Theatre in Wales

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Looking Back: Actors on Their Art

Actor Theatre Book

Actors , Books on Acting , July 10, 2021
Actor Theatre Book by Actors Actors have had the hardest time of it. Some prominent names have featured over the period in interview. Some reports have been candid on the lethargy and listlessness that has been the result of their profession being suspended and in limbo.

In a time without actors it is a good time to remember the footprint that some have left behind, away from stage or studio. From links below:

October 2009: Richard Eyre “Talking Theatre”

Among many Victor Spinetti remembers Joan Littlewood.

Judi Dench: I don't think we should talk about acting because there's nothing to talk about, really. It's as if we are blank canvases. It's the play and the author and the author's intention that energise the actor. It's only when you're telling the story that you're doing your job; after you've done that you've done that there's nothing really to talk about.”

December 2009: Michael Munn on Richard Burton

January 2011: Simon Callow “My Life in Pieces”

On the effect of drama school:

“You will learn to live with language in all its many forms in ways that that the whole temper of the times denies. You will learn how to access and use parts of your body and your brain that you scarcely knew existed. You will discover rhythm and tempo, absent for the most part from daily life. You will learn to look at life with the keen eye of someone who has to reproduce it. You will learn, as Brecht said, to drink a cup of tea in forty different ways….You will have to think about history, about the past, about the present and the future, and you will have to ask why the theatre has been central to the life of society for more than two-and-a-half thousand years.”

January 2012: Tom Rubython on Richard Burton

September 2012: Andy Nyman “the Golden Rules of Acting”

May 2013: Paul Harvard “Acting Through Song”

August 2013: Michael Simkins “the Rules of Acting”

Simkins' tone is distinctive, the end-of-third-year summer showcase “horrid, frightening, sphincter-tightening, occasions at which it’s all too easy to feel like a total loser.”

July 2014: Simon Callow: “Being an Actor”

The one that has lasted and lasted. The low: “unemployment is “the primeval slime from which actors emerge and to which they return.”

The high: “It wasn't to be seen. It wasn't to impress. It was to do it, to revel in this newly discovered joy, to romp around in the adventure playground that I myself had become...the happy accident of hitting my own centre...The circle was now complete. The intellectual understanding fused with the sensation. Not only was I doing the right thing, I knew what it was, so I could do it again. It was mine.”

December 2014: David Weston “Covering Shakespeare”

July 2015: Anthony Sher “Year of the Fat Knight”

December 2016: Robert Sellers “Peter O'Toole the Definitive Biography”

November 2017: James Hayes “Shouting in the Evenings”

December 2017: Michael Pennington “Let Me Play the Lion Too: How to Be an Actor”

February 2018: Harriet Walter “Brutus and Other Heroines”

“Playing men was not so much about putting on deep voices or blokeish walks; it was more about stripping away feminine gestures. We found so many of our cultural habits...were about accommodating other people and making ourselves less threatening. We tried to get into a mindset of entitlement; entitlement to be seen and heard. To take up space and dominate a room.”

March 2018: Harriet Walter “Other People's Shoes”

“Look for the fear. Fear is a great clue to psychological motive.”

“When we sit in the audience we don't just watch a fait accompli, we are part of the event. We remember the play as a personal memory. It is something that happened to us.”

September 2019: Michael Simkins “What's My Motivation?”

The one that actors love.

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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