Writing vs. Acting
Michael York, OBE is an English actor. An early career with the National Youth Theater, Oxford University Dramatic Society, and University College Players led him to the National Theater in London. After acclaimed roles in Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet (1968), Cabaret (1972) and Jesus of Nazareth (1977), he is more recently known among mainstream audiences for his role as Basil Exposition in the Austin Powers series of comedy films. Classically trained, Michael York wrote a handbook "A Shakespearean Actor Prepares."
Well it first got started when I was asked to do an autobiography. This is in, oh it was in the '90s and I was about 50 and I thought well, I'm 50. Hopefully, I'm a little over half-way through this. It's too soon. Then I thought well, no. It would be interesting to take a break to see where one's been you know, to evaluate the experience and maybe make what lies ahead a little more interesting and structured. And I found I love the act of writing and couldn’t wait once the book was done, to do something else. So I did. So you know, there've been about five books. But, you were being very complimentary about one book.
Question: How did you approach your book on Shakespearean acting?
Michael York: It was a book that took seven years to write because it was co-written with my very best friend who is Adrian Brian who is a director/actor/ producer working in continental Europe. So this was the age of the fax, which made it even more complicated. These, you know, stuff would go back and forth until we got an agreement on it. But our point of view was that, you know, that going back to what we said earlier, that Shakespeare was writing plays for actors, not for academics. And within the plays themselves, were clear signs of how he wanted them performed. Not just in you know, the obvious thing, that speak speech, which is a very direct instruction, but also with the way the plays were structured, you know, whether verse was used or prose was used. There are all kinds of clues throughout the text. And so that was the starting out point. No, I was glad that you know, the book was well received by academia as well as I know working actors too, who have found some of the insights useful.
York discusses his book, "The Shakespearean Actor Prepares."
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