Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare Project
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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.

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