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Home :: Archive :: 2008 :: March ::
2008 Gielgud Award
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0148  Friday, 7 March 2008

From:		John F. Andrews <
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Date:		Friday, 29 Feb 2008 17:10:23 -0500
Subject:	Update on the 2008 Gielgud Award Presentation to Patrick Stewart

Monday, March 10, at Manhattan's National Arts Club

On Monday evening, March 10, during a black-tie gala to be hosted by an 
institution with a venerable heritage in America's cultural life, the 
Shakespeare Guild will join the English-Speaking Union of New York and 
the National Arts Club in a salute to Patrick Stewart as this year's 
recipient of the Gielgud Award for Excellence in the Dramatic Arts.

The festivities will take place at 15 Gramercy Park South, commencing 
with a reception at 6:30 p.m. Dinner and a sprightly presentation 
ceremony will follow at 7:15. Reservations are available at $250, $500, 
and $1,000, with seating and recognition in the printed program to be 
based on levels of support, and with all but $100 of the price for each 
ticket to be tax-deductible as a charitable donation to the educational 
programs of the sponsoring institutions.

Attendees will be treated to remarks not only by the awardee but by 
British Ambassador Sir Nigel Sheinwald, by 2007 Gielgud laureate Michael 
Kahn (artistic director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company in 
Washington, where Mr. Stewart performed a historic Othello several years 
ago), and by a number of other special guests, among them actor F. 
Murray Abraham (who won an Academy Award as Salieri in Amadeus, and 
whose critically acclaimed Shylock was one of the highlights of the 
Royal's Shakespeare Company's recent Complete Works festival), the 
inimitable Whoopi Goldberg (key panelist on The View, winner of Emmy, 
Grammy, Oscar, and Tony trophies, and frequent guest star on Star Trek: 
The Next Generation), actor Joel Grey (who won a Tony Award and was 
nominated for an Oscar for his stage and film performances in Cabaret), 
stage and screen director David Jones (whose motion pictures include 
Betrayal, Jacknife, and 84 Charing Cross Road, and who recently helped 
unveil a star in honor of Mr. Stewart on Hollywood Boulevard), executive 
Robert Halmi Jr. of RHI Entertainment (the world's leading producer of 
television movies and miniseries, among them A Christmas Carol, King of 
Texas, The Lion in Winter, and Moby Dick, with Mr. Stewart in leading 
roles), and film actor Daniel Stewart (the awardee's gifted son). Also 
featured in the proceedings will be the actress described by New Yorker 
critic John Lahr as "the fine, fierce Kate Fleetwood."

Ms. Fleetwood depicts the protagonist's Lady in a Macbeth that is now 
thrilling audiences at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and will transfer 
to Broadway's Lyceum Theatre for an eight-week run on March 29. This 
brilliant production of the Scottish Play has already won the Evening 
Standard Award and has been nominated for Olivier trophies in five 
categories (among them best actor, best director, and best revival) for 
its recent presentation at the Gielgud Theatre in London. The Olivier 
Award festivities will occur on Sunday, March 9, in Mayfair, so there is 
a distinct possibility that Mr. Stewart will be celebrated in the names 
of two theater immortals -- Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud -- on 
successive evenings.

In his enthusiastic review for the New York Times (Friday, February 15), 
Ben Brantley praises the "fearsome insight and theatrical fire" that Mr. 
Stewart brings to the BAM production of Macbeth, noting that "his 
performance is the first I have seen to realize completely what the 
scholar Harold Bloom means when he calls this play 'a tragedy of the 
imagination.'" Brantley says that Stewart gives us "a Thane of Cawdor 
who has the intellectual richness and ambivalence of the Prince of 
Denmark. That gift may be Macbeth's killing curse, but it's a 
theatergoer's blessing."

Attending the 2008 Gala

Space at the National Arts Club is extremely limited, so those who wish 
to be on hand for this revel should make reservations to do so at their 
earliest convenience. Tickets may be booked either by check or by credit 
card, and orders may be placed either with an e-mail reply to this 
message or with a call to (212) 475-3424 (National Arts Club) or (505) 
988-9560 (Shakespeare Guild). Orders and requests for information may 
also be left on the Guild's Washington number (202) 483-8646.

More details about program participants will be announced shortly. In 
the interim you're invited to take a look at the attached PDF of the 
Guild's printed announcement.

Those who are arranging this event will be delighted to acknowledge as 
Special Partners any organizations, institutions, or individuals who are 
willing to publicize, promote, underwrite, or otherwise assist with what 
everyone expects to be a memorable occasion.

A Few Words About This Year's Awardee

Best known to many admirers for his persona as Captain Jean-Luc Picard 
on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Patrick Stewart has been praised by 
the Guild's inaugural Gielgud recipient, Sir Ian McKellen, as "one of 
the great Shakespearians of our time." In recent years these charismatic 
actors have co-starred in a popular X-Men film series, but their 
associations go back three decades, to when they began working together 
at the Royal Shakespeare Company. They both excelled in major roles 
during the RSC's unprecedented Complete Works cycle in 2005-7, with 
Stewart garnering accolades as the male lead in Antony and Cleopatra and 
as Prospero in The Tempest, and with McKellen starring in a King Lear 
that has placed him in friendly competition with his fellow thespian for 
this spring's most coveted prize in the British theater.

In a profile that appeared Sunday, January 27, in the New York Times, 
reporter Sarah Lyall observes that Patrick Stewart "is in the midst of a 
third act in his unlikely career that brings him full circle: back to 
England and back to the Shakespeare of his youth. And while his earlier 
professional life" in the United Kingdom "was, by his own estimation, 
'very sound but never spectacular,' his new incarnation has been a 
revelation. Critics who sniffed that he had sold out to 'zoom about 
television screens in a preposterous spacesuit' have showered him with 
perhaps the highest compliment they can conjure." Ms. Lyall notes that 
"Mr. Stewart's latest performance, in the title role of Rupert Goold's 
stunningly staged 'Macbeth,' " has "inspired several British newspaper 
critics to pronounce it the 'Macbeth' of a lifetime, the best they have 
ever seen." Not surprisingly, its brief engagement at BAM was completely 
subscribed before it opened.

A native of Yorkshire, Patrick Stewart trained at the Bristol Old Vic 
Theatre School and arrived at Stratford-upon-Avon in 1966, where he 
found himself in the company of such youthful talents as Ben Kingsley 
and Ian Richardson. He debuted on Broadway as Snout in Peter Brook's 
legendary rendering of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Among his other 
memorable roles with the RSC were acclaimed portrayals of Enobarbus in 
Antony and Cleopatra, Leontes in The Winter's Tale, and Shylock in The 
Merchant of Venice.

His television credits prior to the ones for which he is most familiar 
today included Lenin in Fall of Eagles, Sejanus in I, Claudius, Karla in 
Tinker, Tailer, Soldier, Spy, and Claudius in a BBC production of Hamlet 
with Derek Jacobi as the Prince. Mr. Stewart will return to that 
intriguing part a few months hence in a staging by the Royal Shakespeare 
Company.

In 1987, after one of Gene Roddenberry's producers heard him speak at 
UCLA during a tour for an educational association that had been founded, 
with Mr. Stewart's loyal support, by Homer Swander of the University of 
California at Santa Barbara, our awardee signed on for what became a 
multi-year commitment to Star Trek, both as a phenomenally successful TV 
series and as a vehicle for several box-office triumphs at the cinema. 
This led to such varied movie roles as a supercilious maitre 'd in Steve 
Martin's LA Story (1991), as Sterling in Jeffrey (1995), as John in Let 
It Be Me (1995), as Dr. Jonas in Conspiracy Theory (1997), as Captain 
Ahab in Moby Dick (1998), and as Professor Charles Xavier in six X-Men 
features (2000 through 2006). Meanwhile Mr. Stewart continued to earn 
kudos in theatrical hits such as A Christmas Carol, for which he 
depicted every one of Dickens' characters and won a Drama Desk award in 
New York (1992) and an Olivier in London (1994).

Background on the Gielgud Award

Established in 1994 to honor Sir John and perpetuate his legacy, the 
Gielgud Award has taken Guild constituents to such settings as the 
Folger Shakespeare Library and the British Embassy in Washington, 
Lincoln Center and the National Arts Club in New York, and BAFTA, the 
Garrick Club, the Gielgud Theatre, and Middle Temple Hall in London.

Previous recipients of the laurel have included artists like Kenneth 
Branagh, Zoe Caldwell, Dame Judi Dench, Sir Derek Jacobi, Kevin Kline, 
Christopher Plummer, and Lynn Redgrave. They've also featured such 
presenters as Keith Baxter, Brian Bedford, Alan Bennett, Samantha Bond, 
Richard Briers, Helena Bonham Carter, Richard Clifford, John Cleese, 
Patrick Doyle, Ben Elton, Richard Eyre, Clive Francis, Stephen Fry, 
Bernard Gersten, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Adam Gopnik, Sir Peter 
Hall, Marvin Hamlisch, Sir David Hare, Margot Harley, Rosemary Harris, 
Kitty Carlisle Hart, Hal Holbrook, Bob Hoskins, Dana Ivey, Barbara 
Jefford, Barbara Leigh-Hunt, Robert MacNeil, Audra McDonald, Geraldine 
McEwen, Ronald Pickup, Tony Randall, Roger Rees, Dame Diana Rigg, Paul 
Scofield, Sir Donald Sinden, Timothy Spall, and Toby Stephens. For more 
about the Award and about activities such as the Guild's popular 
Speaking of Shakespeare dialogues, see www.esuwdc.org/shakespeare.html.

We look forward to hearing from you, and we'll exceedingly grateful if 
you'd be so kind as to share this information with others who might find 
it of interest.

John F. Andrews, OBE
President, The Shakespeare Guild
Advisory Council, ESU Washington

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