Arguments with England: A Memoir

Michael Blakemore, Author
Michael Blakemore, Author . Faber and Faber $26 (404p) ISBN 978-0-571-22445-6
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-571-22446-3
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An unwilling medical student in Australia in 1949 when touring actor Robert Morley encouraged him to try drama school, Blakemore (b. 1928) worked his way to London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. He then landed a succession of small parts with British repertory theaters. Struggling with a variety of roles and directors, he gained confidence in his own ability to interpret a broad range of characters. Eventually, he realized his real gift was in conceptualizing the play as a whole, i.e., directing. His first success, 1968's A Day in the Death of Joe Egg , led to a brilliant directing career. This memoir will give readers new understanding of how actors internalize roles and a glimpse of what it's like to be a director, too (although Blakemore ends this memoir just as his directing career is taking off). His insider's history of British theater is also an outsider's history of British culture. Growing up Australian, coming into his prime in England, returning to Australia to revisit his roots and then returning to work in Thatcher's Britain, Blakemore comes to his "final argument with England": her "carelessness" with her colonial subjects. This is an insightful guide to the development of modern British theater. Photos. Agent, Mark Lucas. (Sept.)

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