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5 minutes with Simon Callow

PUBLISHED: 17:41 12 August 2010 | UPDATED: 17:27 20 February 2013

5 minutes with Simon Callow

5 minutes with Simon Callow

Now firmly established as a national treasure, Simon Callow loves Sussex and is a patron of Theatre Royal Brighton. Here we talk to him about Sussex and his one man play on Shakespeare

Simon Callow came to Brighton on tour recently in his new one-man play Shakespeare - The man from Stratford by Jonathan Bate. We spoke to him when he came.


Tell us a little about your new show. Is it your chance to perform some speeches you havent done yet?!
It certainly is a chance to do that its rather shaking to go from Macbeth to Lear to Hamlet in about three minutes.
But what the show is about is trying to get inside Shakespeares head, to find out what made him, how he was in the world, what his contemporaries felt about him. By the end you should feel that youve met him.


More seriously, is it for Shakespeare lovers only, or is there something for everyone?
If you are interested in what it is to be a human being, than Shakespeares your man.
A lot of people are daunted by his work, feeling that its in some ways inaccessible or not for the likes of them, but I hope the show proves that theres scarcely a human experience that he doesnt seem to know from the inside, and for which he finds the best words, many of which have passed into the language.
Whether you know it or not, barely a day goes part without your quoting Shakespeare


You are well known as a major actor on stage and screen. I remember seeing you first in an episode of The Sweeney in the 1970s. Did you ever think then that you would achieve the success you have now?
The Sweeney came as a complete surprise. I never expected to act on film or in television: I saw myself as a stage actor and thought Id join the RSC or the National and stay there for the rest of my life.
That I didnt has been fascinating and fun but I would still have loved to have been part of a great theatre company like Oliviers or Peter Halls in the 60s, but they dont exist any more. I write a lot about this in my new book My Life in Pieces.


You will be appearing at Theatre Royal Brighton, where you are an honorary patron, what is special about the theatre for you?
The auditorium is fantastic, as is the audience, always lively, always interested, always generous. And most important the management and the staff are really excited about their jobs: they love theatre, they love Theatre Royal Brighton and they love their audiences. This makes all the difference in the world.


You spend a lot of your free time in Brighton. What do you like so much about the city?
It has a unique atmosphere permissive but stately at the same time. Theres a whiff of naughtiness in the air, but elegance too.
The sea is endlessly exciting to be near: I do my best writing sitting in front of it; whenever I look up its changed character totally.


Do you have any other special places in Sussex or any particular memories of it?
Climping for pleasure Bailiffscourt Hotel with its superb cuisine and blazing log fires and four-poster beds and generous welcome to my mad unruly hounds, the boxers Biff and Roxy.
And Chichester, where I have been very happy in and out of
the theatre.


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