I have read two memoirs written by actresses recently, namely Zawe Ashton and Mara Wilson. Despite their very different career paths, both clearly have mixed feelings about the industry and how it operates.
Zawe Ashton’s memoir ‘Character Breakdown’ has an unusual but brilliant structure switching between prose sections about different auditions and roles she has played, and scenes from her life in the form of a play script as she makes the transition to roles in Hollywood. Each chapter begins with the “character breakdown” of the audition – in other words, a short description of the role and the type of actor they are looking to cast. Some chapters are about the auditions or roles themselves, and others draw on events in her life at the time. Continue reading
I went to see ‘Wise Children’ at the Old Vic theatre in Waterloo last week after Rebecca of bookishbeck won a pair of tickets and very kindly offered her spare one to me. I also managed to track down a copy of the book from the library and read it this week. ‘Wise Children’ is Angela Carter’s final novel published in 1991 a year before her death and the stage adaptation is Emma Rice’s first project with her new theatre company (also called Wise Children) since leaving her role as artistic director at Shakespeare’s Globe in 2016.
Dora and Nora Chance are the illegitimate twin daughters of one of the great Shakespearean actors, Sir Melchior Hazard, whose twin brother Peregrine is believed to be dead. As Dora and Nora celebrate their 75th birthday towards the end of the 20th century, Melchior is about to turn 100 (and possibly Peregrine too…). The story is narrated by Dora who looks back on the sisters’ humble beginnings in south London brought up by the eccentric Grandma Chance and their career as a double act as chorus girls in the weird and wonderful world of Hollywood, theatre and music hall variety shows. Continue reading
Bloomsbury Book Club Grantchester Christmas Special
On Wednesday night, I attended the Bloomsbury Institute Book Club Grantchester Christmas Special event at Bedford Square in central London with author James Runcie and scriptwriter Daisy Coulam discussing how the first book in the Grantchester Mysteries series, ‘Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death’ was dramatised for television by ITV. Continue reading
I thought I would try Eleanor Catton’s first novel ‘The Rehearsal’ before tackling her Man Booker Prize-winning epic ‘The Luminaries’ at a later date. Although difficult to summarise the plot as such, ‘The Rehearsal’ is essentially about the aftermath of an affair between a music teacher and one of his seventeen year old students, Victoria. The story behind the scandal is later turned into a play by a local drama school known as the Institute and one of its stars, Stanley, has unknowingly become involved with Victoria’s younger sister, Isolde. Continue reading