Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Acting Shakespeare; or, Ian McKellen Goes Solo

Acting Shakespeare. Dir. Kirk Browning. Perf. Ian McKellen. 1982. DVD. E1 Entertainment, 2010.

Some years after Playing Shakespeare started, Ian McKellen (Sir Ian to us now) put on a one-man show in which he delivers the greatest hits of Shakespeare along with anecdotes and commentary.

The show is intriguing, more as an avenue of insight into attitudes on Shakespeare in the 1980s than anything else. Sir Ian is charming, but the anecdotes are a bit dated, and he has a tendency to take us very deeply into a character or a speech—and then to release us with an off-hand joke that somewhat deflates the atmosphere rather than relieving the tension.

Still, it's impossible to critique McKellen's acting. It's really quite marvelous.

Here's a place where his instruction and his acting come together best. He explicates Macbeth's "Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow":

Links: The Film at IMDB.

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Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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