Does Dame Judi's Fame Charge Hurt Theatre???Date: 13 October 2009
Are today’s up-and-coming generation of performers too fame-hungry? Dame Judi Dench, speaking at the Cheltenham Literature Festival this weekend, has criticised young actors who want “to make a big impression in television or film straight away”. The Oscar-winning actress, who rarely speaks out about other performers, said it is a shame that a new generation of actors are largely ignorant of Britain’s rich theatrical heritage.
Her remarks have provoked responses from within the industry, not least from the current in-demand stage director Rupert Goold. Goold, who has had a string of recent successes, including Macbeth, Oliver! and Enron - the last of which transfers from the Royal Court to the West End in the new year - is concerned that Dench’s comments could further ‘strangle’ innovation. As the theatre world already consists largely of the middle-aged, claims Goold, it’s unfair to judge actors who want to explore other mediums; otherwise, it often feels like “you are seeking to win the approval of your parents all the time”. Goold also feels that a “professionalism” exists today that didn’t 40 years ago.
Former National Theatre artistic director Richard Eyre, however, agrees with Dench, asserting that ‘a curiosity about the previous generation’ has been replaced by a ‘preoccupation with the present’. Dench believes much of her own success derives from time spent, when appearing in plays, foregoing a break in her dressing room in order to stand in the wings watching and learning from other actors.
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