LSW Session with David Rintoul
on the Nuts and Bolts of Interpreting Shakespeare
Sunday, 12th March 2000

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DAVID RINTOUL left Edinburgh University with an MA and then gained a scholarship to RADA.  Immediately after leaving RADA he appeared in Aladdin at the Connaught Theatre in Worthing and has never looked back.  Repertory seasons followed in Newcastle, Chester, Guildford and The Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh where he is shortly to return playing Theseus in Racine’s Phaedre.  Mr. Rintoul’s many credits include work with the celebrated Joint Stock Company, itself key in forging the history of British dramatic literature, developing the talents of such as Caryl Churchill and David Hare, where he appeared in the original productions of Fanshen, Speakers, Yesterday’s News, Devil’s Island, It’s a Mad, Mad World My Masters, Epsom Downs and An Optimistic Thrust; for the Royal National Theatre his appearances have included the role of Paris in The Trojan War Will Not Take Place, Faulkland in The Rivals (having previously played in Sheridan’s School for Scandal at Greenwich and on a tour of India in 1982) with the late Sir Michael Hordern and as Demetrius in A Midsummer’s Night Dream; he played Bolingbroke to Sir Derek Jacobi’s Richard II and Richmond/Edward IV to the same’s Richard III in the West End at the Phoenix Theatre; for the RSC he has been seen as Prince Hal in Henry IV, Parts I & II, in the Globe Season he was hailed for his appearances as Duke Senior/Duke Frederick in As You Like It (a play he had previously appeared in at the Birmingham Rep); at the Royal Court he has been seen in the original casts of Etta Jenks and Sergeant Ola and His Followers; he has twice played the title role in Macbeth, both at the Ludlow Festival and on an Old Vic Tour alongside appearing as Morell in Shaw’s Candida which he also essayed at both the Arts Theatre and the King’s Head; appeared as Sir Robert Chiltern in the lengthy West End run of Sir Peter Halls’ celebrated production of An Ideal Husband, appeared as Aimwell in a hailed production of The Beaux Stratagem at the Lyric, Hammersmith and even has been seen as Nick Arnstein in Funny Girl at Sheffield’s Crucible.  Now that’s what I call a career.

Mr. Rintoul’s career on television is equally distinguished.  He has played the title role of Dr. Finaly in Doctor Finaly for the first, second and third run of this successful series.  He has been seen as Sir John Philips in Inspector Alleyn and as Wheatley in the award winning broadcast of Kinsey; as John Cavendish in Mysterious Affair at Styles, as Archie Weir in the Weir of Hermiston and as Ewan Cameron in The Flight of the Heron.  Among his many other appearances have been key roles in Lord Peter Wimsey, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Warship, Crown Court, The Prince Regent, Henry VIII, Lillie, The Mallens, a celebrated Yasha in The Cherry Orchard, was Mr. Darcy in Pride & Prejudice for the BBC long before they’d heard of Colin Firth, as Boswell in Dialogue in the Dark and Dr. Carter in Private Practice, amongst a huge list of credits.   He has even played the Werewolf in The Legend of The Wereworld opposite Peter Cushing.

Editorial Comment - Generously Supply by Deborah Aita

On Sunday 12th March, David Rintoul gave a very instructive masterclass at the London Shakespeare Workout.   Four actors [Max Bonamy; Angus Pope; Helen Tennison & Adrian Fear] performed speeches and David gave suggestions to each.  Some suggestions were in the form of exercises to help the actor generally, and other's were aimed more at the delivery of the particular speech. Max began with an Edgar speech from 'King Lear'.   David gave Max a different  instruction for each version of the speech.   The first instruction was to do the speech as if Edgar had already made up his mind what his course of action would be, and to tell the audience what he had decided to do.    Max acted the part very well, but something seemed lacking.   However, when he performed the second  version  the speech came alive and was rivetting.  The instruction for this version was for the thoughts to occur to Edgar as he spoke to the audience, as if he were making his plans there and then.  The sense of immediacy and danger became palpable. Then Angus performed a speech from 'Romeo and Juliet', just before Romeo kills himself.  The speech was touching, although Angus seemed a little self-conscious (he hadn't done the speech for thirteen years!).  David reminded him that although he is close to collapse he should not let himself, as an actor, physically collapse and cut off his vocal and emotional power.  David cited the example of his movement teacher who believed that there should always be a hook under the bra strap (metaphorically speaking!) at the front of the chest that prevents the centre of the body from collapsing in on itself, and that the bigger the theatre the higher the hook  is pulled.  Another participant suggested that she would like to see Angus almost laughing at the absurdity of his situation as he prepares for suicide, and there was some discussion about Romeo's predicament and whether he should already have decided to commit suicide or whether he finally decides when he sees Juliet lying apparently dead.  Angus did the speech again, focussing on the irony at the beginning and taking more of a journey with the speech.  He performed it stunningly - you could have heard a pin drop!. Helen then performed a speech from 'All's Well That Ends Well'.   David commented on how refreshing it was to see this role performed in such a feisty way rather than the insipid, negative way it is often done.  It was agreed that her first version had a very public feel to it but that after working on the speech with David it became much more intimate and intense. He suggested some changes in the way she used her voice and asked her not to move her arms.  These simple actions brought about a remarkable change, a still, quiet version with much more emotional power. The last speech was from 'The Tempest', Caliban's 'this island belongs to me' speech.  The actor (Adrian Fear) gave an interesting performance and David made suggestions to help him clarify the words.    Someone mentioned seeing a production where Caliban had a West  Country accent and pointed out that Caliban should speak in a similar way to Prospero since he has learnt language only from Prospero.   There was some discussion about how physically threatening Caliban should be towards Prospero, and whether or not Prospero would have the confidence to stand his ground if Caliban charged at him.  David talked about empowerment and how an actor should always empower everything with it's appropriate qualities.  Therefore, in this scene, some of Prospero's power comes from the way he is empowered by the actor playing Caliban, and so any violence from Caliban should also have a quality of fear in it, fear of Prospero as a father figure. David Rintoul stressed the value of the actors' instinct throughout.  He offered, by way of example, his own experience of making some necessary cuts in a First Folio edition of a play for his touring company Acter.  When he came to compare his cut version to the Second Quarto edition he found that the changes he had made was almost all those that were found in the Quarto. In other words, he as an actor, had instinctively changed the same lines which sixteenth century actors had found necessary to cut four hundred years ago!   The actor's instinct knows what will and will not work.

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