In honor of its 50th birthday, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) brought together company founder Sir Peter Hall and current Artistic Director Michael Boyd in conversation at the Park Avenue Armory where the RSC is currently in residence.
Their talk was guided by company ensemble member (and RSC board member) Noma Dumezweni, but the two men needed little prompting to embark on a combination of reminiscence and philosophical discourse. They discussed the importance of ensemble acting; the role of the director; and — in the most memorable part of the evening — debated the merits of the thrust stage (Hall doubtful; Boyd ardent) by walking about the RSC’s reconstructed theatre and demonstrating how speech sounds from different parts of the house. The evening finished with the presentation of a birthday cake to Hall and Boyd, who issued an impromptu invitation to the audience to join them onstage, and then dispensed slices of cake to all the takers—probably the easiest job he’s had in months.
Peter Hall on Shakespeare: "Shakespeare is one of the great, great con artists. He says, 'This is true, but on the other hand, this might be also true, and so might that. Why don’t you just go home and talk it over with your wife?' That’s the Shakespearean creative act."
Michael Boyd on Americans and Shakespeare: "One of the ways Americans have taken hold of Shakespeare…is as family drama — is looking at Tennessee Williams or Arthur Miller, and through that prism coming to Shakespeare."
Peter Hall on "the theater:" "The important thing about 'the theater' is that a group of people who are alive and who know each other meet together in a space and try to actually catch the tail of this person, who’s written something, which is the record of his dreams."
Listen to the complete talk by clicking the link above.