thu 27/04/2017

Theatre Features

'What did you do?' Actors reveal their Shakespearean secrets

Julian Curry

Much of the brilliance of Shakespeare lies in the openness, or ambiguity, of his texts. Whereas a novelist will often describe a character, an action or a scene in the most minute detail, Shakespeare knew that his scenarios would only be fully fleshed out when actors perform them. He was the first writer to create character out of language. Falstaff has an idiosyncratic way of speaking that is quite distinct from Juliet, as she does from Shylock, and he from Lady Macbeth.

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Fracked! Alistair Beaton on his anti-fracking satire

Alistair Beaton

If you’d asked me five years ago whether I might one day write a comedy about fracking, I’d have wondered whether you were entirely in possession of your faculties. Not because fracking sounds dull and boring (although let’s be honest, it does), but because the business of fracking had never really caught my attention.

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Tim Pigott-Smith: from The Jewel in the Crown to King Charles III

jasper Rees

It is the fate of a certain type of well-spoken classically trained actor to wear the livery of the English Establishment. Tim Pigott-Smith, double-barrelled and tall with a high forehead, was one such. But the full arc of his career encompassed vast breadth: he was a gifted tragedian, and a nifty comedian. 

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There's more to Karen Blixen than Meryl Streep

Paul Tickell

Karen Blixen (1885-1962), the prolific Danish storyteller, is perhaps most immediately recognised for the portrayal of her and her works on the big screen, above all by Meryl Streep in Out of Africa. But her own story, and her place in the literary canon, can often be overlooked.

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'Backstabbing, betrayal and love': Ryan Craig on Filthy Business

Ryan Craig

The monster has come alive and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. Thirteen actors playing three generations of a very explosive family arrive in full period costume. Towering Dexion shelving units, heaving with foam and cushions and fabrics and off-cuts, reach to the rafters and snake around the entirety of the stage. They form the looming, metallic skeleton of a hugely intricate replica of a three-storey rubber emporium in 1968.

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Refugees and referendums: Ramin Gray on staging Aeschylus's The Suppliant Women

Ramin Gray

I’m sitting in a rehearsal room in Manchester preparing an Actors Touring Company’s new version of Aeschylus’ The Suppliant Women, listening to a group of young women raise their voices in praise of “untameable Artemis”. She’s the goddess of virginity among many other things. In this play she’s pitted against Aphrodite, the goddess of union, love and sex. The competing claims are complex: retaining one’s virginity implies choice, control, autonomy.

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The private life of Stefan Zweig in England

jasper Rees

On 23 February 1942 at half past four in the afternoon in a secluded Brazilian hilltown called Petrópolis about an hour from Rio, a maid and her husband pushed at the bedroom door of a modest rented house. Despite the late hour, the tenants had not yet stirred. The door swung open to reveal, lying on the bed, a young woman in a cotton dress rolled over on her side, an older supine man wearing a jaunty moustache and a punctilious tie. The woman’s body was still warm.

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Interview: Claire Foy, Netflix queen

jasper Rees

It was a good night for British thespians at the 2016 Golden Globes. The stars of The Night Manager – Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie and Olivia Colman – all visited the podium to collect awards.

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theartsdesk in Cape Town: Summer of nostalgia

Boyd Tonkin

Just 22 years old, South Africa’s national “Day of Reconciliation” on 16 December has shuffled into its perplexed young adulthood. Although commemorative events abound, few people seem to know how to strike the right note for this (just) pre-Christmas holiday. It symbolically occupies a date dear both to Afrikaners - victory over the Zulu kingdom at the Battle of Blood River in 1838 - and to their erstwhile victims.

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Seasons of love: Rent 20 years on

jasper Rees

On January 25 1996, after Rent's final dress rehearsal at the off-off-Broadway New York Theater Workshop, its composer Jonathan Larson went home to his scuzzy loft round the corner, switched on the electric kettle and, before the water had boiled, keeled over with an aortic aneurism. Later that night his roommate found his body on the floor of the kitchen.

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