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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: October ::
Twilight of the Gods
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1823  Tuesday, 5 October 2004

From:           Brian Willis <
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Date:           Tuesday, 5 Oct 2004 04:56:00 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 15.1798 Twilight of the Gods
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1798 Twilight of the Gods

Although Charles quotes a certain selection from Ian Holm's
autobiography, seemingly placing Olivier on a pedestal as physical and
vocal perfection for actors everywhere, it is an incomplete image. I met
Ian Holm last week when he signed his book in Stratford. He did indeed
discuss Olivier. He also discussed his later disenchantment with Olivier
and the egotism of his acting. Although I'm sure that this first
enlightenment of his vocation was truly an epiphany, in a later section
(as he reiterated in person), he discussed his hero worship with Alec
Guinness who shared it. They both had fallen a little out of love with
Olivier, who could betray moments of flashiness and self-involvement.
Although I appreciate and enjoy a majority of Olivier's work, I find it
intriguing that two of the great chameleon actors of our time could move
away from his example towards a subtler form of acting.

I share Charles's appreciation of the actors who tackled Shakespeare at
the turn of the twentieth century through the post-WWII era. I am also
concerned with the lack of steady production value in the Shakespeare
theatre industry. These are the reasons my thesis is working on those
very topics. But rather than declaring the "twilight of the gods", can
we look at what made them tick, what influenced their decisions, and
what continues to shape their development as artists rather than blanket
condemnation or praise for an actor or his entire generation? I thought
the whole point of academic exploration was to be insightful, not derisive.

And yes, I too wish I could have played Mutius and that production and
seen what happened on that stage. It is an experience I deeply regret I
will never enjoy.

Brian Willis

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