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Playing Shakespeare [DVD]

Judi Dench , Peggy Ashcroft    Exempt   DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
Price: £17.25 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Playing Shakespeare [DVD] + Playing Shakespeare (Performance Books) + Shakespeare's Advice to the Players
Price For All Three: £44.12

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Product details

  • Actors: Judi Dench, Peggy Ashcroft, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Ben Kingsley
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Acorn Media UK Ltd
  • DVD Release Date: 21 Jun 2010
  • Run Time: 450 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003EQ4YFO
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 16,300 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

A series of Shakespeare masterclasses filmed for television in 1982, featuring some of the finest actors from the Royal Shakespeare Company, including Judi Dench, Peggy Ashcroft, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Ben Kingsley and Sinead Cusack.

Product Description

Accesssible for anyone with an interest in Shakespeare, students and seasoned theatregoers alike, this is a rare opportunity to see the finest actors of their time - including Judi Dench, Ben Kingsley, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart and more - work in a series of masterclasses filmed for television, on the intricacies and balances of Playing Shakespeare. In 1982, John Barton, Associate Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, gathered many of the finest British actors of their generation in one rehearsal room. Their aim was to grapple with the work of Shakespeare - to wrestle with its meaning, its poetry, its language. To examine the way that sentences are constructed so as to guide the actor. The way in which the drama of the written word is best conveyed to an audience. It makes for a gripping, insightful and powerful work of theatre in its own right - harnessing the expertise of this master of Shakespeare's work at the height of his craft, inviting the viewer into this intimate and exposing space as he works with the living instruments that will bring these works to life. The results are unforgettable. And whether you are an actor or a member of the audience, the lessons to be learned will change the way you practice or experience Shakespeare's work.

Customer Reviews

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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars John Barton on Shakespeare 26 Sep 2011
I first saw this programme by accident while studying Shakespeare and it was a revelation, seeing a different way of performing his plays with a much greater emphasis on the language. John Barton's 1982 series involved many of the names which now head cast lists - Judi Dench, Ben Kingsley, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, David Suchet, Donald Sinden - the list goes on.

When I accidentally saw the programme, the first actor I saw was Kevin Cline performing Hamlet's famous speech and he seemed to do it to perfection. Barton thought otherwise although everything he said was positive as he gave Cline fresh approaches to the familiar lines. The next performance was so different it amazed line and the assembled group. Barton does not look like someone who should be giving masterclasses, dressed as he usually is in an ill-fitting jumper, two sizes too big, with pockets used to carrying the complete works. He obviously does not care and, after a few minutes, viewers will not either.

It is recommended to anyone with a serious interest in reading or performing Shakespeare. It is not light viewing; the actors and Barton are seriously exploring ways to perform the plays, looking for sophisticated nuances and subtle differences in how to say these famous lines.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Acting under the microscope 9 Nov 2010
Love Shakespeare and you'll love this series. Although just occasionally John Barton
imposes his view on actors who (in my opinion) are easily capable of interpreting the text themselves. Barton is a Shakespeare afficionado extraordinaire and his work with the actors reveals and expresses every nuance and inflection of Shakespere's verse. His exposition of the King Lear speech, 'Blow winds, and crack your cheeks' finally makes the rant bearable. His examples of how gentleness compells more than going all-out on a text, are a relevation

Judy Dench is staggering and it is no mystery why she is the grande dame of UK theatre
today. But then so are Ian McKellan, David Suchet and Ben Kinsley. Their renditions
of the speeches are insightful, compelling, moving and memorable. Indeed all the actors in the Ensemble are outstanding. In the end I preferred listening to them than to Barton.
But you can't have one without the other.

Anyone who wants a dose of Shakespeare in depth should see this series. It is intelligent, insightful and marvellous to listen to and to watch. You will also come to realise just how serious, committed and hard-working these actors are. There is nothing diletante or superficial, they get to the heart of the speeches and peel back the verse to show every
possible interpretation of it.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the wait 18 Jun 2010
I have wanted to get hold of a copy of this fantastic series since 1982 when it was first broadcast and I am certainly not disappointed now that I have had the chance to watch it again. An absolute must for anyone studying or with an interest in Shakespeare. The enigmatic John Barton holds an acting masterclass with some of the finest young actors of the time - most of them have gone on to become huge names in both the theatre and on screen:- Judi Dench, Ben Kingsley, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, David Suchet, Donald Sinden - the list goes on.

Compulsive, compelling viewing - an utter classic TV series.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent tool and great entertainment 11 July 2011
Very, very happy with this. A friend had posted me a YouTube link to a clip from the series, and it had interested me because I am involved with quite a lot of drama at university.

With that in mind, the 9 episodes are all excellent tools for gaining a brilliant grounding for some difficult problems in acting. Actually seeing how professional (let alone legendary) actors and John Barton directing is much more illuminating than any book. At the same time, the episodes are lively, funny, interesting and arresting. I particularly enjoyed getting to know the different actors and their styles, and seeing them play off one another.

My only wish is that there were more of it! But worth every penny and it comes with my great recommendations.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Average transfer but fantastic series 6 May 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
As this is a product review, I feel that I must mention the quality of the transfer. Admittedly, this was filmed for TV thirty years ago and so one can't expect the quality to be pristine, but a little digital remastering would have been nice, considering the importance of this series. There are no subtitles but lines are frequently shown on screen as spoken to illustrate a point, so the lack of subtitles is not too frustrating. Special features are limited to biographies. A making-of or retrospective documentary might have been nice but the material speaks for itself.

Playing Shakespeare is a collection of 9 filmed workshops at the RSC, led by co-founder John Barton. His disciples are all professional actors- you'll see many a famous face, from Patrick Stewart to Judi Dench to Peggy Ashcroft in the last episode.
The acting advice John Barton gives is simple but vital. The difference it makes in the quality of the performances of the actors is infinite. His focus on the text and the nuances of each word may seem unfashionable now when interpretation and subversion seem to be the main goal, yet it makes long, often dull speeches (like the Bishop of Canterbury's one in Henry V) seem exciting and accessible. Barton is very picky but the actors are always humble and even challenge him on some points, which he rightly accepts.

What I really love about the series, apart from some brilliant pieces of acting, as in the final scene of The Winter's Tale, is the metatheatrical quality of it. The filming emphasises the artificiality- we see mics swinging over, the cameras switching. The "set" is a ramshackle studio and the actors are often playing scenes to a rug. It's a mix of rehearsed reading and performing, all led by Barton, who is not a posturing luvvie.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 4 days ago by marioss
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
John Barton for King - absolute barmy genius. Would give Stevy Fry a run for his potatoes
Published 12 days ago by Peter J. C. Roberts
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 months ago by ms Patricia Orme
5.0 out of 5 stars First produced in 1982, it endures.
For anyone who loves seeing Shakespeare plays and wonders about the techniques involved in making his work intelligible and compelling to a modern audience, this is a chance to see... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Dr P Lemon
4.0 out of 5 stars Still useful today
I used this DVD collection while preparing for a role in Henry V and I was struggling with the language. Read more
Published 12 months ago by S. Flowers
5.0 out of 5 stars cd
any one who is studying shakespeare should watch it :) BUY it :D i recommend it :) its very good
Published 14 months ago by Rackel C
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better than expected
I was preparing a monologue from the Merchant of Venice as an assignment for the theatre course i'm attending at the moment. Read more
Published on 25 Dec 2011 by daniela quaglia
4.0 out of 5 stars rapid delivery, right products.
I have bought this videos for someone else, so I cannot give opinion on the videos itself. But I can tell the order came very quickly and it was exactly what I ordered.
Published on 19 Aug 2011 by santa
Published on 3 Oct 2010 by C.ZIG
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