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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  August 7, 2022 3:30pm-4:00pm BST

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rise in temperatures continuing to rise in land, getting close to 30 degrees in the london area on monday afternoon. temperatures will continue to climb through the rest of the week, particularly across england and wales. heat wave conditions developing in many places here, and friday we could be meeting 36 degrees in the south. hello, this is bbc news. i'm shaun ley, and these are the headlines... after a weekend of heavy violence between israel and palestinian militants, hopes are high of a possible ceasefire following the deaths of at least 31 palestinians. the two conservative party leadership contenders vying to be the next prime minister outline how they plan to help people cope with the rising cost of living, but former prime minister gordon brown says much more action is needed. nearly 170,000 tonnes of grain and sunflower oil leave on a second convoy of ships out of ukaine after russia's blockade caused global shortages.
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warnings that millions of children in england could go hungry this summer because councils have reduced or scrapped free school meal vouchers over the school holidays. now on bbc news, it's time for hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk. i'm stephen sackur, and this is the stage of the royal shakespeare theatre in stratford—upon—avon, birthplace of william shakespeare. 400 years and more after his death, his words and stories still resonate around the world, transcending languages and borders. well, my guest today is the just—retired artistic director of the royal shakespeare company, greg doran. why do we continue to make much ado
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about william shakespeare? gregory doran, welcome to hardtalk. thank you. nice to be here. well, it's a real pleasure to be on your stage here at the royal shakespeare company. you first set foot on this stage 35 years ago. idid. in fact, this month, it's 50 years since i saw my first show at the rsc, which was eileen atkins in as you like it. and my mum had packed us all into the back of her beige mini and we had come down from preston, and i saw the show and i was just completely blown away. and apparently i said to my mum on the way back, "that's what i want to do when i grow up." so i must have grown up. and you are one of those people
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who achieved your ambition, your dream, because, for the last ten years, you've been artistic director here. that's right. 35 years in total with the rsc, the royal shakespeare company. it's coming to an end. how big a wrench is it going to be? oh, it's going to be... well, i hope not to sever my ties with the company altogether. i have one more production to do after this. next year is a big anniversary year because it's 400 years since the publication of shakespeare's folio, first folio. so i'm going to be around certainly until the end of next year, and hopefully supporting whoever it is who follows me. here's something you said a while ago that i want you to explain to me, because it's really quite striking, almost remarkable. you said, "i suspect that i have filled that god—shaped hole in my "consciousness with shakespeare." yeah. does that mean shakespeare is your religion? do you know, that's a quote
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by sartre, who said in the secular age, that most people have a god—shaped hole in their consciousness. and i recognised that i probably had filled mine with shakespeare. er, it's certainly a better fit than the bible. ifind more wisdom, more truth in shakespeare than i do in the bible. it has sustained me. it is... my passion for it is... ..means that my life has been spent, largely, trying to convey that enthusiasm and share that enthusiasm with as wide a group of people as possible. and all of those plays you have put on, you find, what, sort of keys to meaning about why you're here, why we're all here? yeah, certainly, that's the case. i regard shakespeare as a sort of passport through my life. he's been there at every stage of my life and appealed to me at different stages in my life. so, you know, as a young... as a child, i was really grabbed
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by stories of fairies and people being turned into donkeys and witches and ghosts and battles and shipwrecks and all that stuff. and then i guess, as i grew into my teens, what surprised me was that shakespeare knew who i was and said things that i was thinking, you know, about love or aboutjealousy or about ambition or whatever. and he seemed to put them into better words than i had to express them. donald sinden once said, "man cannot live by bard alone." and i sort of feel as though i kind of have, though i have directed other stuff and other things and really greatly enjoyed those. but, you see, to me, shakespeare is like a magnet that attracts all the iron filings of what's going on in the world. so he continues to sort of regenerate. it's...
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it is an amazing property that shakespeare's plays have of being about the moment you're in now. there will be people listening to this, enjoying this conversation right around the world. some may be thinking, "give us a break from shakespeare. "stop being so anglo—centric in your cultural, sort of, vision." yeah. "he doesn't matter that much to us." so the question for you is, are you convinced shakespeare does, in that literal sense, translate? iam. we did a production... we did a tour to china in 2016, which was the first time the rsc had ever taken its main house shows to the people's republic. and i worried about it. i thought, here are plays about english history. i thought maybe the sense of dynastic succession might chime with them, but i worried, for instance, about how the humour would translate and how a character like falstaff would come across.
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and i needn't have worried because, as tony sher waddled on stage as sirjohn falstaff, i remember the very precise moment when he said... he'd just, as falstaff, delivered this whole tub of lies. and then he said, "lord, lord, how the world is given to lying." and the audience went up, because the world is given to lying, and everybody recognises that. so i think shakespeare's universality is not because we take him abroad, it's because he has been appropriated, whether it's by china, byjapan, by india, by germany or anywhere else in the english—speaking world, they have taken shakespeare to their hearts and adapted him and translated him and all the rest of it. so, you know, one touch of nature makes the whole world kin, as shakespeare himself said. you can find a shakespeare quote for almost anything. for everything. yeah. let me bring it back home.
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here in the united kingdom, here's what one... i'm sure a man you know well, one former playwright, resident at the rsc, the royal shakespeare company, says of shakespeare, mark ravenhill, he said he's so... shakespeare is so saturated in our culture that we're no longer in a position to determine how great he is because we can't get enough distance any more. do you think there's something in that? i think there is. what i find is that, you know, a lot of the work we do here in stratford is working with young people who of course are experiencing shakespeare for the first time. mm. i often think, when i'm starting a new production, "i wish i didn't know what happened in this play." and of course they don't. and i think that is the... for me, that's always been the starting point, that i'm directing my production to the 13—year—old boy i was sitting up there in the gods in 1973, and to me that is
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a constant refresher. i mean, i think there are times when a company like this, the danger is that it becomes a treadmill. and it's, "if it's tuesday, it must be as you like it." and you've got to get rid of that and make sure that each play is an event, whether that's because of the casting or the idea behind the production or the conversation with other productions, if you like, or other plays. i want to think more about that 13—year—old kid who might have been in the stalls or up in the circle. when you were that kid, in the 1970s, culture was very different. it was. the kid of today is being brought up with computer games, with sort of a quick fix, quick hit, internet—driven culture, which might make him or her less inclined to be interested in william shakespeare. of course, i'm generalising massively, but the
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culture has changed. it has. and does it make it more difficult to connect to shakespeare? we constantly look at what it is that is engaging people now. so, you know, the digital aspect has become very, very important. i did a production of the tempest, shakespeare's most magical play, and i remember saying to my team, "look, you know, in shakespeare's "day, he was using high tech." he was using the technology available for the jacobean masques, which included lighting effects and stage machinery. and what is it that we would need now to astonish an audience? and we created that through extraordinary pioneering digital effects of... so ariel was both an actor on the stage, but also an avatar in the...in the air. and the avatar moved at exactly the same time as ariel did on the stage
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with no latency at all. and what that grabbed was a young audience who kind of went, "0h, "i get this language, i want to see that production." well, there's a question of language. do you change the language? how much can you play with shakespeare's words to make them...? you know, these are the words that many people sort of use when it comes to trying to find a way of connecting — relevance, accessibility, connection. can you change the words to achieve that? well, i remember doing... when we did king lear and we took it in fact to new york, and somebody, a young woman came up to me and said, "i was amazed. "i could understand everything. "and i had no idea that you were going to change "all the words and put it into modern english." and i said, "we didn't." that was as shakespeare wrote it in, you know, jacobean period, 400 years ago. but there's no difficulty with the language as long as you get actors who really know how to do it speaking that language. and what about the settings? because here we sit
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on the stage, which currently is the stage for richard iii. right. you could, and i think in the past people have, they've played with the settings of richard iii and a host of other plays by making them truly modern. you know, it could be nazi germany. it could be putin's russia. yeah. is that all fair game? are there any red lines which you think, you know, they push shakespeare too far? you know, he's robust. he can... he really can take it. and i think that part of the reinvention is what makes us keep on going back to him, because, you know, he's been reinvented as great... one of the greatest musicals of the 20th century in west side story — perfect, extraordinary piece. he's been reinvented as verdi's falstaff, one of the greatest operas ever written, you know. so there are many ways in which that reinvention happens, but he, we keep on going back to him because he's given us this wealth of extraordinary stories and characters that we can relate to. and he does it all in the most
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memorable language. you have overseen the royal shakespeare company in, if i can put it this way, the sort of beginnings of the age of woke. a discussion, particularly in this country, but not just in this country, which involves culture in a discussion about diversity, representation, identity. yeah. is that a pressure you have felt? and has it affected the way you've produced shakespeare? i think it definitely has. i don't know that i would call it a pressure. i think it's... it's really listening to what shakespeare himself says about theatre holding a mirror up to nature. and if it isn't reflecting the society in which you live, then you're not doing it right. so i, you know, i think that particularly about diversity, you know, if you, as a young, maybe as a young black guy growing up in tottenham or a young asian
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woman growing up in coventry, say, and you look at the rsc's work or you see our live froms in the cinema maybe, and you don't see somebody who looks like you up on that screen... which historically you haven't. yeah. well, i mean, you know, the first black actor to appear in stratford was in 1958. and we have... i think we have actually pioneered diversity. er... and, you know, ithink when paapa essiedu played hamlet in 2016, that was, that was, you know, out of time. that was way beyond what we ought to have done. it ought to have happened earlier. but i think, you know, we are... we are... so arthur hughes, who is playing richard at the moment, is the first disabled actor ever to play richard on this stage. you know, we had in 2018 charlotte arrowsmith, who is a deaf actor, became the first actor to play a major shakespeare role on this stage. she played cassandra
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in troilus and cressida. but not because she was a deaf actor. because she, like arthur, she's a brilliant actor. but this is where it gets a little bit complicated. yeah. so let's take this bit by bit, and we're talking diversity here. yeah. to what extent do you believe that colour—blind casting is the future? i think it's often colour—conscious casting that is the future, but i think there are many, many different ways of doing it. what we're trying to do is to reflect the society we are in, and whether that's to do with disability, ethnicity, gender... that's terribly difficult, isn't it? well, let's take gender. arguably, that's even more difficult in shakespeare, because he wrote at a time when, frankly, actors were all men. yeah. so he did limit the number of women... he did, he did. ..that he wrote about. i mean, one of the great actors of our time, fiona shaw, expressed a real serious frustration with shakespeare. she said, frankly, there aren't enough good female roles,
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particularly roles that can be played through your career. and she said, "i've done shakespeare, but frankly, "i'm bored with it." yeah. there's only so much a woman can get out of shakespeare. she did brilliantly reconceive richard ii, you see. and that was one of the very first successful pieces of regendering. so take timon of athens, 0k? timon of athens, a great... i mean, timon has 30% of the roles. this great... this great wealthy guy who loses all his money and becomes a misanthrope. well, we did a production with kathryn hunter playing timon, and there was no... there was no problem at all because timon isn't defined by his gender, he's defined by his situation, and therefore it worked. now, some people don't like it... do you think you leave some people behind when you do this? yeah. probably we do, but also we bring others along with us. and how far do you take it? you referenced arthur hughes, who is getting rave reviews
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for playing richard iii. and as you say, he's a richard iii who has a genuine disability, which is very visible on stage. and that is seen as sort of, quote unquote, authentic, a real lived experience. but how far do you take that? there's a real debate... there is. ..across acting and across theatre and other forms of drama, saying, you know, do you now have to have a gay person playing a gay character? yeah. how far do you take lived experience? well, taking richard, the extraordinary thing about arthur's lived experience of disability — he has radial dysplasia in his right arm — is that when those insults land on richard, they're not landing on an actor wearing a prosthetic. they�* re. . . they're landing on an actor who from birth has lived with prejudice and sometimes with people underestimating him. deformed, unfinish'd, sent before my time into this
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breathing world, scarce half made up, and that so lamely and unfashionable that dogs bark at me as i halt by them! whyl...? nor would i say that it is no longer possible for non—disabled actors to play richard iii. but what i would say is what he brings from his lived experience is something very particular. nor would i say that i think you have to have adolescent—onset idiopathic scoliosis, which is what we know richard has, because we found it in the car park. nor do i think we have to have an obese alcoholic play falstaff or a scottish murderer play macbeth. but i think there are times when... ..i think you have to... you have to look. you know, i think this goes back to, for instance, 0thello in the, what, the late �*80s, i would say, when suddenly it felt that it was no longer appropriate... this company made an absolute policy. no longer appropriate to have a white actor...
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having a white actor black up. ..playing a black character. completely. but what you then got was a generation of, you know, you've got some fantastic actors with great classical chops coming through. but until we gave them the opportunity, until they were allowed to show what talent they had and they could do, we didn't know. and the same, i would say, with arthur that, in terms... until we consciously looked to see what talent was out there in, you know, of whatever limb difference they had, we wouldn't have known the talent that is there. i love the passion, but i'm also mindful of what the very successful black actor david harewood said just a couple of months ago. he said the royal shakespeare company needs to move with the times. he said the reality is that many young actors, they're much more concerned with sort of getting a hit on amazon or netflix than they are treading these boards here. he said, i hope theatres can survive, but they are going to have to move with the times and do
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different forms of work. yeah. if they want to. he's dead, dead right. i mean, in that there are huge opportunities and different kinds of platforms. i think what many actors find is that they get the sort of root here. they get it at its purest form, and that's why they want to come back. that somehow working on shakespeare, and live in front of an audience... and that's. .. you know, because of the live froms, we broadcast them all, but that gives them an experience which is very, very special. i mean, over the years, we have reduced the length of the contracts. we've tried different ways of cutting the cake. but there are always going to be actors who do want to be here and are going to shun netflix for a season or two. i want to end back with a reflection on you, this place. 35 years ago, your first role as an actor was
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in merchant of venice. correct. playing shylock was antony, sir antony sher. now, you and he formed an amazing relationship. you were partners, you became married in a... i think you had a civil union then you enjoyed the fact you could get married. yeah. it was an extraordinary relationship. sadly, he's no longer here. yeah. he passed away. how difficult does that make it being here now? because your association with this place is also your association with your husband. it is. ithink... yeah, you're right. in plato's symposium, there is a story about the fact that at the beginning of time, we as human beings were four—armed, four—legged creatures, and at some point zeus decided we should be cut in half, and we've spent the rest of our creation trying to find that other half. and when you do find that other
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half, then you find... you feel complete. and with tony, i felt that, and i think he felt that with me — that we were no longer one of two, but half of one. and the work... being able to not only have a home life, but to be able to work together — we did seven shakespeares together, i think — was... was a joy. do not make me mad! ragged breathing i will not trouble thee, my child; farewell: we'll no more meet, no more see one another. but yet... ..thou art my flesh, my blood... ..my daughter. you know, it's not eight
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months yet since he left. i don't feel he's somehow sitting on a cloud somewhere. but i do feel, you know, during the rehearsals for richard iii, for instance, a play that he had his fingerprints all over, i did feel him sitting like a bad prosthetic hump on my shoulder, sort of urging me to try harder, to explore deeper, to accept nothing but the best, which is... which in a way is his legacy, and i hope something of our legacy together. but, yes, i... he was my... he was my all—the—world. here's what he said about you and shakespeare. he said, "how lucky am i, married to a great shakespearean. "that has been the greatest gift that he" — that is you, greg — "could have possibly given me. "he continues to teach me about shakespeare." now, he said that six, six or so years ago. but it's an extraordinary thing for him to say about you.
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he taught me more about shakespeare than i ever knew. from beginning to end. yeah, i mean, shakespeare... you know, shakespeare has a way of articulating every human thought and every human experience. and i know that, when he died, i was comforted by people who said he's, you know, he's... "you'll feel him in the breeze. "you'll. "u you know. and i remember him playing king lear and holding cordelia, his dead daughter, in his arms and saying, "thou'lt come no more. "never, never, never, never, never." and until he died, i didn't know, really, why shakespeare has lear repeat that word five times. and now i know.
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because the idea that you will never, never see him again is... ..trying to articulate and understand what that actually means. and i know that, but it's... it's... it's nevertheless... it's painful. it's very... it's very painful. yeah. greg doran, thank you so much forjoining me on hardtalk. thank you very much indeed. thank you, stephen. hello there. it's fair to say that rainfall has not been distributed evenly
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across the uk in the last five weeks or so. in hampshire where there is a hosepipe ban in force. at the moment we've had no rain in 0diham since the start ofjuly, whereas in the highlands there's been almost ten inches of rain and we've seen a few spots of rain and drizzle today in western scotland. that's why the temperatures here have been a bit lower, but on the whole a warmer afternoon than it was yesterday with temperatures widely into the mid 20s across england and wales in the sunshine. 0vernight tonight we'll have clear skies in many places. we'll see a little more rain approaching the far north west of scotland by the end of the night. but ahead of it, those temperatures will fall away to around 11 or 12 degrees. there are some much warmer nights on the way later on in the week. this is how we start the week, though, and we've got some rain. and, again, it's in the highlands and islands of scotland, but elsewhere it's going to be dry, nothing more than some fair weather cloud. and for many it's going to be blue skies, light winds, temperatures continuing to rise. a little bit cooler around the coast with some sea breezes.
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but inland temperatures getting close to 29 degrees in the south east of england. and those temperatures will continue to climb through the rest of the week, particularly across england and wales, where we're likely to move into heatwave conditions. those temperatures are climbing to 36 degrees probably in southern parts of england by friday. and the heat is building underneath this large area of high pressure. it's a familiar story. we've got some weak weather fronts just running into the far north—west of scotland, hence the rain that we've got here. but even that will tend to get pushed away, i think, on tuesday with sunshine developing across more of scotland. and it's going to be a sunny day for northern ireland and across england and wales, and those temperatures continue to rise. we've got the mid 20s in eastern parts of scotland, very warm here, approaching 30 degrees, they'll think, in birmingham and cardiff and, looking further into the week, those temperatures continue to rise, even across scotland and northern ireland, we're looking at the mid 20s at least, but the highest temperatures are going to be across england and wales.
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this is where we're going to move into those heat wave conditions with temperatures getting up as high as 30 to 35 degrees in some places. so the heat is building underneath an area of high pressure. we've still got high pressure keeping it dry by the end of the week. the only change really is that stronger wind, but that's bringing in the heat from the near continent.
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it's four o'clock. you were watching bbc news. i'm shaun ley and these are the latest headlines. after a weekend of heavy violence between israel and palestinian militants, hopes are high of a possible ceasefire following the deaths of at least 31 palestinians. this is the scene live in gaza. we'll have all the latest. the two conservative party leadership contenders vying the next prime minister outline how they plan to help people cope with the rising cost of living. but former prime minister gordon brown says much more action is needed. i'm quite frankly shocked about the emphasis on tax cuts that will benefit the very richest sections of society. nearly 170,000 tonnes of grain and sunflower oil leaves on a second

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