Shakespearean actor to discuss 2 classics

Regicide, infanticide, sleepless nights and angry ghosts — just a few of the things Shakespeare’s Richard III and Macbeth have in common. What’s more, both title roles were originated by “Shakespeare’s leading man,” Richard Burbage.

On April 28, Shakespearean actor Gareth Armstrong, a former member of the Royal Shakespeare Company who also has portrayed both characters, will present “Hand in Hand to Hell: Richard III and Macbeth — An Actor’s Perspective,” the fifth annual Helen Clanton Morrin Lecture, for the Performing Arts Department in Arts & Sciences.

The event is free and open to the public and will begin at 11 a.m. in Edison Theatre.

A native of Wales, Armstrong has performed Shakespeare in more than 40 countries. He previously presented his one-man shows Shylock and Doctor Prospero at the University in 2001 and 2002, respectively.

“Hand in Hand to Hell” will illuminate Richard III and Macbeth from the standpoint of the performer, combing speeches and soliloquies from the plays with textual insights, historical speculation and theatrical anecdotage.

“The plays are striking not only for the growth in Shakespeare’s artistry, but for the demands and expectations that these eponymous roles make on their actors,” Armstrong said. “How much was the playwright influenced by the player, and how much were both affected by their 20 years of creative partnership and the expectations of that most important element, their audience?

“Having inhabited the skins of these mass-murdering ogres, I aim to examine their motives, their personalities and their language in an illustrative and entertaining way, and to reveal why Shakespeare dubbed them both ‘hellhounds.'”

Armstrong has performed at major regional theaters in the United Kingdom and London’s West End. In productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, he has played Oberon, Puck, Lysander and Snug. In Twelfth Night, he has played Orsino, Malvolio and Andrew Aguecheek.

The Morrin lecture was established in 1998 in memory of 1994 alumna Helen Clanton Morrin by her children — Peter Morrin, Kevin Morrin and Sheila Humphreys — as well as by friends and colleagues. Previous speakers include the renowned Shakespearean actress Jane Lapotaire and two-time Tony Award-winner Zoe Caldwell.

For more information, call 935-5858.

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