New York Film Academy’s Chair of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Louis Fantasia, wrote the book on Shakespeare. Literally. As the author of Instant Shakespeare, his book is used in classrooms around the world. Although his résumé is 8 pages long, you get the feeling there is a good deal he is leaving out. He first conducted an orchestra at the age of 18, and founded the Georgetown Symphony Orchestra. After graduating with an MFA in Directing from Cal Arts, Fantasia became a Directing Fellow at American Film Institute. He performed the acclaimed one-man show, Double Bass, throughout the United States, and in London, Tokyo, and Berlin. He has directed over 200 plays and operas internationally, and was the first American to direct at the Shakespeare Globe Centre in London. He went on to run the drama school at the Globe for over 20 years.
“Through a series of accidents, I ended up teaching at Juilliard and USC,” says Fantasia. “By the early ‘90s I was invited to direct and teach throughout Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.” Soon after, he was asked to be President of Deep Springs College, a liberal arts college in Northern California.
Louis Fantasia took over as Chair of Liberal Arts & Sciences at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus in 2012, and continues to serve as the director of Shakespeare at the Huntington. Though he confesses to flunking Shakespeare in college, Fantasia admits the playwright has had a profound connection to his life. “It’s about that moment where you get somebody who hates Shakespeare to look at it differently,” he says. “It’s essential in terms of actor training, and essential for directing, even if it’s for film. The complexity, the rhythm, the architecture: once you get that, you can handle just about anything.”
Make sure to pick up a copy of Louis Fantasia’s newest book, Tragedy in the Age of Oprah: Essays on Five Great Plays. In it, Fantasia explores how classic tragedies (including Shakespeare’s King Lear) apply to modern audiences more than ever.