If you’re a Shakespeare fan (i.e.: you speak English) and you haven’t ever heard of this before, I’ve probably just altered your holiday gift request list.
“Playing Shakespeare” is a master-class about: performing Shakespeare! It was shot back in 1982, with John Barton (who appears to be stuck in 1972) and elements of the Royal Shakespeare Company. It’s shot in some backstage area and it’s just the actors jamming with roles that Barton throws at them. There are familiar faces: Judi Dench, Patrick Stewart, Ben Kingsley, Ian McKellen, David Suchet, Lisa Harrow, Alan Howard…
I’m not interested in playing in any more Shakespeare plays (I was Lysander in a high school production of “Midsummer Night’s Dream”) but it’s just great fun to watch really good actors talking about their craft.
Here, a very, Ian McKellen sort of Ian McKellen does a couple run-throughs of a line:
The whole show is pretty much nothing but that sort of Shakespeary goodness. Every time I watch any of it, I wish I could make something similar, that’d be a directing class for summer blockbuster directors.
Barton: “And now: explosions.”
Michael Bay: “Before the car chase or after?”
Barton: “It’s all one big car chase, so maybe during the closing credits.”
Michael Bay: “How about during the entire car chase?”
It even has a slightly overlong skit in which Stephen Fry parodies a Shakespearean acting coach, at Hugh Laurie.
Amazon: Playing Shakespeare (DVD set)