Well we're officially two whole months into 2018. It's gone so fast and has been a super busy but exciting time for me. For various reasons, including auditions, I've been to Liverpool twice, London three times and even to Dublin (blog on that one coming soon). So it has been a colourful eight weeks of culture and new experiences.
Here are my top picks from the last couple of crazy months....
Book: Brutus and Other Heroines; Performing Shakespeare's Roles for Women, Harriet Walter
Introducing probably one of the most thumbed through books on my own book shelf. I stumbled across this little gem when I first experienced the awe of the National Theatre Bookshop a few years back. I left that day feeling very chuffed with myself, albeit about £70 poorer but of all my indulgent purchases on that day, this was the book I'd go on to return to every time I tackled a new Shakespeare play or monologue.
Harriet Walter is still, to this day, enjoying a very successful stage career. Since her younger years, she has played the natural progression of Shakespearean heroines from Ophelia to Helena, Portia to Viola and through to Lady Macbeth,Beatrice and finally Cleopatra, whom Walter describes as 'the pinnacle of the female actor's Shakespearean repertoire'. Depsite such success, the actor was left questioning where next? 'Why didn't Shakespeare write more- and more powerful- roles for mature women?' So she took the next logical step and found that the solution was to begin playing the mature male roles.
Since then, the self identified 'feminist actor' has gone on to play Henry VI in Henry VI, Prospero in The Tempest and Brutus in Julius Caesar, hence the clever title of the collection; Brutus and Other Heroines and really is leading the way for modern actors of the future. A fantastic read showcasing the career of a celebrated Shakespearean actor. I've enjoyed this text as both a straight read and used it as a text book when I have come across the individual characters. It displays a remarkable insight in to the playing of these roles which comes in handy with the understanding for monologues or just for further understanding of the play and I recommend anyone with an interest in Shakespeare to read it, not just female actors!
A extra little recommendation is the 'ME. YOU. A Diary.' Journal by Dawn French. I received it as a Christmas present from my cousin and it is SO ME. Each month has a little introduction by the marvellous Dawn French and some stuff to fill in as well as space for an actual diary. It's a real treat.
Ok, I know this isn't new but it's recently been released on UK Netflix and despite having watched every episode probably in excess of twenty times (I'm not kidding), me and Jacob have started from the beginning again. What's even funnier is that I even have the box set but being way more accessible on a laptop nowadays, my guilty pleasure is right there in a few clicks. It's true classic and I honestly don't think I'll ever tire of Phoebe's kooks and Chandeler's sarcasm. Knowing the punch line for every gag only ever adds to it's charm.
So if you're someone who has been living under a rock since the 90s and has never heard of/seen and episode of Friends (surely there is no-one of this description), sort it out dudes.
Play: Julius Caesar, The Bridge Theatre London
Yes, Julius Caesar again. I think I've started a bit of an unintentional trend to this post...
London is the place to be for anyone with an interest in theatre so it's no wonder anyone with ambition in this industry feels obliged to move down south as soon as they can. As a Northerner, I begrudge it a little but it's so easy to see some fantastic theatre for just a fraction of the price, so when you're down there, it would be rude not to make the most of it.
This was my first pick when I was down for an NYT course this month, a whole week in the city with plenty of opportunities to see some great stuff. I came across day tickets for this production of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar at the Bridge Theatre, a play I've not seen or studied before, with some huge names from stage and screen including Ben Whishaw, Michelle Fairley and David Morissey, for just £15! It seemed like a steal and we assumed we'd be shoved in the back with restricted views or something. However these were titled 'mob tix' which intrigued us further. Turned out we were basically on the stage and it was just bloody mint. The immersive staging meant we were right in the centre of the action from first entering the arena to chants of 'Ceasar, Caesar' and merchandise being sold with the same slogan to being the 'Friends, Romans, countrymen' addressed by Mark Antony at Caesar's funeral. The red caps and posters that were circling when we entered posed a picture not dissimilar to scenes seen across America in the previous election, though I am sure that was entirely what the production was going for.
As well as that, despite being a lover of Shakespeare myself, I'm not one of those boffs who can instantly understand what is going on and passively enjoy the elizabethan language, it takes a great deal of effort to follow a plot especially if I haven't studied the piece before. But on this occasion, the acting was so clear and expressive that after about thirty minutes of watching, I'd almost forgotten about the language and was able to watch without even thinking about it. The action was explosive and the use of limited staging for the battle scenes was excellent. With stand out performances for me being Ben Whishaw's Brutus, Michelle Fairley's Cassius and Adjoa Andoh's Casca , it was a truly striking and memorable adaptation that I recommend anyone London based to go and see AND a treat for us in the rest of the country, its coming to cinemas nationwide as an NT Live Showing on the 22nd March.
Film: The Post
Refer to my previous blog post linked here to see how I ended up in the cinema by myself in London, with less than half a box of popcorn left (I'd spilt it on the floor in my mad goofy post-auditon rush) and crying over how much I love Meryl Streep and to hear about how fab this film is. It kept me on the edge of my seat the entire film, despite my slightly unhinged mental state at the time, but it is a wonderful film and one that I very much recommend.
(It may be a theme, I'm afraid, that Meryl films may often dominate this Culture Club, perhaps I should create a new catagory just for her majesty.)
That's all for this month! Keep me updated with your own recommendations for the March Edition. Stay groovy dudes! x