In 1992 I sat within spitting distance of Fiona Shaw as Electra in Deborah Warner's stunning production for the Royal Shakespeare Company. The setting was the Templemore Sports Complex in Derry, the five a side football and badminton courts opened up for what was one of the most important plays to be seen in Northern Ireland. It was part of the year long festival IMPACT 92 and Sean Doran, the festival director, had bravely booked Electra, with Shaw playing it in her Irish accent, to sell out crowds. People were in tears after it finished, unable to leave their seats, the power punch of Shaw's performance and the raw emotion still pulsating through the air after the cast had left the stage.
Last week I was within spitting distance of Fiona Shaw again as she was in Derry at the invitation of the pioneering Verbal Arts Centre to promote love poetry for another collaboration with Warner, Peace Camp (check out a video fronted by Fiona here). White Park Bay in County Antrim, and Mussenden Temple in Downhill Demesne, near Coleraine, have been selected to be a part of the event.
It's incredible to watch her recite poetry, from memory. Her take on an extract from Ted Hughes' Ovid was mind blowing. Earlier in the day, I sat in on an imprompt mini masterclass, in which she dissected almost every word of a poem being read to her and promptly brought new meaning and clarity (and a tear to my eye) with each word. To hear her recite poetry is to fall in love with it. Fans of True Blood don't know what they are missing by not hearing her real passion.
More info on Peace Camp here