Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Adventures in Shakespeare--Ian McKellen's Acting Shakespeare

Years ago, Ian McKelen brought his one-man show Acting Shakespeare to Los Angeles, where it played to SRO crowds. It was a thrilling night of theater but I only really remember two things about it. The play contains a setpiece in which McKellen explicated the "Tomorrow and Tomorrow" speech from Macbeth, and then acted it out, turning around and around so that with each new line his face grew more and more evil. The physical transformation, which we watched step by step, was astonishing. He ended up with an almost Kabuki mask face.
The other moment that was memorable came near the end when McKellen invited members of the audience to join him on stage to act with him.  Dozens of drama students came up (and I wanted to go too--just to say I'd done it, but I was too shy).
McKellen huddled with the actors and then began proclaiming a speech from one of the history plays, I think.  And at a word cue--everyone else on stage fell down dead.  It got a huge laugh.
Here's McKellen picking the Macbeth speech apart. It's a mini-marvelous lecture.
There's also clip on YouTube of McKellen performing the speech (from a 1979 Trevor Nunn production of the play that was televised). The picture quality is poor but the sound is still quite rich. Check it out.

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