The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0256 Monday, 5 May 2008
From: Al Magary <
Date: Friday, 02 May 2008 15:15:25 -0700
Subject: Mark Rylance Profiled in The New Yorker
[Editor's Note: A few years ago, a SHAKSPER member saw "I am
Shakespeare" and wrote me that "During one of the main character's rants
against the 'stiffling of proper debate' by the Stratfordians he notes
that 'A World wide major Shakespeare blog even disallows the discussion
of the authorship question'." This note is published for the information
of SHAKSPER members. It is not an invitation to discuss authorship
matters and any attempts to do so will be ignored. -Hardy]
The New Yorker of 5/5 has a profile of Mark Rylance, Shakespearean actor
and founding director (1997-2005) of the Globe. He was lately in the
West End revival of the French farce "Boeing-Boeing" and will reprise
the role on Broadway. He plays Sir Thomas Boleyn in the recent movie
"The Other Boleyn Girl" (ie, Mary). The article, by Cynthia Zarin, isn't
online, so here are some snippets.
Rylance's visibility in the debate over the plays' authorship also posed
problems for him in his role as director of the Globe. In the British
theatre world, he is regarded as an actor whose affinity for
Shakespeare's works is unparalleled; it is disconcerting to some that he
could persist in doubting that William Shakespeare wrote the plays. The
question is considered ludicrous by many scholars. [The article quotes
Stephen Greenblatt and James Shapiro.] . . . This past summer, at the
Chichester Festival, Rylance had the lead role in a play that he wrote,
"I Am Shakespeare," in which a cranky obsessive hosts a Webcam chat show
with alternative candidates--Francis Bacon, the Earl of Oxford, Lady
Mary Sidney--as guests . . .
"The plays [said Rylance] were written to be heard, not read. When Ben
Jonson published his first folio [in 1616], he was considered uppity for
imagining that his plays were worthy of consideration. They were
sketches for a whorehouse. You have to imagine Shakespeare's plays being
written between strippers carrying on." . . .
"One of the things I learned as an actor [at RADA and the Chrysalis
Theatre School] was how to hear," Rylance said. "It was a revelation. I
spent hours throwing words, as if they were boats, into a stream . . . I
was reading the other day how Yeats said he worked his whole life to
make poems that could be heard. When I began to play Shakespeare, the
words were easier for me to speak than my own language. It always made
sense to me." . . .
[Rylance and his wife, Claire van Kampen, who was the Globe's music
director] live in a nineteenth-century house in Brixton, on Shakespeare
Road. "We used to live over a betting shop," Rylance told me. "I said,
'Find a house on Shakespeare Road and we'll move.' And she did." . . .
While acting in Stratford-on-Avon, Rylance began to think about the
authorship question. "I used to walk a lot at night, after the theatre.
I was a Stratfordian. . . I wasn't that curious about it. I thought we
were acting the plays where he'd lived. It really crept up on me; after
a month or so, Shakespeare looked different to me. He looked like
Francis Bacon: he was wise, he was witty, and he was private and
secretive about the plays. He stood back from his characters and let
them speak." . . .
I asked Rylance what the question meant to him as an actor. He said, "I
accept that there isn't enough evidence, that it's an open question, but
the not knowing means I'm not backed into a corner." . . .
[When the Globe opened] the involvement of the audience--often raucous,
spellbound, and confrontational--meant that, from the start, the Globe
was viewed by a faction of the British critical establishment as a
sideshow; there were actors and directors who would not work there.
Throughout Rylance's tenure, the Globe contended with accusations that
the entire enterprise was simply a tourist attraction . . .
[Current Globe artistic director] Dominic Dromgoole told me, "Initially,
I'd been part of the prejudice against the Globe. I thought, It's going
to be Disneyland. . . . But then I came to see 'Measure for Measure,' in
2004, and it blew me away. It was so intelligent. It was funny and alive
and concrete. It had a physical life. It was full of grace and charity.
What I thought was a theatre of the past became a theatre of the
future." . . .
Whenever [Rylance] arrives at the Globe now, he is a cynosure; many
people who worked with him have remained. . . Rylance thinks that he may
return to the Globe as an actor, but he feels that it's too soon--for
him and for Dromgoole.
After the actors left, Rylance began roaming the stage in the half-dark
. . . At the edge, in the middle of the proscenium, he said to me,
"Stand here." I took his place, and then he said, "Speak. Try it." I
spoke, and the sound seemed to vibrate, coming up through me feet.
He was delighted. "You heard it! The Globe made me really aware of
space . . . The Globe introduced magic again, but I never felt the
artistic community embrace it . . ."
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>
DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.