There was a course on offer at RADA whose object was to provide a background to the practical training that was the main function of the drama school. Staffed by true academic theatre luminaries of the day, such as Phyllis Hartnoll and Muriel St. Clare Byrne, the lectures covered history of drama and costume. That’s when I learned of the nuances of comparative acting styles from Burbage, to Betterton, to Garrick, to Macklin, to Kean, to Forbes-Robertson, to Irving through to modern times.
Fascinatingly there still lived, and was to be seen on our stages, a direct link with the acting style of the recent past, illustrated by a chap called Donald Wolfit. He was born just one year after Queen Victoria’s death and our teachers assured us that he had caught the flavour of – and clearly admired – many aspects of the ‘old school’ of acting.
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About my new book
I’ve spent 70 years as an actor, writer and director, and Are You Going to do That Little Jump? The Adventure Continues is stuffed full of backstage stories: about the sitcoms I was in – Keep It in the Family, Porridge, Rising Damp, Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?, Reggie Perrin, and dozens more; about my forays into live theatre – from irksomerep, to risky Fringe, to the spine-tingling RSC and treacherous, seductive Broadway. And it’s right up to date with recent movies – Lost in London and Peterloo.