I’ve directed fourteen productions of plays by Shakespeare, in studios and amphitheatres, in chapels and castles, to audiences from fifty people to a thousand. I’ve worked on hundreds of scenes, from all of his plays, in classes and workshops in several different languages.
Shakespeare is my daily professional companion (I could not be more fortunate). Over nearly two decades of teaching Shakespearean acting to students and professionals, and interspersing the focus on Shakespeare with techniques from acting traditions drawn from across the world of performance, I’ve come to a place of great affinity with Shakespeare’s fundamental theatrical sense. I’ve developed a methodology of teaching Shakespearean acting which at once springs from tradition, hangs upon the present moment, and forges urgently into the future. My work concentrates on the psycho-dramatic structures the playwright embeds in his form and language, and on the intimate and truthful relationship between actor and audience.
My work with Will is strongly influenced by both New Historicist scholarship, and by its theatrical counterpart: practical research into early modern theatre spaces, acting style, and performance values. As both director and as acting teacher my work ranges stylistically from ‘original practices’ to the radically contemporary; but my approach to Shakespeare is always, regardless of the context, rooted in text. My thinking is particularly influenced by the scholarship of Jonathan Bate, David Crystal, Bridget Escolme, Stephen Greenblatt, Andrew Gurr, Farah Karim-Cooper, Laurie Maguire, Charles Nicholl, Abigail Rokison-Woodall, James Shapiro, John Southworth, Holger Syme and Stanley Wells; and my practice by the textual approaches of John Barton, Cicely Berry, Declan Donnellan, Peter Hall and Mark Rylance.
Over the last decade, my former students have appeared in leading classical roles at major theatres in the US, China, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Greece, France, Spain, Italy, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, South Korea, South Africa, Uganda, Mexico, Ireland, Norway, and across Eastern Europe, as well as in the UK. Others have achieved successful careers on TV, in films, or in contemporary or devised theatre; still others direct, write, dramaturg, choreograph, produce, design, film, compose, curate or teach drama and performance in a wide variety of settings. At the core for all of us is a dramatic education received in Will Shakespeare’s company: one of the greatest challenges an actor or theatre-maker can undertake, and in itself one of theatre’s greatest rewards.