Stage Trials for a Very Nervous Knight; Sir Derek Jacobi, Soon to Appear at Malvern, Talks to Helen Cross about a Life in the Theatre

By Cross, Helen | The Birmingham Post (England), August 24, 2000 | Go to article overview

Stage Trials for a Very Nervous Knight; Sir Derek Jacobi, Soon to Appear at Malvern, Talks to Helen Cross about a Life in the Theatre


Cross, Helen, The Birmingham Post (England)


'The older I get and the more I do, the more nervous I become,' confesses Sir Derek Jacobi. 'It seems such a silly way to earn a living. I keep thinking 'why put yourself through these terrors?''.

This nervous knight is one of our greatest actors. He has starred in both popular TV and legendary classical drama. His sparkling career ranges from two years at the Birmingham Rep in the 1960s to the popular Cadfael TV series and the current Hollywood blockbuster Gladiator.

This year he returns, after four years, to his first love, and his greatest fear, the stage. 'There are no safety nets in theatre,' Jacobi smiles. 'The buzz is huge but this makes it very frightening.

'If it goes wrong, everyone sees it. When you're working with a camera, you can do it again. But on stage you never know how the audience are going to react; it's a two-way traffic in the theatre.'

But Jacobi loves the stage above film and TV because the actor has the freedom to make all artistic decisions about his performance.

'All the choices are there on show. There is no editor and no-one has done weird and wonderful things with visuals or music. You just see all the actor.'

Here he gestures from his head to his toes. Jacobi uses his hands all the time when speaking, like the most delicate of classical conductors. 'The theatre is the only place where the actor can make it happen.'

Jacobi knows the stage actor must deliver something very special: 'It's very easy to get rusty,' he says. 'I do live in terror of losing the trick of it. I've been out of practice for four years and I feel that I have to get the trick back. Part of this is facing an audience.'

The trick he talks of is insight and instinct, not artificial craftiness. It is ten days now until the world premiere of the play which has brought Jacobi back to the British stage. God Only Knows, which opens in Malvern at the end of August, is set in an isolated Tuscan farmhouse where four British tourists are holidaying. Jacobi plays a very unexpected stranger who arrives at the farmhouse armed and on the run.

Beyond this brief outline all is a mystery. The creative team are fanatical about not yet letting the world know the controversy which rages at the heart of the play.

The production reunites Jacobi with Hugh Whitemore, the acclaimed writer responsible for the duo's hit show about Alan Turing, Breaking the Code.

For Whitemore, it is his new play's hidden controversy which makes it particularly exciting: 'One hopes the audience will go home arguing furiously in the car,' he laughs.

'I want the audience involved, not just sitting there. If a play doesn't stay with them once they've left the theatre, what's the point?'

Jacobi also admits to being curious as to how the audience will react to the play's subject matter: 'There is something in the argument of the play which could very well upset people,' he says enticingly. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Stage Trials for a Very Nervous Knight; Sir Derek Jacobi, Soon to Appear at Malvern, Talks to Helen Cross about a Life in the Theatre
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.