Last night to the Birthplace Trust in S-u-A to hear RSC director Gregory Doran interviewed on the topic of (surprise!) 'Shakespeare and I'.
Both thumbs up for this warm, unpretentious man's engaging account of how he became a self-confessed 'Shakespeare nut'.
Ably prompted by interviewer Paul Edmondson, Greg (well, one feels one got to know the guy) spoke of the influence of an inspirational teacher at his Catholic secondary school. One identified.
I also checked the 'idntify box' regarding a childhood passion for putting on puppet shows.
In my school there was, sadly, no tradition of performing the plays. Greg, on the other hand, overcame bitter disappointment (Mr Monahan failed to cast him as Ophelia) to triumph as a schoolboy Richard II and Lady Macbeth (presumably pre-beard).
But it wasn't the am-dram fripperies of lights, makeup and costume that got him hooked.
It was the words, the 'jewels in the mouth' feeling of speaking Shakespeare's language, borne along by the music, not always understanding the full sense of a speech. Intoxicating, liberating, empowering, bafflingly complex, totally straightforward...
As a friend of mine might say: 'I so got that.'
And, for me, it's that love of the text that helps explain the success of Greg Doran's productions. Concepts, ideas, design - all are secondary to the words. As he remarked, Shakespeare's original audience went to hear a play, rather than to see it...
And among the pieces that he read was Cavafy's glorious poem Ithaca.
Could go on...
Oh,by the way, GD was wearing the shirt pictured above.