The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0907 Monday, 16 October 2006
From: Hardy M. Cook <
Date: Monday, October 16, 2006
Subject: Kevin Kline's Shakespeare Sessions
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
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.
[ . . . ]
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook,
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>
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