Year of the Fat Knight: The Falstaff Diaries
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Year of the Fat Knight is legendary stage actor Sir Antony Sher's account—splendidly supplemented by his own paintings and sketches—of researching, rehearsing, and performing one of Shakespeare's most iconic characters for a 2014 Royal Shakespeare Company production. This follow-up to Sher's 1985 classic Year of the King is a terrific read, rich in humor and excitement, that also stands as a celebration of the craft of character acting.
affair is quaint and slow, essentially English, and rather touching. In today’s bright sunshine, there we all were, dressed in our smart clothes, some with hats and sunglasses, chatting about this and that as we strolled along to the bands’ tunes, participating in a little country-town ritual, which happens to be honouring one of the most universally famous figures of all time. The big lunch is next, but this has become a problem. There are so many speeches and toasts that the meal has been
spectators. Though not as many as expected: the vast stadium was only two-thirds full. Maybe because of the torrential rain. Which is a good sign in African culture; one man said, ‘The gates of heaven have opened for Nelson Mandela.’ The biggest ovation was for Obama, and the worst booing for Zuma – which must have been quite a humiliation on this world stage. But it delighted his opponents. The ANC veteran Ronnie Kasrils was grinning as he said, ‘The populace has spoken – it is truly
first scene, I launch in with a voice that has gradually developed since that day when I pieced together his past: a bit posh, a bit fruity, a bit fatty. People begin to respond well – with laughter – but what about Greg? This must be a big moment for him too. Whatever he might’ve said to the contrary, he went out on a limb when he cast me in this part. He’s put his money down, as it were, and today he finally gets a glimpse of the goods. What if he doesn’t like them? At the end, he compliments
until now, we’ve just been tumbling on in one big free-for-all), and then, like at the end of each of these sessions, he asked us to summarise the main changes we’re putting in this evening. Otherwise, these can surprise you in performance, trip you up. Ciss sits at the back during these afternoon sessions. She sees all the previews and even came to the tech. It’s a marvellous thing. While other people of her age (eighty-eight) would be going to their bridge club or game of bowls, she is simply
stage: a shadowy, blue-lit area which is locked in permanent night-time. On floor level, it is crowded with prop cupboards, prop tables, stage furniture and chairs just for sitting. But a few metres higher it becomes an empty, incredibly tall space, reaching all the way up to the flies, where pieces of set and lighting bars are suspended. The wing is populated by dozens of people dressed in three different ways: some (the actors) are in costume, many more (stage crew, stage managers, dressers and