n Shakespeare in Southern Africa - The mystery of acting
Shakespeare on Stage: Thirteen Leading Actors on Thirteen Key Roles, Julian Curry (Ed.) : essays and reviews

Volume 24, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1011-582X



It is sometimes claimed that a good actor understands a play much better than a critic; it might be more accurate to say that the actor has a fullness of understanding that is often missing in the academe, so preoccupied with its own concerns. This collection of interviews has as its great merit that it takes us on to the stage with the players; it is not a review or assessment or history of famous productions, but personal testimony to the way the plays work on the stage, how the dynamics shift, how different crises can be handled, how the players respond to the audience. At its weakest, it descends to the level of retelling the story in colloquial, often demotic English, rather like a conversation between teenagers overheard on a bus: "And then I'm, like ... and then he's, like ...". At its strongest, it reminds us of the control and discipline of the players as they submit to the demands of the text and allow a sense of the 'journey' of a character to emerge, as when Kevin Spacey explains what happens when Richard II, abdicating, says of his relinquished crown, "There lies the substance": it is the story, says Spacey, of a king becoming a man.

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