Friday

why we hate classic theater


One problem for Shakespearean actors nowadays is that they are plainly embarrassed by the more famous speeches, like: 'Had I but died an hour before this chance' or 'Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,' both of which [Nicol] Williamson [in the RSC's production of Macbeth] threw away. I see their difficulty, but it seems a shame that we shall never hear these speeches properly delivered.

One solution might be to swap them around a bit. Thus, instead of saying 'Once more into the breach, dear friends,' Henry V might recite 'Friends, Romans, Countrymen'; instead of 'Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,' Macbeth might break into 'Where the bee sucks, there suck I.'

Obviously this solution is not ideal, particularly from the point of view of narrative continuity, but it seems to meet two requirements—the actors' passion for endless novelty and the audiences' pathetic hope of hearing a little poetry from time to time.

The Private Eye Diary of Auberon Waugh
December 11, 1974

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