Listening to the Audience

This new project involves recording people with memories of Shakespeare in performance. As a taster, I’ve started with three productions of Hamlet by the RSC: 1965, 1980 and 1989, each memorable and very distinct from the others.

To begin with, here is Carol Malcolmson talking about her memories of seeing the David Warner Hamlet as a schoolgirl.

Bryan Palin was an avid theatregoer when he saw the production in 1966.

Roger Howells was the chief stage manager and remembers how they staged the ghost in 1965.

In 1980 Michael Pennington was a very different Hamlet. Here is Mairi Macdonald remembering a particular point in the production.

Here is Carol Malcolmson again, talking about Michael Pennington’s performance.

In 1989 Mark Rylance played the part. Here are some of James Stredder’s impressions of the production.

Bryan Palin also saw this production and had very different feelings about it.

Rebecca Brown saw the production many times as part of her work, and recalls some moments in great detail.

You can find a post about this project on the RSC’s My Shakespeare blog.

If you are interested in finding out more, please leave a reply in the box at the end of this page and click “Post comment”. For your own security, please do not leave your personal email address here: I am able to reply to your comments directly.



15 Responses to Listening to the Audience

  1. Shirley Vinogradoff says:

    I’d be glad to contribute to this project. I live in Stratford so can speak/take part in person if required.

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  3. glynis powell says:

    hi sylvia, intrigued. not sure if I have particular memories in mind, but would love tknow more.

  4. Mairi Macdonald says:

    As always, Sylvia, I’m more than happy to rabbit on about productions I’ve loved or loathed.


    Sylvia, as we discussed at the Summer School, I’d be delighted to contribute. It’s a great chance to relive some memorable productions.

  6. Helen Walker says:

    Sounds interesting, not sure how much I have to contribute, but that doesn’t seem like a good reason to miss out on all the fun.

  7. David Brown says:

    I would love to participate also. I have a memory of Macbeth at what I think was Newcastle Under Lyme shortly after it opened pre-1990 (do correct me if I am mistaken). School trip etc. It is a rather funny account and happy to share. Do get in touch 🙂

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  9. Adele Winston says:

    I saw Gielgud’s Ages of Man on my 17th birthday & waited by the Stage Door for an autograph. He stayed & chatted for an hour or so.

  10. sue aldred says:

    This started me thinking as I have nearly 50 years of memories of Shakespeare performances, some from way back and some recent. What a great project, good luck with it.

  11. Alan Somerset says:

    Would you welcome comments from over the water, about another Stratford. I’m most interested, and would like to keep up with what you are doing.

  12. Kanga Morgan says:

    I would like to comment on my earliest memories from my childhood – I watched Merchant of Venice in a Tamil translation that was performed about 60 years ago by a South Indian company. It got me hooked on plays in general and Shakespeare in particular

  13. Anne Martin says:

    I’ve only just found this. Have you collected lots of memories? Mine go back to Vanessa Redgrave’s Rosalind, and many performances in the 1960’s. I’ve seen all the Shakespeare productions in the RST since 1964 and find I remember some and others left little impression. When I say many, Iadmit to seeing David Warner’s Hamlet more than 20 times.

    • Sylvia Morris says:

      Thank you for your comment I’ve spoken to several people about the David Warner Hamlet and hope to do more recording in the new year. Do you live anywhere near Stratford by any chance? Bes wishes for a happy Christmas!

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