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Acting Shakespeare


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Acting Shakespeare + PLAYING SHAKESPEARE
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Product Details

  • Actors: Ian McKellen
  • Directors: Kirk Browning
  • Writers: Ian McKellen, William Shakespeare
  • Producers: Andrew Susskind, David Susskind, Ricki Green
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: E1 Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: January 12, 2010
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002SF9YMU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #97,765 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Acting Shakespeare" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Alone on stage, with no props or costumes, distinguished and celebrated actor Ian McKellen performs some of the most striking monologues from Shakespeare’s masterpieces. With wit and humor, McKellen continues this amazing one man show by discussing his relationship with theatre and offering a discourse on some of the greatest plays of all time.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 27 customer reviews
Seldom can one evening's theater do so much for a person's understanding and appreciation of life.
Dena/Daniel Bugel-Shunra
My hope is that the reason they took so long to release it is because they were picky about getting the audio and video quality right.
Staci L. Gieber
Fine demonstration on acting of various characters by a master actor as well as entertaining watching and listening.
Alan Z. Lefkowitz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

79 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Staci L. Gieber on November 19, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I saw this video in my high school British Lit. class in 1986 and was mesmerized. I was not a particular fan of Shakespeare at the time, was in fact one of those kids who found Shakespeare mostly boring and irrelevant, but this turned me on to all that Shakespeare can be and why he has remained popular for so long. I have been a huge fan of Ian McKellan ever since; he is superb in this. I have been looking for this video for years, checking McKellan's website, ebay and everywhere I could think of, so I was so excited when I googled the title today, and found it on Amazon! I cannot recommend McKellan's _Acting Shakespeare_ highly enough. It remains, in my memory, the best theatre -- Shakespeare or otherwise -- that I have ever seen. It is just Ian McKellan on a bare stage, no props or costumes as far as I remember, performing monologues from several Shakespearian plays and commenting on the plays and characters and how he approaches them. The simplicity is perhaps part of what makes this so beautifully done. As it hasn't been released yet, I cannot comment on the technical quality of the sound or video. My hope is that the reason they took so long to release it is because they were picky about getting the audio and video quality right. Anyway, it is superb.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Cheryl Toliver on February 15, 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I first saw Ian McKellen's 'Acting Shakespeare' on PBS some 24-25 years ago and loved it for how he made Shakespeare's words come alive with new meaning. I then saw him perform it live in San Francisco in 1987 and have longed to see it again ever since. Viewing this DVD brought back these memories, but was also surprising - the performance is even better than I remembered it and has awakened even more meaning in Shakespeare's words for me.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By PDC on June 11, 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Re. the comments by Krupa concerning the 'Macbeth' section of 'Acting Shakespeare', it should be noted that McKellen's ACTUAL full stage performance of 'MacBeth' -- far superior to the excerpts in his mostly terrific one-man show -- is itself available on DVD through Amazon, and here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/Macbeth-McKellen-Thames-Shakespeare-Collection/dp/B0002TVWYW/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1276308261&sr=1-2

This is the great (1978) Royal Shakespeare Company production directed by Trevor Nunn, with a thrillingly brilliant performance by McKellen in the title role, and also featuring an unforgettable performance by Judi Dench as Lady Macbeth. It's as close as I've ever seen anyone come to a definitive production of the play. And, needless to say, I can't recommend it highly enough to any admirer of Shakespeare or Mr. McKellen (or Ms. Dench).

As an interesting side-note, Laurence Olivier did a legendary stage 'Macbeth' as well, but his by-all-accounts magnificent performance (listed by countless critics, theatre historians, and fellow actors as one of his very finest) is sadly lost to the ages because Olivier was unable raise the requisite funding to make a once-planned film version of it. Hard to believe, eh, with all the mediocre and mindless cinema that HAS been funded over the years?!
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Cat on March 21, 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
In many a theater class, I've often felt saddened when I would watch a well-delivered monologue or scene from fellow actors, knowing they would never been seen again. It's bitter-sweet to witness a moment of brilliance but never be able to describe it or ever see it duplicated. Actors are on an endless pursuit to understand the meaning of what they speak and to find the right actions for the words. Especially with Shakespeare's works, an actor may spend months with one monologue but after all his effort, still not understand how to speak the words. Even great actors like Ian McKellen have had to disect Shakespeare's text in order to understand what is going on in the scene. He was part of John Barton's "Playing Shakespeare" workshop that shows the actor at a very basic level, how to technically approach Shakespeare just by analysing the text. I'm of the opinion Sir McKellen was born great, but his understanding of Shakespeare took time and fortunately for us, the culmination of his years dedicated to mastering the words have been preserved. McKellen embarks on his one-man Shakespeare show by performing several monologues on a bare stage, weaving them together expertly, and peppered with anecdotes about Shakespeare's life. I'm rather fond of Richard III and his performance of the disfigured tyrant was an absolute gift. It's not necessary to have read any of the plays to fully appreciate this performance. McKellen has done the work; all we need to do is listen.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By C. C. Black on May 22, 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
A delightful recital by one of our generation's finest Shakespearean interpreters. Inevitably, McKellen's "Acting Shakespeare" invites comparisons with John Gielgud's "Ages of Man"; though both are live performances with minimalist staging, they are quite different in approach, each with its distinctive merits. Where Gielgud exudes gravitas, McKellan is more sprightly, taking the audience into his confidence. Not only in length but in depth, Gielgud presents much more verse, much less commentary; McKellen selects fewer readings, adding more personal narrative as connective tissue for the declamatory gems. As the Brits like to say, what you gain on the swings you lose on the roundabouts. If you love the Bard, both are well worth purchasing and enjoying frequently. For younger audiences McKellan's is probably the better bet: he himself was younger when this was produced, and kids will likely get a kick from watching Old Gandalf at his first love. In the process he may woo some of them into loving Shakespeare, too.
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