One of my greatest acting heroes is Laurence Olivier. You may ask why, considering I was too young to ever see him on-stage, and there are film stars with more acclaimed performances. But when I first started to take acting seriously, and ravenously watched performances and read books about the subject, I kept finding myself drawn to Olivier’s fierce desire to produce bold performances, to tell stories with great ambition, and to build theatres and companies. While John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson and Alec Guinness of the English knights were marvelous creative actors, they didn’t have Olivier’s ferocious leadership drive and willingness to break the rules. While Marlon Brando had immense pure talent, he doesn’t have Olivier’s keen sense for how everything fits in the story, nor Olivier’s uncynical love of the work. Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole spurned so much of their talent in wayward boozing and brainless movies. I once saw Steven Berkoff give his splendid one-man show about Shakespeare’s Villains, and loved how he described his hatred that Olivier had filmed his mighty performances as Henry V, Hamlet and Richard III, because then essentially it was impossible to better the man who Berkoff called, with pure respect, “The Colossus.” Here are some things that make Olivier such an icon and indeed role model for me.
I recently started watching The West Wing for the first time. It was one of those nights when we didn’t have a show to watch, and flipping through Netflix, we thought, why not just watch one episode of this.
Now 20 episodes later, I’m rather hooked, and delighted there are another half-dozen seasons to watch. Why am I enjoying it so much? Yes, Aaron Sorkin‘s fast-paced dialogue is sharp and delightfully witty, I am completely aligned with its humanist and liberal values and morals, it is fascinating to watch the inner sanctum process of the Oval Office, and Martin Sheen is the Irish-American President I’d be happy to vote for (if this Irishman was an American citizen). And that’s all part of it. But ultimately what keeps me coming back, what makes me gleeful about the show, is that it is essentially, moment-to-moment, a story about camaraderie.
Today’s blog is a very fun one for me, because I will be talking about ten theatre companies around the world that have really inspired me. While I deeply admire the giants like the National in England and the Abbey in Ireland, and of course get a kick out of a fun spectacular on Broadway, I am most attracted to medium-sized theatre companies that develop and present engaging new writing or provide a bold, exciting take on classics and adaptations, and deliver a warm, welcoming experience for their audience.
Today I’m going to try and nail down that very serious and long-standing debate of fans of football and literature: who would make an All-Star Shakespeare Football XI? I’m ready for the fierce and bitter debate that will follow, but here goes:
Based at The Globe Stadium, Forest of Arden, Warwickshire.
Coach: Will “All the players are merely people” Shakespeare.