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Monday, December 16, 2013

Peter O'Toole and Shakespeare


It is very sad news that Peter O'Toole has died.
There is so much I could write about him, but more than anything else I just want to share as many photos of him when he performed Shakespeare.
He was one of the greatest actors in the history of film, and it all started with a career on stage.
And of course, it started with Shakespeare.
It seems that his very first professional role was in King Lear, as Cornwall, at the Bristol Old Vic in 1956.
Two short years later he was cast as Hamlet, pictured here:

Peter O'Toole as Hamlet at the Bristol Old Vic, 1958

Peter Hall recruited him to join the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he played Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew, Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, and Thersites in Troilus and Cressida.
I would love to have seen him as Petruchio. I'm sure he was hilarious.





I have a harder time imagining him as Shylock. But I am sure that he was quite good. 
I found a quote by someone who saw the production: "His Shylock was a man of dignified bearing and diction intensely contrasted to a community of restive, temperamental Christians."




Shortly after that he made Lawrence of Arabia, which brought him world-wide fame.



But then he played Hamlet again, this time for the inaugural performance  at the National Theatre -- and directed by Laurence Olivier!










It must have been a thrilling production. I found a great article from The Guardian that summarizes the reviews from 1963.

Sadly, he did not return to Shakespeare for almost 20 years. He played Macbeth at the Old Vic in 1980.
From what I have read it was a total disaster! 







It is sad to lose such a great actor.
He had a lifelong love of Shakespeare. He claimed to have memorized all of the Sonnets.
I wrote about him last year, when he announced his retirement from acting. He was interviewed on the radio, and he recites Sonnet 130 very beautifully:


Cheers,



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