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Arena: The National Theatre

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Messages: 1 - 50 of 69
  • Message 1. 

    Posted by Mobson7 (U14628682) on Thursday, 24th October 2013

    The National Theatre was 50 on Tuesday and has been celebrating with fireworks and a visit from HM The Queen, and before a special star-studded evening Gala on Saturday 2nd November in which a cast of over 100 who have been connected to the theatre over the past fives decades will perform...(it will be broadcast live on BBC2), it gave the BBC unprecedented access to make two Arena documentaries for BBC Four.

    The first film is called The Dream and is on this evening and asks "why it took until 1963 to create a National Theatre, and Dame Joan Plowright talks frankly to director Adam Low about the appointment of her husband Laurence Olivier, the greatest actor of his generation, as the National's first artistic director. The films uncover the life of the Theatre's early golden period at the Old Vic, the National's first home, under the towering presence of Olivier; the commissioning and construction of the controversial and now iconic Denys Lasdun building on the South Bank; and the turbulent succession of Peter Hall at the end of Olivier's reign.

    Through the personal anecdotes of those who wrote, directed and performed on the National's many stages the films reveal the stories behind the greatest hit productions, from Olivier's Othello to War Horse, under artistic directors Peter Hall, Richard Eyre, Trevor Nunn and up to and including the latest great successes under Nicholas Hytner. Other contributors include Maggie Smith, Derek Jacobi, Alan Bennett, Judi Dench, Francis de la Tour, David Hare, Alan Ayckbourn and Adrian Lester. "

    Tonight BBC4 @ 9pm

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  • Message 2

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by Phil-ap (U13637313) on Thursday, 24th October 2013

    Just started watching this and was reminded that Laurence Olivier had a Peaky Blinders haircut in the film of Henry V.

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  • Message 3

    , in reply to message 2.

    Posted by zelda (U2012536) ** on Thursday, 24th October 2013

    It's definitely one for the theatrical fans....... Was Olivier really the best actor we ever had?

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  • Message 4

    , in reply to message 3.

    Posted by Johnnymol (U14690244) on Thursday, 24th October 2013

    It's definitely one for the theatrical fans....... Was Olivier really the best actor we ever had?  He certainly was a versatile actor when you consider his CV - I suppose every decade produces a raft of actors who are often (or later) described as the best. I suppose from a British perspective Olivier moved easily between all mediums be it Theatre, TV or Film, But apart from repeats of his films, its hard to judge someone who we have few recorded examples of his theatrical works - We can really only go off those who saw it at that time and from his peers and those who acted with him.

    The fact so many in the acting world still regard him as a great(if not the greatest) actor must say something about the man and his works.

    I suppose there are many other British actors who others might also want to consider as great, but are they as good as Olivier.

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  • Message 5

    , in reply to message 3.

    Posted by Phil-ap (U13637313) on Thursday, 24th October 2013

    It's definitely one for the theatrical fans....... Was Olivier really the best actor we ever had?  I don't think there is a need to nominate a best actor. What is the point of that.

    Report message5

  • Message 6

    , in reply to message 5.

    Posted by zelda (U2012536) ** on Friday, 25th October 2013

    It's definitely one for the theatrical fans....... Was Olivier really the best actor we ever had?  I don't think there is a need to nominate a best actor. What is the point of that.  I wasn't nominating anything.... it was merely a comment. I found the programme interesting.

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  • Message 7

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by meldrewsrevenge (U13159010) on Friday, 25th October 2013

    I thought this was brilliantly edited, very unexpected because the standard of documentaries on BBC is generally atrocious. It was particularly noticeable that when the narrative mentioned something slightly tangential there was a quick visual insert to remind you. It was illuminating and not intrusive. Hope these editors get to educate the rest of the BBC documentary making squad.

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  • Message 8

    , in reply to message 3.

    Posted by david fogarty (U14299453) ** on Friday, 25th October 2013

    It's definitely one for the theatrical fans....... Was Olivier really the best actor we ever had?  Perhaps the most charismatic, but not sure I would rank him as the best technically speaking. As Jonathan Miller said his Othello was appalling.

    Just as an aside, when he donned that hat and raincoat during his NT tenure he always put me in mind of Harry Worth.

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  • Message 9

    , in reply to message 4.

    Posted by PontusPilot (U5362209) on Friday, 25th October 2013

    Rather than just an extract from the NT plays, be nice if the bbc could screen the whole thing (thou,not Shakespear,please ! ) but perhaps the clips is all there is ?
    Also ,what about broadcasting the audio recordings with some punch an judy style animation ?

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  • Message 10

    , in reply to message 9.

    Posted by Phil-ap (U13637313) on Friday, 25th October 2013

    Rather than just an extract from the NT plays, be nice if the bbc could screen the whole thing (thou,not Shakespear,please ! ) but perhaps the clips is all there is ?
    Also ,what about broadcasting the audio recordings with some punch an judy style animation ? 
    If you want to see NT plays on a screen pop down to your local cinema and watch NT live. I would like to think that some of these could reach our TV screen sometime soon and the recent pronouncements regarding the arts on the BBC are encouraging.

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  • Message 11

    , in reply to message 10.

    Posted by MAY-DAY (U14316705) on Friday, 25th October 2013

    I enjoyed this; some great archive material.

    Obviously methods of acting develop over the generations; so Olivier's rather formal, sometimes stilted style can look a bit odd by modern tastes.

    I've just read Trevor Griffiths' "The Party", but we only saw a photo of Olivier as John Tagg; even a bit of audio of him doing the working-class Glasgow accent would have been nice.
    (I assume that no such document exists.)

    Talking of left-wing politics...

    Next week, there will be more drama offstage than on - as Peter Hall does battle with the (then) all-powerful unions.
    If a fella from the wrong union changed a light-bulb... all three theatres would go dark!

    Report message11

  • Message 12

    , in reply to message 11.

    Posted by Portly (U1381981) on Friday, 25th October 2013

    This may be unfair, but I always felt when watching Olivier that his attitude was "You are fortunate to be watching me, the great Olivier, bringing a brilliance to this role that no other actor could." Thus I felt that he was taking away from the performance by bringing his own ego into it.

    With actors whom I like, for example Michael Gambon or Timothy Spall, I find that they are able to inhabit their character and make me believe in it.

    Olivier also introduced that clipped style of speaking in Shakespeare performances that became the standard for other actors and I am not convinced is the best.

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  • Message 13

    , in reply to message 12.

    Posted by Phil-ap (U13637313) on Friday, 25th October 2013

    The best actors have charisma and Olivier had that by the bucket load. While his style is of its period it can't be denied that he drew the crowds in a way that few do today.

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  • Message 14

    , in reply to message 11.

    Posted by goodhelenstar (U13943062) on Friday, 25th October 2013

    Obviously methods of acting develop over the generations; so Olivier's rather formal, sometimes stilted style can look a bit odd by modern tastes.  Yes, I think that's true. Having said that, his style was very different in his films so he could adapt to different requirements. I'm thinking particularly of The Boys from Brazil and Marathon Man. Also Sleuth, where (I assume) he was sending himself up.

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  • Message 15

    , in reply to message 12.

    Posted by germinator (U13411914) on Friday, 25th October 2013

    Yes Portly I agree with that 100%, Olivier was good enough for Shakespeare, but I cannot take seriously that style of speech and acting.

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  • Message 16

    , in reply to message 10.

    Posted by Annie-Lou (U4502268) on Friday, 25th October 2013

    Rather than just an extract from the NT plays, be nice if the bbc could screen the whole thing (thou,not Shakespear,please ! ) but perhaps the clips is all there is ?
    Also ,what about broadcasting the audio recordings with some punch an judy style animation ? 
    If you want to see NT plays on a screen pop down to your local cinema and watch NT live. I would like to think that some of these could reach our TV screen sometime soon and the recent pronouncements regarding the arts on the BBC are encouraging. 
    Yes. I went on Tuesday to see Rory Kinner's Hamlet. It was terrific. If you thought he was great as Bolingbroke on the Beeb (which I did), don't miss it!
    He is so wonderfully fresh, spontaneous and modern he makes Olivier look like a terrible old ham.

    Report message16

  • Message 17

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by FleetingEileenM (U14106338) on Friday, 25th October 2013

    I recorded it last night as I was out and am looking forward to watching it.

    I went to the Old Vic many times in the 1960s and saw some early performances by NT actors who became well known afterwards - Derek Jacobi, Frank Finlay, Robert Stephens, John Stride, Ronald Pickup, Graham Crowden, Anthony Hopkins, etc.

    A friend and I would put in for whatever tickets were available for the plays we wanted to see and once or twice we received them for matinee and evening on the same day!

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  • Message 18

    , in reply to message 16.

    Posted by Johnnymol (U14690244) on Friday, 25th October 2013

    Rory Kinnear is not in the same class as Olivier. He certainly hasn't got the charisma or star quality Olivier had.

    But I don't deny that he's a good actor (apart from Women in Love in which he was totally mis-cast) - But then again there are so many good actors.

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  • Message 19

    , in reply to message 18.

    Posted by Annie-Lou (U4502268) on Friday, 25th October 2013

    Rory Kinnear is not in the same class as Olivier. He certainly hasn't got the charisma or star quality Olivier had.

    But I don't deny that he's a good actor (apart from Women in Love in which he was totally mis-cast) - But then again there are so many good actors. 
    It is a matter of taste. I would far rather see Rory Kinner. Olivier's grandstanding style can seem very artificial and over-blown to a modern audience. Kinner, on the other hand brings a subtlety and humanity that makes you feel you really know the character as a person and forget that you've seen the play a dozen times.

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  • Message 20

    , in reply to message 19.

    Posted by alan997 (U1233723) on Friday, 25th October 2013

    Olivier was an ack-torrrr. Old School, and of that genre, probably the best. That approach now looks very stagey ('hammy', as one kind soul posted above), but it certainly had its validity, in its own terms, and arguably no other suits 'the classics' (for which read Bill the Bard) half so well. (Naturalistic acting is all well & good...but no-one supposes anyone ever actually spoke like that. WS is verse, to be declaimed, not dialogue, to be spoken.)

    Olivier was also Old School in the way that his rep background equipped him to fill any role. Few actors of the modern era, however good, come close to the likes of Olivier in sheer versatility.

    The programme, I thought, was very well done.The NT is now such a fixture, so much 'part of the furniture', it's easy to forget just how recent an innovation it is (as the commentary noted, how weird, in the homeland of the above-mentioned Bard). And I thought the contributors were well chosen and spoke well, and - at least as important - were allowed to speak.

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  • Message 21

    , in reply to message 20.

    Posted by Annie-Lou (U4502268) on Friday, 25th October 2013

    I agree that he was one of the best of a certain style, which some like and so don't, but I ardently disagree that Shakespeare is meant to be declaimed and not spoken. (It is dialogue, to be acted. Its hopeless if you try and read it off the page)
    Its this approach to it that makes people feel that it is in some foreign language and therefore beyond their understanding. Its an idea currently being pushed by Julian Fellowes, who has taken it upon himself to re-write the bard for ordinary folk as he feels that the original cannot be understood unless one has a "level of scholarship" and an "expensive education" (Lord Fellowes' words)

    I think thats rubbish. Shakespeare wrote for everyone, the groundlings as much as the elite. And I prefer to be able to relate to the characters as real people.

    Or as the bard himself put it: "Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue. But if you mouth it, as many of your players do, I had as lief the town crier spoke my lines"

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  • Message 22

    , in reply to message 21.

    Posted by alan997 (U1233723) on Friday, 25th October 2013

    Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
    You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
    Till you have drench’d our steeples, drown’d the cocks!
    You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,
    Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
    Singe my white head!

    Ok, in your own time...just say it naturally...
    smiley - whistle

    Report message22

  • Message 23

    , in reply to message 22.

    Posted by Annie-Lou (U4502268) on Friday, 25th October 2013

    Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
    You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
    Till you have drench’d our steeples, drown’d the cocks!
    You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,
    Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
    Singe my white head!

    Ok, in your own time...just say it naturally...
    smiley - whistle 
    Yes. Why not? Naturally as a person who has gone bonkers and is at an extreme in his life. Haven't you never heard some poor street-dwelling person ranting like that (though less poetically) on a street corner?

    The issue of the supposed "inaccessibility" of Shakespeare is a bugbear of mine (can you tell? smiley - biggrin). Lord Fellowes maintains that only the likes of him, (who went to Cambridge) can understand it, yet I have no trouble, with my middling colonial education!

    I used to work at a childrens' theatre where we tried to do our bit to counter this idea. We presented Shakespeare (abridged, but not re-written) and the 9 and 10 year olds LOVED it!!

    Report message23

  • Message 24

    , in reply to message 23.

    Posted by alan997 (U1233723) on Friday, 25th October 2013

    Come, you spirits
    That tend on mortal thoughts! Unsex me here,
    And fill me from the crown to the toe top full
    Of direst cruelty; make thick my blood,
    Stop up the access and passage to remorse,
    That no compunctious visitings of nature
    Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
    The effect and it!

    Now, she may be a bit stressed, but she's not bonkers.

    The point is, the error is to suppose that accessibility demands naturalism. Children love it precisely *because* of its poetry, which is anything but 'natural', natural speech, as we know, being largely made up of 'um', and 'er', and pauses. Shakespearean speech is *not* naturalistic, nor does it lend itself to naturalistic delivery. Which is one of the reasons why Olivier, 'hammy' as he may well be, nevertheless has a pretty good claim to be considered 'the best' (whatever that might mean) Shakespearian of our time.

    Report message24

  • Message 25

    , in reply to message 23.

    Posted by LadyAlice (U2796582) on Friday, 25th October 2013

    Lenny Henry did an excellent radio programme about how he didn't think Shakespeare was for 'people like him' - and ended up performing a highly praised Othello.

    I enjoyed this programme, though fear the second one might be a bit of a canter - fewer than 20 years covered last night, more than 30 to go...

    I found the wobbly stills a bit off-putting, but it was an interesting way to present all the information. (I would give a great deal for a browse through the NT's archives...) Looking forward to next week.

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  • Message 26

    , in reply to message 24.

    Posted by Annie-Lou (U4502268) on Friday, 25th October 2013

    I disagree. First of all, he is not of our time. He died nearly 25 years ago! His leading-shakespearean-role heyday was 50-60 years ago. Styles change and most people these days prefer a more natural delivery (clearly Nick Hytner is one of them). And its not necessarily a generational thing. I was just telling a friend of mine (a very active theatre goer in her 70s) about Mr Kinner's Hamlet and she was telling me how much she loved his Iago, as she said it was the first time she had found the character believable. Another friend of mine (a leading theatre designer, also in his 70s) told me he had worked out that he'd seen 11 different Hamlets (including all the 20thC "greats") and his favourite was Mark Rylance (he hadn't seen Rory Kinner, though)

    You might not be able to find natural feeling in the lines you have quoted, but I can only say that I do. Provided of course, they are acted on stage. (As I said, hopeless trying to read it, thats what puts most school kids off)

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  • Message 27

    , in reply to message 26.

    Posted by Annie-Lou (U4502268) on Friday, 25th October 2013

    PS I also disagree about the kids, because they used to write us wonderful letters and they didn't say "I liked the poetry", they said "so-and-so was my favourite character, cos he was COOL!" It was obvious from the way they responded that it was as real to them as Eastenders (and, lets face it, probably less baroque when it comes to the plots!!)

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  • Message 28

    , in reply to message 27.

    Posted by germinator (U13411914) on Friday, 25th October 2013

    I think Olivier and his cohorts need to take responsibility for putting many people off Shakespeare for life, though I needed no such encouragement.

    Report message28

  • Message 29

    , in reply to message 28.

    Posted by Phil-ap (U13637313) on Friday, 25th October 2013

    I think Olivier and his cohorts need to take responsibility for putting many people off Shakespeare for life, though I needed no such encouragement.  I never saw him live but his film of Henry V was terrific and certainly did not turn me off Shakespeare.

    Report message29

  • Message 30

    , in reply to message 29.

    Posted by alan997 (U1233723) on Friday, 25th October 2013

    I think Olivier and his cohorts need to take responsibility for putting many people off Shakespeare for life, though I needed no such encouragement.  I never saw him live but his film of Henry V was terrific and certainly did not turn me off Shakespeare.  They played us his Othello when I was at school. Most of the kids were in hysterics.

    Report message30

  • Message 31

    , in reply to message 30.

    Posted by Johnnymol (U14690244) on Friday, 25th October 2013

    Spencer Tracey who is regarded amongst the greats of acting claimed that in his opinion "Olivier is the greatest actor in the English speaking world" - High praise indeed.

    Report message31

  • Message 32

    , in reply to message 30.

    Posted by Annie-Lou (U4502268) on Friday, 25th October 2013

    I just caught up with the "Muse of Fire" documentary part of the evening which I thought was a total mess really. Far too much about the two presenters (and, inevitably, their "journey") and not enough of the people who might have shed light on the subject.
    They'd interviewed all these amazing people, nearly all of whom just flashed across the screen for a few seconds and (judging by the list of names at the end) quite a few of whom did not feature at all. While great swathes were given over to the two film makers wandering around Covent Garden making asses of themselves or their car breaking down. And far too many vox pops (which all said the same thing: we hated it at school but loved it on the stage)

    They seemed a bit star struck. Why else give so much time to Jude Law or Ewan McGregor or Baz Lurhmann, why the likes of Simon Russel Beale or Jude Kelly got about 3 seconds each? It was especially disappointing with Cicely Berry. What an interesting subject she would have been (she got about 20 seconds).

    One of the film makers, Giles, was Horatio in the above-mentioned Hamlet. I didn't rate him TBH.

    Report message32

  • Message 33

    , in reply to message 31.

    Posted by Annie-Lou (U4502268) on Friday, 25th October 2013

    Spencer Tracey who is regarded amongst the greats of acting claimed that in his opinion "Olivier is the greatest actor in the English speaking world" - High praise indeed.  But when did he say it? 40s? 50s? As I said, tastes and styles change. No-one's doubting how highly regarded he was back then.

    Report message33

  • Message 34

    , in reply to message 33.

    Posted by Johnnymol (U14690244) on Friday, 25th October 2013

    Spencer Tracey who is regarded amongst the greats of acting claimed that in his opinion "Olivier is the greatest actor in the English speaking world" - High praise indeed.  But when did he say it? 40s? 50s? As I said, tastes and styles change. No-one's doubting how highly regarded he was back then.  And is still highly regarded today..........Hitchcock is still highly regarded today. Spencer Tracey, James Stewart, John Mills, Gregory Peck, Ingrid Bergman Laural & Hardy etc etc are all seen as greats in the acting/directing world. You can't just turn round and dismiss their contributions to acting/directing because they lived more than a few years ago. - On that basis Citizen Kane would be seen as something to be ignored because the acting, writing and directing techniques were different then.

    Report message34

  • Message 35

    , in reply to message 34.

    Posted by Annie-Lou (U4502268) on Saturday, 26th October 2013

    Spencer Tracey who is regarded amongst the greats of acting claimed that in his opinion "Olivier is the greatest actor in the English speaking world" - High praise indeed.  But when did he say it? 40s? 50s? As I said, tastes and styles change. No-one's doubting how highly regarded he was back then.  And is still highly regarded today..........Hitchcock is still highly regarded today. Spencer Tracey, James Stewart, John Mills, Gregory Peck, Ingrid Bergman Laural & Hardy etc etc are all seen as greats in the acting/directing world. You can't just turn round and dismiss their contributions to acting/directing because they lived more than a few years ago. - On that basis Citizen Kane would be seen as something to be ignored because the acting, writing and directing techniques were different then.  Nothing I've said has in any way implied any of that. Everything is built on what went before. And judging by this thread there are still a few around who prefer the "Olivier" style, but they would be in a very small majority.
    Its not that he was not a great actor of his time (he was) but that doesn't change the fact that if anyone actually came on and started declaiming melodiously like that now they'd be laughed off the stage.
    As I said, tastes and styles change. The current style will probably seem dated in 50 years.

    Report message35

  • Message 36

    , in reply to message 35.

    Posted by Annie-Lou (U4502268) on Saturday, 26th October 2013

    Sorry "small minority" (not small majority, obviously! smiley - biggrin)

    Report message36

  • Message 37

    , in reply to message 36.

    Posted by Johnnymol (U14690244) on Saturday, 26th October 2013

    Sorry "small minority" (not small majority, obviously! smiley - biggrin "small majority"....I thought I was on a winner then smiley - biggrin

    Report message37

  • Message 38

    , in reply to message 2.

    Posted by aviddiva (U13145965) on Saturday, 26th October 2013

    Just started watching this and was reminded that Laurence Olivier had a Peaky Blinders haircut in the film of Henry V.  I thought he had a look of Erasure's Andy Bell in this!

    Report message38

  • Message 39

    , in reply to message 29.

    Posted by david fogarty (U14299453) ** on Saturday, 26th October 2013

    I think Olivier and his cohorts need to take responsibility for putting many people off Shakespeare for life, though I needed no such encouragement.  I never saw him live but his film of Henry V was terrific and certainly did not turn me off Shakespeare.  The charge of the French Knights in the film version of Henry V has never been to my mind bettered for sheer cinema spectacle. It also had a knock out score by William Walton. smiley - ok

    Report message39

  • Message 40

    , in reply to message 39.

    Posted by david fogarty (U14299453) ** on Saturday, 26th October 2013

    I think Olivier and his cohorts need to take responsibility for putting many people off Shakespeare for life, though I needed no such encouragement.  I never saw him live but his film of Henry V was terrific and certainly did not turn me off Shakespeare.  The charge of the French Knights in the film version of Henry V has never been to my mind bettered for sheer cinema spectacle. It also had a knock out score by William Walton. smiley - ok  Anyone remember the actor Donald Wolfit? I could be wrong but I the actor-manager in The Dresser was based on him? Anyway, someone once witheringly said of him " If Olivier is a tour de force, then Wolfit is forced de tour"

    Report message40

  • Message 41

    , in reply to message 40.

    Posted by MAY-DAY (U14316705) on Saturday, 26th October 2013

    Hi David,

    Yep, I know yer man Wolfit.
    And "The Dresser" was indeed based on him.

    I think he was the actor who, when asked do Romeo and Juliet actually sleep together, replied -
    "Not in the West End; but certainly on tour."

    Hi Helen.

    I take your point (msg 14) about Olivier's acting in the movies.
    William Goldman (who wrote "Marathon Man") tells the story about Dustin Hoffman getting all worked-up in his intense, Method-style way, and Olivier saying casually -

    "Have you ever just tried acting, dear boy?"


    Hi Annie-Lou,

    For what it's worth, I think my favourite Hamlet is Jonathan Pryce in Richard Eyre's production at the Royal Court in the late 70s.

    I was a mid-teens schoolgirl at the time; though it wasn't a school trip.
    It was my first time in London (indeed England!) and I just wanted to see the famous Royal Court for the first time; so I made my own way to a matinee performance.

    Obviously my youth added to the resonance that the production still has in my memory...

    Report message41

  • Message 42

    , in reply to message 41.

    Posted by Annie-Lou (U4502268) on Sunday, 27th October 2013

    Sounds great Mayday. I think its a case of chaque un a son Prince of Denmark. But whoever you prefer, the crucial thing is to see it come alive, not make school kids labour over it on the page. Any good Shakespearean actor can make you understand the words even if they are unfamiliar.

    The only time I have tried to read Shakespeare (since school) was when I was about to start work on a production of Troilus and Cressida. It being one of the obscure ones, I'd never seen it and new little about it so thought I'd familiarise myself with it. I honestly couldn't get through it! But of course it was fine when I saw it.

    Report message42

  • Message 43

    , in reply to message 42.

    Posted by fox_at_moonlight (U15160069) on Sunday, 27th October 2013

    I missed all this smiley - sadface and would have loved all these programmes.

    As for actors, it's all a matter of taste isn't it smiley - smiley. Personally, I would rather watch/hear Richard Burton. I could never understand the attraction of LO - his roles in Rebecca and Wuthering Heights didn't work for me; found him a bit wooden considering these were romantic leads. However, I never did see him on stage so perhaps it was just how he came across on film.

    For me, Judi Dench never fails to please. Stunning actor on every level. As is Emma Thompson; I envy her abilities at acting, writing and directing; she is brilliant at all of them and long may she continue.

    Report message43

  • Message 44

    , in reply to message 43.

    Posted by Annie-Lou (U4502268) on Sunday, 27th October 2013

    i wouldn't bother with the "Muse of Fire" one, Foxy. It was pretty useless, though I would love someone to gather up all the interviews they obviously recorded but never used and make a decent documentary of them instead of one about two obscure and slightly scruffly actors wandering all over.

    Report message44

  • Message 45

    , in reply to message 17.

    Posted by heterodox (U14291406) on Sunday, 27th October 2013

    '... Derek Jacobi, Frank Finlay, Robert Stephens, John Stride, Ronald Pickup, Graham Crowden, Anthony Hopkins, etc.'

    Just been reading Richard Burton's diaries and its noticeable that he hasn't a good word to say about many of the actors that you mention: Olivier and Stephens get particularly rough treatment. I'm surprised that neither Gielgud or Ralph Richardson appear in your list and particularly Gielgud because I can remember him playing Prospero at the National to great acclaim.Richardson more associated with Stratford, I suppose, although he did play at the Old Vic many times.
    It was nice that the programme made mention of Olivier's role in The Entertainer as 'career saving'. That's always been my opinion and I would go further and say that it was the best thing he ever did. Better than his buttock-rolling and lisping Othello anyway.

    Report message45

  • Message 46

    , in reply to message 44.

    Posted by fox_at_moonlight (U15160069) on Sunday, 27th October 2013

    "Muse of Fire"  
    What and when is that, Annie-Lou smiley - smiley.

    There's an Arena on BBC4 next Thursday - "Former directors of the National Theatre and the present incumbent, Nicholas Hytner, share their experiences." It's an hour and half long so am going to record this.

    Report message46

  • Message 47

    , in reply to message 46.

    Posted by fox_at_moonlight (U15160069) on Sunday, 27th October 2013

    Just googled it, Annie-Lou. Doesn't sound like something I would like.

    Report message47

  • Message 48

    , in reply to message 46.

    Posted by MAY-DAY (U14316705) on Sunday, 27th October 2013

    I agree, heterodox -
    I would have liked to see a wee bit of Olivier as Archie Rice in "The Entertainer" as well.

    It's an odd irony...

    "Look Back In Anger" / The Royal Court / the "kitchen sink" dramas...
    They all killed the career of Olivier's big pal, Terence Rattigan, overnight.

    But nowadays...

    It's the brilliant Rattigan plays that have stood the test of time, and that are being revived all over the world; and it's most of the 50s Royal Court plays that now look like quaint period pieces, and are rarely seen!

    Report message48

  • Message 49

    , in reply to message 12.

    Posted by aviddiva (U13145965) on Sunday, 27th October 2013

    This may be unfair, but I always felt when watching Olivier that his attitude was "You are fortunate to be watching me, the great Olivier, bringing a brilliance to this role that no other actor could." Thus I felt that he was taking away from the performance by bringing his own ego into it.

    With actors whom I like, for example Michael Gambon or Timothy Spall, I find that they are able to inhabit their character and make me believe in it.

    Olivier also introduced that clipped style of speaking in Shakespeare performances that became the standard for other actors and I am not convinced is the best. 
    Also parodied by Peter Sellers in his take on A Hard Day's Night!

    Report message49

  • Message 50

    , in reply to message 49.

    Posted by germinator (U13411914) on Sunday, 27th October 2013

    It would be an interesting experiment to allocate ten Shakespeare plays to classes of 15/16 year-old schildren around the UK, ask them to rewrite in language they felt comfortable with, put them in their own setting, and get them down to about 40 minutes at most.

    Report message50

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