The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0579  Tuesday, 31 December 2013


From:        John Zuill <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         December 30, 2013 at 5:25:14 PM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Cool Acting


Re: Five Things:


I would not doubt that Rylance was a good Hamlet. I do admire his ability. However, I lately sense a flatness in acting in general, which I note in Rylance as an example of the general trend. Is it me? I can’t tell yet. But acting in almost every context, it seems to me, opts for the stable, lower temperature choice. And not just the classics or just theatre. Film stars like Clooney and Damon make obviously plausible simple choices that are not exertive. As little energy as possible is expended. The becalmed face of Brad Pitt is the epitome of what I am talking about. Ryan Gosling. Judi Dench of Macbeth in her youth is scorching. Could you say that about anything she does now? Again, none of the actors lack ability. . . . But . . . But . . . But. I am reminded of the latitude afforded character parts that a lead may not indulge. It seems everyone plays the lead’s objectivity now days. Look at Rylance and Fry in 12th Night. Very fine performances. But to my taste oddly general. Especially Fry. There is a completeness—the job is finished and dusted—that leaves me without affection for it. There is a stability to acting now days that I notice more and more. Ambiguity is the picked out and masticated. Variance is tolerated only as Baroque oddity. The only energy is in the pointing of irony. And the critics are mob. 


Hell with you lot. I’m off to hear the Ring Cycle on YouTube. 


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