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Exit Pursued by a Badger: An Actor's Journey Through History with Shakespeare [Paperback]

Michael Boyd , Nick Asbury
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
Price: 14.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

22 Jun 2009
Nick Asbury was in the ensemble from the Royal Shakespeare Company who, over the course of two and a half years, performed eight history plays by Shakespeare in repertory, beginning with the overthrow of Richard II and ending with the death of Richard III: a sequence of productions both critically acclaimed and watched by over 250,000 people. To keep a record of his involvement in this extraordinary and ambitious project, Nick wrote a Blog which was posted on the RSC website. This in turn became a massive success, regularly notching up 6,000 hits a week from avid followers around the world. Through Nick's engaging, observant, often hilarious words, we experience the camaraderie of actors, the terror of forgetting lines, technical difficulties, money problems, finding strange things in the bath, 33 broadsword fights and, and, of course, the ever-present threat of being assaulted by demented badgers after a performance.

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Exit Pursued by a Badger: An Actor's Journey Through History with Shakespeare + Something Written in the State of Denmark: An Actor's Year with the Royal Shakespeare Company + Covering McKellen: An Understudy's Tale
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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Oberon Books Ltd; 1st edition (22 Jun 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1840028920
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840028928
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 13.9 x 21.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 465,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Playing the Histories 22 July 2009
In 1965 the BBC televised The Wars of the Roses, a previous epic cycle of Shakespeare's history plays at the RSC, and the English Shakespeare Company's cycle of the late 1980s was also recorded (using the same title). This time, disgracefully, no TV channel or film company saw fit to record this extraordinary event for broadcast and for posterity. So congratulations should go to Oberon Books for publishing Nick Asbury's wonderfully vivid blog of his participation in the plays as at least one record of an event which Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph described as "so many extraordinary words, so much outstanding acting, such an epic vision from the greatest writer the world has ever known, and, four centuries on, from the company that dedicates itself to his work".

Nick Asbury is a born diarist and chronicles his experience passionately, wittily and at times very movingly, especially when relating events in his and other company members' personal lives to the themes Shakespeare explored himself. There is much humour too - among many unforgettable hilarious episodes, one of my favourites is when Lex Shrapnel, a terrifically fiery Hotspur who is supposed to hurl his gauntlet aggressively at Aumerle (Jimmy Tucker) in Richard II, in one performance let go too soon, resulting in the glove sailing in the wrong direction across the stage, reducing Nick to corpsing uncontrollably with the others just about holding on until they got off stage!

The book contains a long newly written introduction by Nick covering the events leading up to the point at which the blog starts, and also includes a number of responses to the blog which show the impact this theatrical experience had on many of the members of its audience.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A blog compilation 20 July 2009
By Ripple TOP 100 REVIEWER
This is a difficult book to review. Nick Asbury was one of the terrific cast involved in the RSC's epic Histories cycle. If you saw these productions, inevitably you will find this book more interesting - I did and loved the book. BUT while the introduction is an interesting insight into the decision to become involved and what it involved, the bulk of the book is a collection if Asbury's blog entries published on the RSC's web site. And thereby hangs the difficulty.

Firstly, the blog was only started half way through the cycle - so you don't even get a full picture of the task. Secondly, while it is fascinating to read the day to day problems and joys of a working actor working on such a monumental task, and while Asbury is a very good writer, the nature of a blog is very different from a book and I'm in two minds as to the extent to which this works - particularly as general interest for anyone interested in acting that perhaps did not see the plays. A book is a more permanent record and requires a different style to the blog style.

The book also contains some nice, albelit relatively small, production pictures as well.

Asbury has provided a good insight within this context - but I finished the book hoping that one day he decides to sit down and write of his experiences in a more conventional book style. The excellent introduction chapter proves that he is an excellent writer, but I think a collection of blog entries has limited appeal. This is not a criticism in any way of the author, but rather the nature of the project itself.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic book on acting and life 16 July 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Like Anthony Sher's Year of the King, Simon Callow's Being an Actor and Michael Simkin's What's My Motivation? - this is an absolute gem of a book about the life of an actor, and life in general.

Nick Asbury was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company when they set out on the, frankly, ludicrous task of performing all eight of Shakespeare's history plays with the same company of actors. His blogs throughout the process form the spine of the book but it is so much more than simply a book about acting or about those show's in particular.

Nick writes with passion, honesty, humour and, above all, heart about the much maligned business of 'shouting in the evenings' and the resulting book is an absolute joy to read. Cutting through the luvvy nonsense and egos and guff, Nick recounts the amazing and unique experience the company went through with fabulous clarity and joy.

A book for anyone interested in acting, theatre, Shakespeare and life. Can't recommend it highly enough.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Histories shared 15 Aug 2010
The Royal Shakespeare Company's 'Histories Ensemble' made a point of connecting with its audience. The plays were as much about the audience as they were about the actors who were performing on-stage and Nick Asbury's 'Exit Pursued by a Badger' immortalises this connection. Asbury's book, like the original blog on the RSC website from which the book stems, provides a wonderful insight into what in the foreword RSC Artistic Director Michael Boyd calls "the belly of The Histories". For those who saw the plays in Stratford or London this book provides a wonderfully tangible reminder of a project that after the final curtain call was resigned to exist merely in the memories of its audience. The book is full of stories of on and off-stage life as well as including a large number of high-quality colour photographs which will ensure that the memories of those who saw the plays will not fade.

However Asbury's open and engaging prose means that this book is not merely a nostalgic memento for those who experienced The Histories but welcomes those whose first encounter with The Histories, the RSC, or indeed Shakespeare himself is through picking up this book.

What is perhaps most memorable about 'Exit Pursued by a Badger' is Asbury's willingness to write not just an open and engaging memoir about his time with the Royal Shakespeare Company, but also to write of the trials and tribulations of life as an actor, the complexities of Shakespeare and, perhaps most notably of all, being attacked by badgers.
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