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Acting Shakespeare


List Price: CDN$ 29.99
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Acting Shakespeare + Playing Shakespeare
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Product Details

  • Actors: Ian McKellen
  • Directors: Kirk Browning
  • Writers: Ian McKellen, William Shakespeare
  • Producers: Andrew Susskind, David Susskind, Ricki Green
  • Format: Color, DVD-Video, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Studio: eOne Films
  • Release Date: Jan. 12 2010
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002SF9YMU
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #16,784 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bruggadung on Jan. 2 2014
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I have used an old VHS copy of this show to help introduce Shakespeare to high school students for the past 20 years... I have now entered the new century by updating to a DVD copy. The students know Ian McKellen as Gandalf from 'The Lord of the Rings' and 'The Hobbit' trilogies, but he is in his guise here of a gifted Shakespearean actor of the Royal Shakespeare Company giving his insights into acting Shakespearean roles and the ways in which Shakespeare can still communicate with the modern world. To anyone who is interested in Shakespeare, the acting process, and especially to any teachers unaware of this show, I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Maxisback TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 14 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
An excellent DVD of a fantastic one-man performance of Shakespeare works by a master of his craft!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By flamenca on May 19 2011
Format: DVD
I think they may have trimmed my two very favourite minutes from the version shown on TVO a million years ago, but it is an utter pleasure to have this one man show in my wonky little collection of obscure and interesting videos. It's great for when you want something which combines a bit of challenge, a lot of fun - and a comparatively short running time
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 32 reviews
79 of 80 people found the following review helpful
Perfect Shakespeare Nov. 19 2009
By Staci L. Gieber - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I saw this video in my high school British Lit. class in 1986 and was mesmerized. I was not a particular fan of Shakespeare at the time, was in fact one of those kids who found Shakespeare mostly boring and irrelevant, but this turned me on to all that Shakespeare can be and why he has remained popular for so long. I have been a huge fan of Ian McKellan ever since; he is superb in this. I have been looking for this video for years, checking McKellan's website, ebay and everywhere I could think of, so I was so excited when I googled the title today, and found it on Amazon! I cannot recommend McKellan's _Acting Shakespeare_ highly enough. It remains, in my memory, the best theatre -- Shakespeare or otherwise -- that I have ever seen. It is just Ian McKellan on a bare stage, no props or costumes as far as I remember, performing monologues from several Shakespearian plays and commenting on the plays and characters and how he approaches them. The simplicity is perhaps part of what makes this so beautifully done. As it hasn't been released yet, I cannot comment on the technical quality of the sound or video. My hope is that the reason they took so long to release it is because they were picky about getting the audio and video quality right. Anyway, it is superb.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Better than remembered Feb. 15 2010
By Cheryl Toliver - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I first saw Ian McKellen's 'Acting Shakespeare' on PBS some 24-25 years ago and loved it for how he made Shakespeare's words come alive with new meaning. I then saw him perform it live in San Francisco in 1987 and have longed to see it again ever since. Viewing this DVD brought back these memories, but was also surprising - the performance is even better than I remembered it and has awakened even more meaning in Shakespeare's words for me.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
The Real Thing June 11 2010
By PDC - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Re. the comments by Krupa concerning the 'Macbeth' section of 'Acting Shakespeare', it should be noted that McKellen's ACTUAL full stage performance of 'MacBeth' -- far superior to the excerpts in his mostly terrific one-man show -- is itself available on DVD through Amazon, and here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/Macbeth-McKellen-Thames-Shakespeare-Collection/dp/B0002TVWYW/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1276308261&sr=1-2

This is the great (1978) Royal Shakespeare Company production directed by Trevor Nunn, with a thrillingly brilliant performance by McKellen in the title role, and also featuring an unforgettable performance by Judi Dench as Lady Macbeth. It's as close as I've ever seen anyone come to a definitive production of the play. And, needless to say, I can't recommend it highly enough to any admirer of Shakespeare or Mr. McKellen (or Ms. Dench).

As an interesting side-note, Laurence Olivier did a legendary stage 'Macbeth' as well, but his by-all-accounts magnificent performance (listed by countless critics, theatre historians, and fellow actors as one of his very finest) is sadly lost to the ages because Olivier was unable raise the requisite funding to make a once-planned film version of it. Hard to believe, eh, with all the mediocre and mindless cinema that HAS been funded over the years?!
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Kings, Villians and Lovers: A Masterful One-Man Show March 21 2010
By Cat - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
In many a theater class, I've often felt saddened when I would watch a well-delivered monologue or scene from fellow actors, knowing they would never been seen again. It's bitter-sweet to witness a moment of brilliance but never be able to describe it or ever see it duplicated. Actors are on an endless pursuit to understand the meaning of what they speak and to find the right actions for the words. Especially with Shakespeare's works, an actor may spend months with one monologue but after all his effort, still not understand how to speak the words. Even great actors like Ian McKellen have had to disect Shakespeare's text in order to understand what is going on in the scene. He was part of John Barton's "Playing Shakespeare" workshop that shows the actor at a very basic level, how to technically approach Shakespeare just by analysing the text. I'm of the opinion Sir McKellen was born great, but his understanding of Shakespeare took time and fortunately for us, the culmination of his years dedicated to mastering the words have been preserved. McKellen embarks on his one-man Shakespeare show by performing several monologues on a bare stage, weaving them together expertly, and peppered with anecdotes about Shakespeare's life. I'm rather fond of Richard III and his performance of the disfigured tyrant was an absolute gift. It's not necessary to have read any of the plays to fully appreciate this performance. McKellen has done the work; all we need to do is listen.
22 of 28 people found the following review helpful
And I Wish I Could Give It Five Stars... Feb. 28 2010
By Krupa - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
First, let me say that there's essentially nothing wrong with this DVD. It offers to the viewer dramatic work by a truly great actor doing something he does exceptionally well: acting Shakespeare. And in this, McKellen delivers splendidly. In soliloquy after soliloquy and character after character, he shows his true passion for Shakespeare's art, and in a way that justifies his solid reputation as a major classical actor of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

But...I gotta tell ya...I have a problem with this DVD, which affects my opinion of it in a very personal way.

So...take what I'm about to say with a healthy grain of salt, okay?

You see, I saw Sir Ian perform this show live in 1987 in Boston. And I can tell every reader that when he performed the "Macbeth" segments toward the end, it was nothing short of jaw-dropping, frightening. Almost unbelievable.

Here, in this taped 1982 broadcast, he does a masterful job, to be sure (I just watched it tonight). But for some years now I've been aware that this show had been taped in 1982, and I had searched the Internet for it. And for years I found that it was unavailable on DVD and VHS. And I hoped that it would someday be released on DVD. Because I hoped that the level of intensity he gave to those final minutes of "Macbeth" would have been in his performance here. I remember that, between speeches, his Macbeth rotated very slowly, clicking his shoes on the stage, in small and claustrophobic circles, the character gradually imploding, and moaning like a lost ghost. By the end of the great "tomorrow and tomorrow" speech, when he arrived at the line "a tale told by an idiot," the great actor was deliberately slurring the words a bit so as to sound idiotic. That may look humorous in print, but it was frightening to watch and to hear. By "signifying nothing" his sharp eyes were gaping, the pale skin of his face stretching, and he was nearly unintelligible. After the final word, he drew in two great, slow, tormented gasps of breath, as if to show Macbeth suffocating on his nihilism. And the man had every one of us audience members in the very palm of his hand. Utter silence...until the explosion of applause. It was the most electrifying moment of live theater I've ever experienced. I've never forgotten that singular piece of great acting, and it affected me deeply in my own pursuits as a young actor.

So when this DVD came out recently, I ordered it. And alas...his Macbeth fell short of the once-in-a-lifetime moment I experienced live. Great as it is on the DVD, it's just not at the same level. Sir Ian obviously enfleshed the performance with new and brilliant ideas in the five years between the 1982 broadcast and the US tour, perhaps in order to make it even more the piece de resistance, the climax to the show, at that time. The audience on the 1982 DVD applauds him appreciatively and enthusiastically. The 1987 Charles Playhouse audience that I was fortunate enough to be a part of almost blew the roof off the place.

So you can understand that, after patiently waiting -- FOR TWENTY-THREE YEARS!! -- to actually have a chance to experience again the magic moment that I found so special back then, to see it lacking the original fire was a major disappointment.

Wow...glad I got that out of my system. So...amidst all this self-absorbed complaining, what's my review?

Well, if you love Shakespeare or are interested in his work, or if you can say the same for Ian McKellen, DON'T LET MY ANNOYING WHINING DETER YOU! Do check this DVD out! For it does offer a veritable goldmine of wonderful McKellen interpretations of some of Shakespeare's greatest dramatic moments and characters: Richard III...Henry V...Falstaff...Romeo and Juliet...Hamlet...and much more! It delivers as advertised.

As for me...I'll try to be content that I saw this show in an another incarnation once upon a time...and that the best of the performance must remain gratefully in my memory, and I hope, in the memories of those who were there for that Sunday matinee.

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