Women and Shakespeare

Something Old-Something New 1: Bonus Episode: Janet Suzman with Lauren Grajewski

February 01, 2021 Interviewer: Ms Lauren Grajewski Guest: Dame Janet Suzman
Women and Shakespeare
Something Old-Something New 1: Bonus Episode: Janet Suzman with Lauren Grajewski
Chapters
Women and Shakespeare
Something Old-Something New 1: Bonus Episode: Janet Suzman with Lauren Grajewski
Feb 01, 2021
Interviewer: Ms Lauren Grajewski Guest: Dame Janet Suzman

Janet Suzman tells us about playing in Richard III on the night that Kennedy was shot. Check out http://www.womenandshakespeare.com for a complete transcript.

Interviewer: Ms Lauren Grajewski 
Guest: Dame Janet Suzman
Producer: Ms Ivanna Vargas
Editing: Dr Varsha Panjwani
Artwork: Mr Wenqi Wan 




Show Notes Transcript

Janet Suzman tells us about playing in Richard III on the night that Kennedy was shot. Check out http://www.womenandshakespeare.com for a complete transcript.

Interviewer: Ms Lauren Grajewski 
Guest: Dame Janet Suzman
Producer: Ms Ivanna Vargas
Editing: Dr Varsha Panjwani
Artwork: Mr Wenqi Wan 




Speaker 1:

Hello, and welcome to 'Women & Shakespeare'. You're listening to our bonus 'Something Old, Something New' episode in which we bring you fresh conversations from guests who have already been on our podcast. Well, you don't need to know who I am because today's episode is hosted by my student and collaborator Lauren Grajewski and she's putting some tough questions to the actor and director, Janet Suzman.

Lauren:

Hello, Janet.

Janet:

Hello.

Lauren:

I'm Lauren. And I'm a current acting student at NYU, New York University. So, like I told you earlier, very excited to meet you. I'm going to ask you some of my burning Shakespeare questions.

Janet:

Oh, God.

Lauren:

Are you ready?

Janet:

I'm ready to burn.

Lauren:

What is your favorite Shakespeare phrase or quote.

Janet:

"Come my queen, and all alone tonight we'll wander through the streets and note the qualities of people." I think that's Mr. Shakespeare speaking. I think he wandered through the streets noting the qualities of people. I don't know why it is, but I can just see him wandering through the streets of London and watching and taking in and watching and taking in.

Lauren:

Yes.

Janet:

Yes.

Lauren:

How else could he write these multi-layered characters?

Janet:

Because he was a genius, but he also wandered the streets.

Lauren:

Of course.

Janet:

Went to a lot of pubs, I guess.

Lauren:

Don't we all? So do you have a Shakespeare quote that is really irritating?

Janet:

Oh, "Alas poor Yorick," I guess. That's what people jump on, don't they? The skull.

Lauren:

Yes.

Janet:

Yes.

Lauren:

What about Shakespeare turns you on, whether it be emotionally, spiritually, or creatively?

Janet:

All those things.

Lauren:

Yes.

Janet:

Every single one of those. It does. Well, listen, if you're responsive to poetry and words and juxtapositions and fabulous words used oddly or odd words used fabulously, that's what he does. And if you're still alive to words, you get used to the glory of a man playing gymnastics, I say a man advisedly because we know he was, playing gymnastics with this language. He's got a wonderful freedom with the language and I think that's fun.

Lauren:

Yes he does. Is there anything, because I know we're talking about how much we love Shakespeare, but is there anything about Shakespeare that turns you off?

Janet:

Yes. Reading it.

Lauren:

Oh.

Janet:

It's hell. Reading Shakespeare is hell. It's awful. I'm always sorry for people that have been told to read a play. So to anybody out there who thinks they can sit and read a play and appreciate it, forget that. Just get up and speak it out loud, even to yourself. Perfect.

Lauren:

I completely agree with that.

Janet:

Then it suddenly makes sense. Doesn't it?

Lauren:

Yes. So much.

Janet:

Good. I'm glad you agree.

Lauren:

You're welcome. Is there someone that you haven't collaborated with on a Shakespeare show yet that you are dying to collaborate with?

Janet:

I never worked with Peter Brook, oddly. I'm a little band of people who were left out of this great adventures this man got up to. But I did work with Peter Hall. I was in a golden age. I hate to say that, but it was. It was a golden age. When Peter Brook and John Barton and all those people founded the new Royal Shakespeare Company, in 1964, something buzzy was happening in the air. Stratford was alive with stuff, Shakespeare stuff. Suddenly everybody got excited by it. And the fact that he did all seven history plays, so from Monday to Saturday, you could see one play after the other, was thrilling. And all day Shakespeare, you'd come in the morning and sit till 1:00, break for lunch, go back at 2:00, break for supper, come back at 7:00.

Janet:

I remember one night, the night Jack Kennedy was murdered, we were doing Richard III.

Lauren:

Whoa.

Janet:

Oh, Whoa. And I tell you, a guy called Jeffrey Dench, Judi Dench's brother as a matter of fact, had a little radio backstage. And we heard when Jack Kennedy was taken to the hospital and died.

Lauren:

Oh my gosh.

Janet:

So backstage at 7:29, I think, we were listening to the radio, that meant that we knew something cataclysmic had happened in the world and the audience didn't and a tremendous fight happened between backstage and front of house. We said, "You can't take it. We've got to tell these people what's happened because it's going to affect the whole world." Which of course it did. And they said, "No, we're not a radio station. We're a theater. And we have to take the curtain up." So they won.

Janet:

We took the curtain up and here was a point at which all the actors on the stage were playing about the death of Kings and assassinations and murders, and out there they knew nothing. By the interval it came through and half the house left, because they were so shattered by what had happened.

Lauren:

Yeah, of course.

Janet:

As a receptacle for human events, Shakespeare plays are fantastic. They reflect what goes on out there. They do.

Lauren:

So as I said, I'm a current acting student. Do you have any advice for people right now in college or in drama school?

Janet:

No, no. I don't have advice for anybody.

Lauren:

Good. We don't need it.

Janet:

Quite right. You don't need it. And I don't have anything to give.

Lauren:

Perfect. I think that's a good note to end it on. Thank you so much.

Janet:

Okay.

Lauren:

So happy to have met you.

Janet:

You, too.

Lauren:

Thank you.