Actors Talk About Shakespeare

Mary Maher in her studio

Photo by Brad Eastburn

When Kenneth Branagh says to you, “I love the chapter. No changes,” and Kevin Kline jokes, “Did I say that? That’s brilliant!”—you feel you have done your job well. You also know you are onto something about documenting the acting process.

This is my third book about Shakespeare in performance. It includes Kevin Kline, Kenneth Branagh, Derek Jacobi, Stacy Keach, Zoe Caldwell, Martha Henry, William Hutt, Nicholas Pennell, Tony Church, and Geoffrey Hutchings (my resident clown).

I interview these prominent English-speaking actors about their acting process in order to record how actors in the 20th and 21st century viewed their art form, acting Shakespeare, in theory and in practice. (By the way, actors are much more about practice than theory.)

I work from a set of questions about how an actor prepares to perform, what goes into the rehearsal process, how actors interact with directors and designers and colleagues, and, finally, what really happens in performance. The answers are revealing. The book is directed to a faithful audience of Shakespeare fans and festival-goers, novice actors, and seasoned actors.

Cover of Actors Talk About ShakespeareArtists have journeys. Their work is time-bound to their age and to their experience. Here are the exceptional ones who began and continued and matured, still acting Shakespeare. That trajectory is important to the professional quality of their stories and to the solidity of the advice they give. It is fascinating to watch how the conversations clash now and then but also frequently jell.

Actors Talk About Shakespeare
Applause/Limelight Books, 2009

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