Dench: Young actors ignore stage – Cheltenham Literature Festival

14 10 2009
Dench: Young actors ignore stage

Dame Judi Dench has claimed young actors dismiss theatre work to find fame in film and television.

The 74-year-old Oscar-winning actress – who revealed she was criticised when age 22 she appeared as Ophelia in Hamlet “straight out of drama school” in 1957 – was speaking at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival.

Dame Judi said: “Probably the majority of young actors want to make a big impression in television or film straight away.”

She continued: “I wish that young people now – and it’s not very fashionable – learnt a bit about our fantastic heritage of theatre and the people who’ve gone before, learnt a bit about the history of the theatre, because it’s phenomenal. It is nowhere better in the world than here.

“We have such a huge history of the most extraordinary performances and productions and directors and actors and designers, everything that I wish wasn’t forgotten. It is not forgotten by a lot of people but it is forgotten by most young people coming up. There’s always something to learn. It’s so exciting to read about the history of other people in the part.”

Interviewed on stage by Notes On A Scandal director Sir Richard Eyre, she said of her appearance in Hamlet: “I was very criticised … they said how dare the so-called National Theatre employ somebody straight out of drama school?”

But she revealed she improved by watching others, saying: “I never used to go to my dressing room. We used to always stand in the wings and watch other people.”

Judi Denh on Amazon

Judi Dench on Amazon

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