The English Actor by Peter Ackroyd


ISBN
9781789146998
Published
Binding
Hardcover
Dimensions
156 x 234mm

The English Actor charts the uniquely English approach to stagecraft. In thirty chapters, Peter Ackroyd describes, with superb narrative skill, the genesis of acting — deriving from the Church tradition of Mystery Plays — through the flourishing of the craft in the Renaissance to modern methods that followed the advent of film and television. The biographies of the most notable and celebrated actors are also explored, right up to the present day. In this book, Ackroyd gives us an original and superbly entertaining appraisal of how actors have acted — and how audiences have responded — since the medieval period, and what we mean by the 'magic of the stage'.'What separates English actors from their rivals? Ackroyd’s starstruck history celebrates a thousand years of strutting thesps. In this admiring tome, the English actor, incarnated by [Laurence] Olivier, was and remains a breed apart. He belongs to 'a tradition that has lasted more than a thousand years'; and, by fairly strong implication, he is quite superior to his cousins abroad. Across twenty-six chapters [Ackroyd] gives a running history of English theater from the medieval mysteries to the present day.' – Daily Telegraph'Sir Ralph Richardson pursued a desire to 'illustrate literature.' This, the eminent writer and historian Ackroyd says, is the essence of the English actor. A respect for the text, a devotion to words on the page. Ackroyd begins his history in medieval times. . . . This is when Ackroyd’s book works best, documenting the birth of acting, its evolution from the church tradition of mystery plays to what we would recognize as modern stagecraft.' – Sunday Times'Bright ghosts of performances past haunt these pages, electric ephemera conjured from the shadows of history, and it's impossible not to feel some of the shivers they originally inspired. Ackroyd generously gives us both the prose and the poetry of great English acting—the craft and commerce that allowed it to happen and the magic that made it mythic.' – Ben Brantley, former chief theater critic for the New York Times
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