The brilliant British actress Kathryn Hunter was born Aikaterini Hadjipateras in New York to Greek parents fifty-nine years ago and raised in England where she trained at RADA.
The Telegraph’s Charles Spencer once described her as “…diminutive in stature and slightly lame, she has a deep, guttural voice, eyes like black olives and the most expressive of faces.”
In 1991 she won an Olivier Award for her portrayal of the millionaire in Friedrich Durrenmatt’s THE VISIT. When reviewing Samuel Beckett’s FRAGMENTS at London’s Young Vic in 2008, The Guardian’s Andrew Dickson said that Kathryn “crams into a few minutes of stage time more than most actors achieve in a career.”
Her ‘uncommon ability to shape shift’ has led her to play roles typically reserved for male actors. In 1997 she was the first British female actor to play KING LEAR professionally and four years later she lead an all-female cast in RICHARD III at Shakespeare’s Globe.
For most of September this year, the ‘master of transformation’ performed ten roles in an hour at the Young Vic, including the title character, Ethiopia’s Emperor Haile Selassie in the world premiere of THE EMPEROR in what The Sunday Times declared, “her shape-shifting brilliance could be the stage performance of the year.”
I managed to catch up with her after the final matinee, which is no mean feat in itself as her boundless energy is not restricted to the stage. She was moving quickly looking for a friend, but did stop momentarily to thank me for this drawing I did of her as the Plantagenet King and sign it.
In 2010 English actress Miranda Raison played Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s notorious second wife at Shakespeare’s Globe in London. In fact she played her twice in the same season in different productions. Once in the world premiere of Howard Benton’s play, simply entitled ANNE BOLEYN and again in the Bard’s HENRY VIII.
Keeping with the ‘two’ theme, I drew her twice as Anne from the former production and posted the first sketch on this blog in November 2013. Both sketches depict the opening scene when the ghost of Anne Boleyn addresses the audience, carrying a bloodied bag containing her severed head and a copy of Tyndale’s bible. The previous sketch is a full-bodied version. This is the close-up and has more ‘energy’ in the rendering.
Since her beheading for treason Anne became a heroine and key figure in the political and religious upheaval of the English Reformation inspiring numerous cultural works since.
The reason for two similar sketches is simples. I often do a number of variations, some subtle, then select one for signing and sometimes giving the ‘victim’ one of the others. In this case I had dropped off the close-up drawing at the Globe for Miranda to sign and must have forgotten about it. Sometimes I do this just in case I don’t get an ‘in-person’ sig. As you can see I got both, with a nice little note on the flyer with the one mailed back to me.
So this is a second, similar drawing of Miranda in the same role and the Raisons (sorry)
I am an unashamed fan of the British TV series MIDSOMER MURDERS. John Hopkins featured in 14 episodes as DS Daniel Scott, sidekick to John Nettles’ DCI Tom Barnaby. After leaving the show he returned to the stage. One of his recent theatrical appearances was in the critically acclaimed HOLY WARRIORS at Shakespeare’s Globe last year.
The David Eldridge play centres on Richard I’s Third Crusade against Saladin over the possession of Jerusalem, the medieval clash between Christianity and Islam that has lead to a direct line to the violence still engulfing the Middle East today. Richard is one of the few English Kings that is still known by his epithet – Richard the Lionheart, rather than his Regnal number. He had an ignominious ending, killed while laughing at a defender of a castle he was besieging who was using a frying pan as a makeshift shield.
John played the ‘Coeur de Lion’, receiving excellent reviews.
I drew this sketch of John as Richard, which gave me the chance to meet him last Saturday at London’s Tricycle Theatre where he is currently featuring in the hilarious spoof BEN HUR. He happily signed this drawing, while we discussed the general state of the world and… MIDSOMER MURDERS.
I was very pleased to hear that Olivier and Tony Award winner Janet McTeer has returned to the London stage and is in currently appearing in LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES at the Donmar Warehouse. Not only is it a chance to see this wonderful British actress perform, but an opportunity to meet her and, naturally the possibility of having a sketch or two signed crossed my mind ( and yes, before you think it… not a long journey). This particular drawing is based on her role in Phyllida Lloyd’s all-female production of THE TAMING OF THE SHREW at the Shakespeare’s Globe in 2003. She played Petruchio, a young man, intent on taming the ‘shrew’. Blurring the fringes between genders has been a rewarding theme in Janet’s career. Her Oscar-nominated role as Hubert Page in ALBERT HOBBS is another recent example. Actually I read that after hearing of her nod for that role, she and her husband had a low-key celebration, drank some champagne, ate cheesecake and watched DOWNTON ABBEY. “It doesn’t get better than that”, she said. With that type of down-to-earth philosophy I thought she wouldn’t mind signing my sketch. I was right.
Former supermodel and actress Lily Cole, “excels while making her stage acting debut in Simon Armitage’s stylish The Last Days of Troy“, wrote Dominic Cavendish in The Telegraph.
Staged last summer at Shakespeare’s Globe, following a run at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre, it has been described by some as a a “highlights package” of Greek history.
The Last Day’s of Troy completes Homer’s Iliad with award winning poet and author Simon Armitages dramatisation, bringing the war to a brutal conclusion. It combined the essentials of Homer’s Iliad, bits from his Odyssey and elements from Virgil’s Aeneid.
Lily played Helen of Troy, the most beautiful woman in the world according to Greek myth. While technically not her stage debut, it was her first conventional production. She previously appeared in the Old Vic’s annual 24 Hour Plays Celebrity Galas in which a group of high profile performers work with writers and directors to create a line up of new plays in just 24 hours.
“The former model, now a humanitarian campaigner is suitably enigmatic. Cole’s performance is deliberately restrained as she glides around the stage in an almost ghostly fashion… her gracious movement and distant stare are just what’s required,” wrote Henery Hitchings in the Evening Standard.
Some in the autograph game have found the same demeanour off stage, but I’ve always found Lily to be pleasant and accommodating on the few occasions I have met her. There’s a big difference between ‘racking’ her with 20 8x10s and asking her to sign a theatre sketch.
“Jonathan Pryce and his daughter Phoebe excel in Jonathan Munby’s inspired production of the Merchant of Venice at Shakespeare’s Globe in London,” wrote Kate Kellaway in her five star review for The Guardian.
“Casting Jonathan Pryce as Shylock and his daughter, Phoebe, as Jessica turns out to be no frivolous gimmick but an inspiration. It’s a family affair – a double star turn,” she concluded
The production ran in repertory from mid April to 7 June. Double Olivier and Tony Award winner Jonathan was making his first appearance on the Globe stage.
Stephen Collins of BritishTheatre.com wrote, “Jonathan Pryce is a calm, righteous and driven Shylock… (who) finds the heart and soul of the man and with scalpel like precision reveals his inner strengths and weaknesses… Pryce presents a memorable, complete and completely flawed Shylock. The look on Pryce’s face when Shylock is spat upon is seared into my memory. As Jessica, Jonathan Pryces real life daughter, Phoebe is splendid. Full of pain and grief, yet wildly, passionately in love.”
Giovanni and Annabella are lovers. They are also brother and sister, the protagonists in John Ford’s 400 year old play about forbidden love.
Tis Pity She’s a Whore was first performed sometime between 1629 and 1633 by Queen Henrietta’s Men at the Cockpit Theatre in London. The title was often changed to Giovanni and Annabella, The Brother and Sister or simply Tis Pity. A recent revival has just completed its season at Shakespeare’s Globe in the intimate, candlelit enclave, the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, featuring Max Bennett and Fiona Button as the doomed romantic leads on the path to tragedy.
Critics were unanimous in their praise or Michael Longhurst’s brilliant production which was not always the case with this play until well into the twentieth century. The play’s treatment of incest made it one of the most controversial works in English literature but is now regarded as a classic. Ford, the major playwright during the reign of Charles I, often dealt with conflicts between individual passion, conscience and society’s laws and morals.
In fact, Transport for London apparently banned posters showing the entwined naked torsos of the siblings, deeming them too racy for tired commuters.
The Globe’s production of this unsettling Renaissance incestuous drama was described as a no-holds-barred interpretation. One reviewer said, “it’s not just the candle flames that are naked.” The Telegraph’s Tim Walker called Max and Fiona’s portrayals, “electrifying”.