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Acting Shakespeare

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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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
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Studio: Koch
  • Release Date: Jan. 12 2010
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B002SF9YMU
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #38,188 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Acting Shakespeare

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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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An excellent DVD of a fantastic one-man performance of Shakespeare works by a master of his craft!
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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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Very interesting. He was quitebyoung when hebmade this one man show.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa709feac) out of 5 stars 39 reviews
89 of 90 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa65f490c) out of 5 stars Perfect Shakespeare Nov. 19 2009
By Staci L. Gieber - Published on
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.
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa65f4b58) out of 5 stars Better than remembered Feb. 15 2010
By Cheryl Toliver - Published on
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.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa65f4b1c) out of 5 stars The Real Thing June 11 2010
By PDC - Published on
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:

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?!
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa65f4e10) out of 5 stars Kings, Villians and Lovers: A Masterful One-Man Show March 21 2010
By Cat - Published on
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.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa65f4e70) out of 5 stars Jeux d'Esprit May 22 2011
By C. C. Black - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
A delightful recital by one of our generation's finest Shakespearean interpreters. Inevitably, McKellen's "Acting Shakespeare" invites comparisons with John Gielgud's "Ages of Man"; though both are live performances with minimalist staging, they are quite different in approach, each with its distinctive merits. Where Gielgud exudes gravitas, McKellan is more sprightly, taking the audience into his confidence. Not only in length but in depth, Gielgud presents much more verse, much less commentary; McKellen selects fewer readings, adding more personal narrative as connective tissue for the declamatory gems. As the Brits like to say, what you gain on the swings you lose on the roundabouts. If you love the Bard, both are well worth purchasing and enjoying frequently. For younger audiences McKellan's is probably the better bet: he himself was younger when this was produced, and kids will likely get a kick from watching Old Gandalf at his first love. In the process he may woo some of them into loving Shakespeare, too.

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