Monday, February 6, 2017 - 5:00pm
The Drama Book Shop is pleased to welcome back Dame Harriet Walter for a discussion about her new book, Brutus and Other Heroines: Playing Shakespeare's Roles for Women, on Monday, February 6th at 5:00PM. Walter will sit down with theatre critic and historian David Finkel for an intimate conversation about tackling some of the Bard's greatest roles, and her latest theatrical adventure at St. Ann's Warehouse. The event is free to the public and will be followed by a signing. Copies of the new title, published by Nick Hern Books, will be available for purchase ($26.95).
In a varied and distinguished career, Harriet Walter has played almost all of Shakespeare’s heroines, notably Ophelia, Helena, Portia, Viola, Imogen, Lady Macbeth, Beatrice and Cleopatra, mostly for the Royal Shakespeare Company. But where, she asks, does an actress go after playing Cleopatra’s magnificent death? Why didn’t Shakespeare write more – and more powerful – roles for mature women? For Walter, the solution was to ignore the dictates of centuries of tradition, and to begin playing the mature male characters. Her Brutus in an all–female Julius Caesar at the Donmar Warehouse was widely acclaimed, and was soon followed by Henry IV. What, she asks, can an actress bring to these roles – and is there any fundamental difference in the way they must be played?
In Brutus and Other Heroines, Walter discusses each of these roles – both male and female – from the inside, explaining the particular choices she made in preparing and performing each character. Her extraordinarily perceptive and intimate accounts illuminate each play as a whole, offering a treasure trove of valuable insights for theatregoers, scholars and anyone interested in how the plays work on stage. Aspiring actors, too, will discover the many possibilities open to them in playing these magnificent roles. The book is an exploration of the Shakespearean canon through the eyes of a self-identified ‘feminist actor’ – but, above all, a remarkable account of an acting career unconstrained by tradition or expectations. It concludes with an affectionate rebuke to her beloved Will: ‘I cannot imagine a world without you. I just wish you had put more women at the centre of your world/stage... I would love you to come back and do some rewrites.’
Walter returns to New York this winter to tackle the role of Prospero in a new production of The Tempest at St. Ann's Warehouse. For more information about the production, please visit http://stannswarehouse.org/show/the-tempest/. The Drama Book Shop, a 2011 Tony Award-Honoree for Excellence in Theatre, is located at 250 West 40th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues. Events are free to the public. For more information on this and other happenings at the historic 99-year-old shop, please visit www.dramabookshop.com.