The Lunatic, The Lover and The Poet
Brian Bedford (compiled and performed by)
Brian Bedford performs his one-man show exploring the emotion and psychology
behind Shakespeare the man, as well as Shakespeare the playwright. The
show was conceived of both as an actor's celebration of Shakespeare
and as an act of Shakespearean scholarship. Bedford was born in England
in 1935 (of Irish Catholic extraction) and has since become a naturalizedUS
citizen. He is, along with William Hutt and Christopher Plummer, probably
the pre-eminent Shakespearean star actor at the Canadian Stratford Festival.
Bedford's longstanding relationship to the Stratford festival in Canada
began in 1975 and he has played numerous leading parts including Tartuffe,
Richard III and Macbeth. His directing credits include The Winter's
Tale, Waiting for Godot, Equus, Titus Andronicus,
Coriolanus and Racine's Phaedra. Bedford's Irish background
and family connections, his British education, and his subsequent success
in both American popular culture and Canadian Shakespearean theatre
point to the numerous border-crossings that an international artist
of his calibre enables. Such crossings necessarily put pressure on any
concept of a national theatre framed by a particular national (Canadian,
american, English, or otherwise) identity.
Studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (which now offers a Shakespeare Certificate that "provides a standard by which students can assess their level of competence in the speaking and performance of Shakespeare's language"), Bedford's classmates included Peter O'Toole, Albert Finney, and Alan Bates. Playing Hamlet at the Liverpool Repertory Company led him to highly successful performances in London's West End and at Stratford-upon-Avon, where he worked with Sir John Gielgud and Peter Brook, among others.
Earning five Tony nominations for his work on Broadway, Bedford won the Tony Award for his performance in Molière's The School for Wives. Other awards include the Obie and New York Drama Desk Awards for his role in The Knack, a Drama Desk award for Two Shakespearean Actors, a Shakespearean adaptation by Richard Nelson, and the L.A. Drama Critics Award for Equus.
Bedford's television appearances include episodes of Frasier, More Tales of the City, Cheers, Nixon, Scarlett, Murder She Wrote and Grand Prix. He also supplied the voice for the title character in Disney's Robin Hood. The Lunatic, the Lover and the Poet, his one-man Shakespearean evening, has been widely performed around the world.
This performance was recorded before an audience at the Glenn Gould Studio in the CBC Broadcast Centre, Toronto, Canada, March 1995.
Audio Clip: Shakespeare's Early Life
Bedford, Brian. The Lunatic, the Lover and the Poet. Audiocassette. CBC Radio. 2000.