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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Paterson Joseph

In The Guardian's Shakespeare and Me series, the actor Paterson Joseph, seen recently in Henry V, has some interesting things to say:

click here for article 

He was a very quiet young man, and when he auditioned for the role of Shylock at the age of 14, it opened him up.

I would love to know more about this. The Merchant of Venice is my favorite, and it was the one that unlocked Shakespeare for me. I am reading a book right now that makes the case that of all the characters in all the plays, the character of Shylock is the voice of Shakespeare himself. I will review the book soon, but I am not at all surprised to think that Shakespeare wrote himself into Shylock.

I wonder in what way Shylock spoke to Paterson as a young man. Shylock is the outsider in the play, the alien, and yet he is allowed (up to and including the trial) to speak as freely as he wants. I would imagine that for a young man who has not yet found his voice, and feels like a stranger and outcast (like many teenagers do) this character must have been very inspiring.

There is also a courage in Shylock that, despite the fact that he loses his case and is punished, is very appealing. He shows no fear really, and he stands his ground. He has the strength of his convictions and he goes down fighting.

This is also funny to me because I had the opposite experience. By the age of 13 I was not a quiet young boy, and my teacher taught me a lesson by casting me (no auditions) as Ebenezer Scrooge in a school play. If I was so talkative, then surely I would love to memorize all of those lines and be the center of the play!

During the performance I forgot some lines, and was mortified, in front of all my friends.

Yes, I got the point. I learned my lesson.

I also like what Paterson says about Shakespeare as an actor. I think that this is overlooked very often. Shakespeare wrote for the stage he acted on, and I like to think that before he was a writer, he learned how to act.