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Radiolab Reads: Year of the King

Monday, August 08, 2011 - 07:00 PM

Hanse Spider (Araneus diadematus) Hanse Spider (Araneus diadematus) (Presleyjesus/flickr)

In the summer of 1983, Antony Sher got word that he was in line to play one of the most evil characters in literature--Shakespeare's murderous King Richard III. He spent the next year of his life getting ready for the role--turning himself into the "bottled spider," and turning his ambitions, doubts, and inspirations into a stunning account of the inner life of an actor.

Year of the King is a book about acting, but it's just as much a book about falling in love...deeply and completely...with the idea of another human being.

Taking on Richard becomes an obsession for Sher: "All day, every day, since it was first mentioned, I've been on the prowl for bits of Richard." He sees him everywhere--in Jaws, in mountain ranges, in bulls fighting matadors, in documentaries about psychopaths. And he's haunted by shadow Richards...hollow figments tromping across hallowed stages, swinging across movie screens, and lurking inside his own insecurities.

It's excellent. It's a rallying cry for throwing yourself into your work, for trying on costumes you know won't make the cut, and for daring to make something as timeless as Shakespeare your own.

 

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Comments [2]

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Apr. 05 2012 01:24 AM
Daniel J. Rowe from Montreal

Richard III has always been one of my favourite plays. It's incredibly complicated and has some points of weakness, but it is held together by the Machiavellian psychopath Richard. The most chilling scene for me is when he is convincing his nephews that he should "take care" of them by putting them in the tower.

We read this play in our weekly Bard Brawl a couple of weeks ago. Very fun.

Aug. 09 2011 09:34 AM

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