Saturday, 30 July 2011

Don't hold your breath...

...even the books I'm reading are about the theatre.

Who could resist a book with a title that is such a dreadful pun Something Written in the State of Denmark?

This is a blog to book tome that I treated myself to when I was at the National Theatre. It is the account of one season at the RSC by a member of the cast and cover the 10 months that forms 'The Season'. To make it more exciting this is the 2008 season which saw David Tennant and Patrick Stewart playing opposite each other in Hamlet.

Osborn doesn't dwell on the stars, they are in fact mentioned only in passing and you really get the feeling that in the RSC names don't matter to the company - it is only the audience that cares about who is in the play. The play really is the thing!

I had no idea before reading this about just how hard being an RSC actor is. The actors have to know 3 plays inside out and perform them in rotation throughout the year. In addition to their main parts they also have several understudy roles and effectively have to know at least 5 or 6 parts fully for a season. I thought that I had a good memory but this just blew me away and when you read just how hard everyone works, tech crew as well it is easier to see why the ticket costs are quite high. Everyone deserves every penny!

I loved this book, and already have the other RSC blog-to-book on order (Exit Pursued by a Badger) the only problem - now I desperately want to go to Stratford-upon-Avon and see a complete season!


  1. Sounds great - never really think about the lesser (sorry, horrible word) stars in a company like the RSC having a great story to tell, but theirs are probably the best stories. Will have a look for Exit Pursued by a Badger - just because it is a fantastic title.

  2. I've read them both and although I enjoyed Something Written In The State Of Denmark, I thought Exit, Pursued By A Badger was better. I thought Nick Asbury was more likeable and it's fascinating to read about the epic-ness of putting on 8 plays!
    Let me know which one you preferred :)

  3. Just to be contrary I think I preferred Something Written - might be because the library copy of Badger smelt bad and I rushed through it! I will get around to buying it and I know that I am going to read them both more than once.

  4. I was talking about both books to a colleague on the shop floor one time and a customer overheard us and asked me which I preferred, then said he liked Something Written better. So maybe it's me who is being contrary? :)