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tv   Meet the Author  BBC News  October 22, 2017 10:45pm-11:01pm BST

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out there, was happening out there, out there, nobody really thought about it too much, and now, people are beginning to think. i think that is no bad thing. i think we were a little bit complacent. don't agree with me, please. i'm not going to. thank youi!) please. i'm not going to. thank you(!) presumably we will go halfway through the alphabet before we get too... ruth...? yasmin... (!) laughter cannot wait! that is it for the newspapers for the moment, we will find out what that story in the sun is, make sure you join us. in the meantime, goodbye for now, it is time for meet the author. william shakespeare had a younger brother, richard. but we know even less about him than we do about the bard. the historical novelist bernard cornwell now brings him to life as the narrator
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of fools and mortals, his new book set in theatreland in london in the 15905, where the brothers are leading more less separate lives. it is a tale of rivalry, jealousy, and a little blackmail. set during rehearsals for the first night of a midsummer night's dream. welcome. it's a change of scene for you, bernard, because you are best known as someone who writes in battle mode, really. people are found with muskets or waving swords in many of your books.
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what is it that fascinates you about the 15905, and theatre in london? well, it's just that it's the beginning of a whole new industry which has obviously prospered mightily ever since, but before the 1570s there were no permanent playhouses. no theatres, if you like. the first is built in 1574. 20 years later, they are in full flow. we have a whole new industry in london. it has to be london because london is the only city big enough to support it. and sha kespeare‘s company, the lord chamberlain's men, worked at a place called "the theatre". a name that has stuck. i mis—spent my summers on stage, and i have done for the last 11 years. that experience has absolutely fascinated me. i mean, what was it like in sha kespeare‘s time, putting on a play? is it any different to today? and so, in a sense, it's an attempt to actually recreate the world of shakespeare's theatre.
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and you've done something rather cunning. you've brought in as the narrator of the story richard, one of shakespeare's brothers, a younger brother who is a real man. we know that he existed, but we know almost nothing about him. so you've got a wonderful blank sheet of paper! i love blank sheets of paper, and richard is the most blank of all of the sheets. shakespeare had three brothers — edmund, giles and richard. we know something about the first two. edmund became an actor and died much too young. he is buried in what is now southwark cathedral. but richard, we have his birth date, or at least the date of his christening. we have his death date. and we have one court mention in between where he is fined for not attending church. that is it. so he's a completely blank slate. i think it's most unlikely that he went to london and became an actor, but why not? it gives me a chance to tell the story... a chance to tell the story and explain that the brothers are estranged, more or less. at least, they have a very difficult relationship. which is partly due to professional rivalry. then you weave a story that involves a lost play, a lost manuscript. it is all set around the rehearsals for the first night of a midsummer night's dream, which is a play about putting on a play!
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putting on a play, yes! so we can see where you are going here? yes, it is a play that i love, i've twice played in a midsummer night's dream. and i think that was maybe the reason i chose it, because i know the play quite well. you know the plot. most people you ask if they can remember if they remember the plot to a midsummer night's dream, they would struggle. it's very convoluted. it has a lot of main characters. i'm a great believer that shakespeare knew what he was talking about when he said in romeo and juliet, "the two—hour traffic of our stage". usually, you cut a play down to about two hours, plus an interval. there's a lot going on in those two hours, there really is. and i suppose also it gives you the idea of the ferment of the playhouses of the time, you are giving the audience entertainment of every kind through the course of the evening. it's almost participatory, isn't it? yes, it's extraordinarily exciting. the playhouse was a whole new idea. up until then, if you were going to see a play you would go to an inn yard, probably,
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or maybe to a hall somewhere. and the play moved on, the cart moved on and you didn't see a play again for some weeks or months. but once you have a fixed playhouse in london, orjust outside of london, then the audience is the same, night after night. instead of needing three or four plays to keep going, you need about 30 plays a year. you need new material all the time. so the playwright is born. if there had not been a permanent theatre, if it wasn't for the bricks and mortar and the timber and the plaster, we wouldn't have shakespeare. he wouldn't have been needed. nobody would have paid him to write romeo and juliet or a midsummer night's dream. he might never have been. might never have been. and he was writing for money, of course. writing for money, and making a great deal of money. the way to make money was to be a shareholder, and owner, of the company, and he is. it's quite natural that a story
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like this would bubble up. jealousy, professional rivalry. the theft of a text, because of course there was nothing to protect. no, there was no copyright. if you were an actor, you didn't get a copy of the play to learn your lines. you just got your part. so if you were playing duke theseus, you would have the line, you know, hippolyta's line, "i've never heard such such silly stuff, this is the silliest stuff that ever i heard." and then you would get your lines. and you would have to work out what else was going on! yes, it was like a jigsaw puzzle. you'd have to go, who's next? and you would have to do that in rehearsal. if you had too many copies of the play, someone‘s going to steal it, and if they steal it, then their company is going to put it on and you have no redress at all. so if you've got a great play like romeo and juliet, or midsummer, you certainly don't want the admiral‘s men across the river putting that on because you are losing half your audience.
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and that is the main spring of this plot? yes, i would like to think that the main spring of the plot is can we possibly make a success of this ridiculous play with fairies in it? but who knows? and in writing this story, which has elements of a romp about it, what does come through is your affection for the whole business, the fun of it and the stagecraft, and the smell of the greasepaint, as it were? yes, it is a huge affection. i like to think it is a tribute to everyone who works in the theatre, for all the pleasure they give us. when you had finished constructing the story, in terms of plot, and then given richard the characteristics which you were able to make up because we know nothing about him, did you find at the end that you got to know his brother at all better, or not? yes, i got to understand what william shakespeare was doing in the sense of being a sharer in a theatre company. and, the pressures on him to produce plays. there is this huge pressure to have new material all the time. and much of it is dross. but nevertheless, benjohnson was writing for the admiral‘s men, shakespeare's writing for his own company.
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there is pressure producing. "come on, will — we need plays." a remarkable writer like you has had such worldwide success with a whole string of novels, pretty much all set in the past but not entirely, but most of them. you must find yourself coming back to the core subjects that engross people and keep them interested, and the rivalry between two brothers is one of the classics, isn't it? yes, rivalry or conflict. somebody once said that every good novel begins by asking a question that the reader did not know that they wanted answered. it's got a very good opening line, this one. can you remember it off the top of your head? "i died just after the clock in the passageway struck nine," i think it is! well, it's not a bad beginning, and beginnings matter, don't they? beginnings matter, very much so. it was kurt vonnegut who said a novel begins by asking a question the reader did not know they wanted answered. and that actually, in a sense, is what you do. i mean, harry falls in love with anne, but harry is already married to catherine.
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you're off, because you want to know how it will end. bernard cornwell, author of fools and mortals, thank you very much. thank you. this weekend we have taken a battering courtesy of storm brian. scenes from the cornish coast. little ridge of pressure, this area will keep us busy in the week ahead, the attending weather from sweeping ahead across the british isles. bit ofa ahead across the british isles. bit of a breather for the ahead across the british isles. bit of a breatherfor the next ahead across the british isles. bit of a breather for the next few hours, showers clearing, skies chilly for a time, coming into the west, first signs of the weather front. by the time we get into monday morning, wet start for many,
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temperatures rising again. cloud and rainfiling. temperatures rising again. cloud and rain filing. pretty soggy miserable start, northern ireland nice to the morning, brighterweather start, northern ireland nice to the morning, brighter weather pushing from the west as the day goes on. eastern coast, particularly down towards the channel, struggling with thicker cloud and merck. biggest change, milderform thicker cloud and merck. biggest change, milder form monday. thicker cloud and merck. biggest change, milderform monday. monday into tuesday, this low is whirling away, whipping weather fronts across, mixed fare on tuesday. england and wales, cloudy, heavy rainfora time, england and wales, cloudy, heavy rain for a time, across hills, northern ireland and scotland, brighter but breezy, heavy showers from time to time. mild air sucked up from time to time. mild air sucked up to the south. 18 degrees in london, that mild air to the south, trying to nudge its way further north, to go to the middle part of the week. snaking its way across the british isles, a lot of uncertainty,
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like a seesaw, as to where that will sit, and where will get the warmest airand the sit, and where will get the warmest air and the wettest conditions. wednesday, cloudy wet weather across england and wales, further north, fresher feel, breezy as well, england and wales, further north, fresherfeel, breezy as well, but the best of the sunshine is here. gloomy conditions and milder air pushing north, on thursday, again, some uncertainty about the exact position, northern scotland looking brightest, southern england looking warmest. as for the end of the week, similar story, come the next weekend, some cooler air once again, make the most of the morning conditions on offer in the week ahead. this is bbc news. the headlines at 11pm. after a five—hour armed siege, armed police storm a bowling alley in nuneaton, freeing two hostages. one man has been arrested. he had gotten over his head like
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this and you're shouting, game over, get out! was screaming. we heard crying from kids. sajid javid says the government should consider borrowing more to build upto 300,000 new homes a year in england. the zimbabwean president, robert mugabe, is removed as a goodwill ambassador for the world health organisation two days after his controversial appointment. lewis hamilton moves a step closer to a fourth world championship after victory in the us grand prix. and at 11.30pm, the papers, including the times, which says the chancellor faces an ambush from fellow tories
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