South Bank Show Tribute transcript

South Bank Show, January 2000
*transcribed by Catherine Kerrigan

Transcript of Ken's comments that were included in the South Bank Show's Tribute to Shakespeare earlier this year.

"It's impossible to pin (Shakespeare) down about what he thinks and, as you work with Shakespeare, actually finding the man, trying to find his what his opinions were about almost anything is very difficult but along the way, it's a cliche, uh, you nevertheless find out quite a lot about what you are."

"The theatre is a metaphor for life, as a mirror for life is something that he plays with all the time and, uh, he presents people often uh revealing sides of themselves to certain people and not to others that uh underlines the idea that e are many many different kinds of individual and the plays attack that complexity."

This was followed by a clip from LLL - Berowne's speech about "Love, first learned in a lady's eyes".

"This access to poetry that he has, this, this ability to deal directly with the heart, the ability to make - it sounds soooo pretentious but it happens, I've felt it happen and I've been in theatres when it happens, I've been in screenings of films - not necessarily my own, ah, when it happens, with the comedys where the ability to have the spirits, the souls of the audience sing."

Clip from MAAN - Beatrice and Benedict on the balcony - "Tell me for which of my bad parts did you fall in love with".

"He always manages to do it and he does it in Much Ado About Nothing, to take us through what it's like to be in love. It's painful, you agonise, you get frustrated, you often hate the object of your love, you give it up repeatedly, you throw yourself back into it at the moment at which you've made the most strongest decision to resist it, you suddenly fall over all again, it's mutable instantly and extremely and that sort of tumbling, kaleidoscopic effect of the way in which our emotions are utterly changed by romantic love is so beautifully caught."

Clip from MAAN - Benedict in the garden - "I may chance to have some wit broken on me because I have railed so against love..." etc.

"I think (Shakespeare) felt many things and he has realism about, about what the statistics we all know are not so great (laughs as he says this bit) and I don't think they were as concerned about the divorce rate back in 1600, but I don't think that had anything to do with the fact that relationships are difficult and relationships that start intensely or romantically are difficult to maintain at that level and he analyses that throughout all of the plays and he does place questions marks above them."

From a segment on Hamlet:

"(Hamlet) is so brilliantly intelligent and at the same time we see the dangers of the racing mind, of over-analysis, of constant monitoring of who we are and what we do, as he says at one point, you know, we didn't get this (pointing to his head) to fust in us unused, and at the same time it's a very very dangerous thing because we think ourselves in and out of situations and he does ask the question, to be or not be and right at the end of the play, in answer to a question he poses himself, he says let be. And it's very tough to be, and, uh, not be watching yourself being all the time, that fantastically compelling uh irritating dimension of human behaviour is very much exemplified with Hamlet, perhaps the truest human being and the greatest play-actor in the whole canon."

"To me, in the absence of a, sort of, conventional religious faith, I'd say that there is much practical, moral, spiritual mention in these plays that as an individual, distinct from the work I do, is immensely valuable to me."

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