soap opera, produced by James McAllen.

The Best of Everything, ABC Television new daytime series/soap opera, directed the debut shows.

A Joyful Noise, by Oscar Brand and Paul Nassau. New musical bound for Broadway following a five-month tryout at several music theater “tents” and theaters in the round: Scenery by Peter Wexler. Lighting by Jules Fisher; choreography by Michael Bennett. Starring John Raitt. With Donna Mc Kechnie, James Rado, Baayork Lee, Tommy Tune. While the production I directed won exceptionally positive reviews from critics along our extensive touring route, I felt the libretto by Edward Padula was embarrassing. As he was also one of the lead producers my argument was not well received. In fairness to Ed, he paid for some well-known script doctors to see the show and what the fuss was about. But no one wanted to take the job of rewriting it. I believed that the show would be very poorly received on Broadway. I urged that its road trip be extended: box office would continue to be strong because of John Raitt who was still a strong draw all over the US; and time could be given to truly revamp the libretto. Not to be done. I left the production, which was ultimately directed by Padula himself. It opened and closed at the Mark Hellinger Theater on Broadway on Christmas week 1966. Best news from it all: Michael Bennett won his first Tony nomination for his choreography.

Sister Sadie and the Sons of Sam, by Clifford Mason, a new play produced by Gordon Davidson and Edward Parrone at the Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles, in the “New Theater for Now” Festival. Virginia Capers played the role of Sadie.

Gordon DavidsonGordon Davidson: one of the pioneers of the regional theater movement. Gordon was trying to create uncompromisingly high quality theater in Los Angeles when there weren’t more than two or three other such enterprises anywhere in the country. He developed new plays, created and directed a repertory company from time to time, and served as president of the all-important Theatre Communications Group and of the League of Regional Theaters. Gordon was also one of my generous advocates. I had and still have no doubt that his recommendation of me to create a new theater in Pittsburgh was the one that carried the most influence.

New Broadway Comedy in tryout summer theater tour, produced by Elliott Martin and starring Anne Baxter and Barry Nelson.

Diplomatic Relations by A.A. Lewis, in tryout summer theater tour, produced by Elliott Martin and starring Celeste Holm and Gene Raymond (?).

Dr. Charles De Carlo

IBM Multimedia educational seminar, 2 Penn Plaza, Madison Sq. Garden, New York. This was my introduction to the operational and ethical issues of computers. Working with research and development analysts and engineers from throughout IBM, I helped develop and then stage a one-day interactive seminar in a state-of-the-art multimedia theater in the round that was designed to hold 16 attendees. The content and artistic leader of the seminar was Dr. Charles De Carlo who was IBM’s Director of Automation Research. The genesis of my corporate presentation skills consulting company, Shaktman Associates, came from this life-changing experience.

Cabaret by Kander, Ebb and Masteroff, produced by Stephen Slane in association with Hyannis Summer Theater, with Jenny O’Hara, Wayne Tippett, Dick Latessa and and…….Choreographer, George Bundt; music director, Jack Lee. “Shaktman’s production is in many ways far superior to the Broadway original,” Elliott Norton, Boston Record-American.

Fiddler on the Roof by Bock, Harnick and Stein, produced by Stephen Slane and a consortium of major summer musical theaters in the eastern US. Starring Leonard Nimoy, with Tresa Hughes, Richard Ryder, and and and. Choreographed by George Bundt and musical direction by Herbert Grossman.

The Man in the Glass Booth by Robert Shaw, produced at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, California, which was a significant year-round regional repertory theater. Starring Leonard Nimoy with Richard Hays and and.Jeff Corey

Voices, a new opera by Charles Strouse, presented in workshop at Trinity Church in Manhattan. Herbert Grossman was the music director. The cast included Clifton Davis, Madeline Kahn, Victoria Jackson and and.

King Lear, Shakespeare, at the North Shore Shakespeare Festival presented by the Boston Globe. With: Jeff Corey as Lear; and Thomas Toner as Gloucester; Stephen Collins as Edmund; Jack Ryland as Edgar; John Long (?) as Fool; Barbara Andres as Goneril; Carol Mayo Jenkins as Reagan; Laurie Kennedy as Cordelia; Michael Tsoumanian (?) as Kent.

Betsy Palmer


Produced in repertory with:

A Doll’s House, by Ibsen and starring Betsy Palmer, with Barbara Andres and and and.

The Old Ones by Arnold Wesker, American Premiere, produced by Edith Oliver Rea and presented at the Lamb’s Club Theater, New York. With Lou Gilbert, Norman Rose, Eda Reiss Merin, Carole Teitel, Carol Mayo Jenkins, John Stewart, David Garfield, Tresa Hughes. Scenery and costumes by Ed Wittstein. Lighting by Jules Fisher.

The Old Ones