A SERIES OF MASTER CLASSES WITH THE GREATEST SHAKESPEAREAN ACTORS OF THEIR AGE
SIT IN ON NINE INTENSIVE ACTING WORKSHOPS conducted by the legendary John Barton of the Royal Shakespeare Company. How does this world-renowned troupe make classic plays accessible to modern audiences, without compromising the text’s integrity? How do actors search Shakespeare’s verse for hidden clues to their characters’ motivations? How do they balance intellect and passion to make theatre’s most famous soliloquies seem fresh?
The answers come from Barton and 21 of Britain’s finest actors, including Judi Dench (“Shakespeare in Love,” “Iris”), Ben Kingsley (“Gandhi,” “Schindler’s List”), Peggy Ashcroft (“A Passage to India”), Ian McKellen (“The Lord in the Rings,” “Gods & Monsters”), Patrick Stewart (“X-Men,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation”), and David Suchet (“Agatha Christie’s Poirot).
Also starring Sinéad Cusack up the irish! 🙂 , Susan Fleetwood, Sheila Hancock, Alan Howard, Donald Sinden, Michael Williams, and more.
1. THE TWO TRADITIONS
Shakespeare wrote for a performance style that differs in many respects from modern, “naturalistic” acting. Barton urges the actors to marry both traditions for the richest, most faithful characterizations.
with MIKE GWILYM, SHEILA HANCOCK, LISA HARROW, ALAN HOWARD, BEN KINGSLEY, IAN McKELLEN, and DAVID SUCHET
2. USING THE VERSE
By varying the stress contained in a line and using other poetic techniques, Shakespeare planted subtle clues for the actors playing a scene.
with SINÉAD CUSACK, SHEILA HANCOCK, LISA HARROW, ALAN HOWARD, JANE LAPOTAIRE, IAN McKELLEN, PATRICK STEWART, DAVID SUCHET, and MICHAEL WILLIAMS
3. LANGUAGE & CHARACTER
Barton and the company search for antitheses in the verse to reveal complexity of character, working to make dialogue seem fresh and spontaneous.
with SINÉAD CUSACK, LISA HARROW, BEN KINGSLEY, MICHAEL PENNINGTON, ROGER REES, PATRICK STEWART, DAVID SUCHET, and MICHAEL WILLIAMS
4. EXPLORING A CHARACTER
Patrick Stewart and David Suchet demonstrate their individual approaches to one of Shakespeare’s most fascinating characters — Shylock in “The Merchant of Venice.”
with PATRICK STEWART and DAVID SUCHET
5. SET SPEECHES & SOLILOQUIES
Understanding the underlying poetic structure of long speeches and soliloquies helps the actor engage the audience in the character’s thought process.
with TONY CHURCH, SINÉAD CUSACK, JUDI DENCH, SUSAN FLEETWOOD, LISA HARROW, ALAN HOWARD, JANE LAPOTAIRE, BARBARA LEIGH-HUNT, RICHARD PASCO, MICHAEL PENNINGTON, DONALD SINDEN, PATRICK STEWART, and DAVOD SUCHET
6. IRONY & AMBIGUITY
How do actors identify ironic dialogue? How do they use it to reveal character? And how do they communicate it to the audience?
with TONY CHURCH, MIKE GWILYM, ALAN HOWARD, BEN KINGSLEY, JANE LAPOTAIRE, RICHARD PASCO, MICHAEL PENNINGTON, and NORMAN RODWAY
7. PASSION & COOLNESS
In many instances, Shakespeare expressed overflowing emotion and profound thought in the very same speech. How do actors balance the heart and the intellect?
with TONY CHURCH, SUSAN FLEETWOOD, MIKE GWILYM, SHEILA HANCOCK, LISA HARROW, BEN KINGSLEY, BARBARA LEIGH-HUNT, MICHAEL PENNINGTON, DONALD SINDEN, and PATRICK STEWART
8. REHEARSING THE TEXT
Without stage blocking, Barton and four actors explore Shakespeare’s verse as they would in rehearsal, using a scene from “Twelfth Night.”
with JUDI DENCH, RICHARD PASCO, NORMAN RODWAY, and MICHAEL WILLIAMS
9. POETRY & HIDDEN POETRY
Barton examines three ways in which performance falls short of hopes, and members of the company reflect on changing styles of Shakespearean performance.
with PEGGY ASHCROFT, LISA HARROW, ALAN HOWARD, BEN KINGSLEY, IAN McKELLEN, DONALD SINDEN, and DAVID SUCHET
Written and Presented by JOHN BARTON
Directed by JOHN CARLAW
Produced by ANDREW SNELL
Executive Producers MELVYN BRAGG ( of present day in our time on BBC Radio 4! 🙂 ) and NICK EVANS
Casting JANE DAVIES
Music GUY WOOLFENDEN
Videotape Editor GRAHAM ROBERTS