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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: October ::
Kevin Kline's Shakespeare Sessions
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0907  Monday, 16 October 2006

From: 		Hardy M. Cook <
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Date: 		Monday, October 16, 2006
Subject: 	Kevin Kline's Shakespeare Sessions

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2006/10/prweb450056.htm

Kevin Kline's Shakespeare Sessions 2006-10-15

"Shakespeare Sessions" with Kevin Kline, the acclaimed documentary which 
first aired on PBS, is coming to DVD.

(PRWEB) October 14, 2006 -- "Shakespeare Sessions" with Kevin Kline and 
"the world's most famous English teacher," John Barton, from the 
producers who brought you the acclaimed "Working Shakespeare" series.

Two founders of the Royal Shakespeare Company, John Barton and Sir Peter 
Hall, both legendary directors of the classics, traveled to New York 
City to work with an all-star American cast, including Kevin Kline, 
David Hyde Pierce ("Frasier"), Cynthia Nixon ("Sex in the City"), Liev 
Schreiber ("The Omen") and Charles S. Dutton ("Ma Rainey's Black 
Bottom") on what has traditionally been viewed as a British 
protectorate: Shakespeare's Stage.

"It is very hard today to make an audience listen to and understand 
Shakespeare," Barton instructs his celebrated class. Barton proceeds to 
do just that, adroitly breaking down Shakespeare's seemingly 
impenetrable language, analyzing the emotional syntax of each scene 
(including highlights from "Hamlet," "Henry V," "Othello," "Merchant of 
Venice" and "Much Ado About Nothing"), and focusing actors on the 
practical performance clues Shakespeare has embedded in his plays.

"Shakespeare Sessions," a film by Oscar-nominated director Oren Jacoby, 
reveals a rare behind-the-scenes analysis of how Shakespeare's plays 
actually work on stage and on the page. Barton's hands-on, gloves-off, 
intellectual approach is an ideal companion to the visceral liberation 
and vocal experiments of Cicely Berry's "Working Shakespeare," the 
Working Arts Library's first release in July, hosted by Jeremy Irons. 
Indeed Barton and Berry have been complementing each other's text and 
voice work on the same RSC productions for over 30 years.

"Shakespeare Sessions" records these intimate workshops as Barton 
combines scholarship with stagecraft, drawing out an actor's own textual 
speculations in performance, sometimes through a lively examination of a 
single word. Barton, whose renowned Shakespeare television workshops 
have made him perhaps the world's most famous English teacher, inspires 
his students to a pragmatic state of courage based on knowledge of the 
text. In his early days, he served as a fight director, and here he 
thrusts and parries with his students, maneuvering them into a 
comfortable engagement with Shakespeare's language. Words are no blunt 
instruments in Barton's capable hands, and in this historic revelation 
of an actor's process, his students learn to wield words with a new 
respect for their power.

"Shakespeare Sessions" isn't an English and Drama department special. 
Law schools should also take note: The film, which first aired on PBS, 
features Alan Dershowitz, litigator supreme on the American courtroom 
scene, who flew in to witness Barton interrogating the text of Merchant 
of Venice and to take a run at a speech or two himself. It is, after 
all, the argument behind the language that must engage audience and 
reader alike.

Dustin Hoffman appears in rehearsal with Peter Hall for their Broadway 
production of "Merchant of Venice." Other actors in the 60-minute film, 
produced by Denver Center's Dirk Olson and Brockman Seawell, include 
Patrick Stewart, Harriet Walter, Janet Suzman, Lynn Collins, Peter 
Francis James and Mia Tagano.
[ . . . ]

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