Thirteen leading actors take us behind the scenes, each recreating in detail a memorable performance in one of Shakespeare’s major roles.
* Brian Cox on Titus Andronicus in Deborah Warner’s visceral RSC production
* Judi Dench on being directed by Franco Zeffirelli as a twenty-three-year-old Juliet
* Ralph Fiennes on Shakespeare’s least sympathetic hero Coriolanus
* Rebecca Hall on Rosalind in As You Like It, directed by her father, Sir Peter
* Derek Jacobi on his hilariously poker-backed Malvolio for Michael Grandage
* Jude Law on his Hamlet, a palpable hit in the West End and on Broadway
* Adrian Lester on a modern-dress Henry V at the National, during the invasion of Iraq
* Ian McKellen on his Macbeth, opposite Judi Dench in Trevor Nunn’s RSC production
* Helen Mirren on a role she was born for, and has played three times: Cleopatra
* Tim Pigott-Smith on Leontes in Peter Hall’s Restoration Winter’s Tale at the National
* Kevin Spacey on his high-tech, modern-dress Richard II
* Patrick Stewart on Prospero in Rupert Goold’s arctic Tempest for the RSC
* Penelope Wilton on Isabella in Jonathan Miller’s ‘chamber’ Measure for Measure
The actors discuss their characters, working through the play scene by scene, with refreshing candour and in forensic detail. The result is a masterclass on playing each role, invaluable for other actors and directors, as well as students of Shakespeare – and fascinating for audiences of the plays.
Together, the interviews give one of the most comprehensive pictures yet of these characters in performance, and of the choices that these great actors have made in bringing them thrillingly to life.
‘These passages of times remembered contribute vividly to the sense of a teemingly creative period when Shakespeare seemed to have been rediscovered.’ Trevor Nunn, from his Foreword
‘Absorbing and original… Curry’s actors are often thinking and talking as that other professional performer, Shakespeare himself, might have done’
— Times Literary Supplement
‘There are many pleasures to be derived from reading this book. It presents portraits of actors in their prime looked at from a particular perspective, it illuminates major Shakespearean roles and, in passing, we learn a lot about the directors with whom these actors worked and their methodologies… Shakespeare on Stage is yet another fine book from the Nick Hern stable and will please any lover of classical theatre or great acting and directing’
— British Theatre Guide