Book excerpt: Judi Dench's love letter to Shakespeare

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In "Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays nan Rent" (Macmillan), nan acclaimed character Judi Dench shares conversations pinch friend and character Brendan O'Hea astir nan unsocial narration she has pinch nan Bard of Stratford-upon-Avon.

Read an excerpt below.

"Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays nan Rent"

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You've had a very agelong relation pinch Stratford-upon-Avon. When did you first visit?

My parents took maine location successful 1953, erstwhile I was eighteen years old, to spot Michael Redgrave arsenic King Lear, and I had 1 of those Damascene moments. Up until then, I had ever dreamed of being a theatre designer, but erstwhile I saw Robert Colquhoun's Lear set, I realised that I would ne'er beryllium capable to travel up pinch thing arsenic imaginative. It was truthful spare and cleanable – it looked for illustration a awesome large poppadom, pinch a ample stone successful nan middle, which, erstwhile it turned, could uncover nan throne, a furniture aliases a cave. Nothing was held up for a segment change– it was each location successful beforehand of you, for illustration a container of tricks waiting to beryllium unveiled.

We stayed overnight successful Stratford and nan pursuing day my parents and I sat crossed from nan theatre connected nan different broadside of nan river. It was nan summertime and nan theatre doors and windows were each open, and we heard nan matinee complete nan tannoy and watched nan actors moving up and down nan stairs to their dressing rooms. Little did I cognize that wrong 10 years I'd beryllium stepping connected to that shape to play Titania.

There's a saying amongst actors that you spell to activity successful Stratford either to decorativeness a narration aliases to commencement one. Is that true?

I tin attest to that – it's a very romanticist place, pinch its ain ecosystem. And surely successful nan early days, pinch nan mediocre carrier links, it felt very trim off. All nan actors are distant from home, moving difficult and playing hard.

Where did you unrecorded erstwhile you were there?

Scholar's Lane, Chapel Lane, each complete nan place. And past I met Mikey [Michael Williams] and we joined and years later we decided to bargain a location successful Charlecote, which is conscionable extracurricular Stratford. We invited my mother (who was widowed by then) and Mikey's parents to travel and unrecorded pinch us, which they jumped at. It had ever been my dream to unrecorded successful a organization – that's a Quaker principle, of people – truthful it worked retired very well.

I retrieve Mikey and I were driving location 1 nighttime from nan theatre on Hampton Lucy Lane, and we recovered a young cervid wandering nan road, disorientated, and we stopped nan car and managed to coax it backmost into Charlecote Park. But nan constabulary appeared connected our doorstep nan adjacent morning, because apparently personification had spotted america and thought we were trying to bargain it. (That's nan nonstop aforesaid spot wherever Shakespeare was caught poaching, I believe.) We explained that we weren't taking him out, we were putting him backmost in, and luckily they fto america disconnected nan hook.

Whenever I get nan chance I still sojourn Charlecote. We lived location for 10 years and Fint [Judi's girl Finty Williams] grew up there. And Michael is buried successful nan grounds of nan small church.

From "Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays nan Rent," by Judi Dench and Brendan O'Hea.  Copyright © 2024 by nan authors, and reprinted pinch support of St. Martin's Press.

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  • "Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays nan Rent" by Judi Dench and Brendan O'Hea (Macmillan), successful Hardcover, eBook and Audio formats

  • Shakespeare