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About Antony Sher
Film and television appearances include Mrs Brown, Alive and Kicking, The History Man, Macbeth and J.G. Ballard's Home.
Following his debut as a writer with Year of the King (1985), an account of playing Richard III, he has written four novels - Middlepost, Indoor Boy, Cheap Lives and The Feast - as well as other theatre journals, Woza Shakespeare! (co-written with his partner, the director Greg Doran) and Primo Time. His autobiography Beside Myself was published in 2001. His plays include I.D. (premiered at the Almeida Theatre, 2003) and The Giant(premiered at Hampstead Theatre, 2007).
He has published a book of his paintings and drawings, Characters (1989), and held exhibitions of his work at the National Theatre, the London Jewish Cultural Centre, the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield and the Herbert Gallery in Coventry.
Among numerous awards, he has won the Olivier Best Actor Award on two occasions (Richard III/Torch Song Trilogy and Stanley), the Evening Standard Best Actor Award (Richard III), and the Evening Standard Peter Sellers Film Award (for Disraeli in Mrs Brown). On Broadway, he won Best Solo Performer in both the Outer Critics' Circle and Drama Desk Awards for Primo. He has honorary Doctorates of Letters from the universities of Liverpool, Exeter, Warwick, and Cape Town. In 2000 he was knighted for his services to acting and writing.
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A remarkably candid autobiography, utterly involving and often startlingly revelatory, Beside Myself is an inspiration to young actors and a treat for seasoned theatregoers.
'I wish I'd read this book when I was starting out. Not only is Antony Sher one of the all-time greats of classical theatre, he also manages to be a writer of enormous skill and insight' David Tennant
Actor, author, artist Antony Sher grew up in the Old South Africa with a profound sense of being an outsider. Small, Jewish and secretly gay, he found refuge in theatre and escaped to London aged just nineteen.
In Beside Myself, Sher takes us to the heart of what it is to be an actor today, describing the journeys he undertakes in order to inhabit the roles for which he is famous - including The History Man (his TV breakthrough), Macbeth, Tamburlaine, Cyrano, Stanley Spencer and Richard III.
This edition, published to mark the author's 60th birthday, includes a new foreword and epilogue.
'the most unsparingly honest actor's autobiography I have ever read' Michael Billington, Guardian
'An extraordinary work of self-exploration' Irish Times
'A human, funny, nakedly direct memoir, beautifully written' Financial Times
'Fascinating... No praise can be too high' Sunday Times
'A masterclass. Any student or young actor could learn a great deal from studying Sher's extraordinarily thorough modus operandi' The Stage
'Antony Sher's insider journal is a brilliant exploded view of a great actor at work – modest and gifted, self-centred and selfless – a genius capable of transporting us backstage' Craig Raine, The Spectator (Books of the Year)
Year of the Fat Knight is Antony Sher's account – splendidly supplemented by his own paintings and sketches – of researching, rehearsing and performing one of Shakespeare's best-known and most popular characters, Sir John Falstaff, in the Royal Shakespeare Company's 2014 production of both parts of Henry IV, directed by Gregory Doran.
Both the production and Sher's Falstaff were acclaimed by critics and audiences – with Sher winning the Critics' Circle Award for Best Shakespearean Performance – and the shows transferred from Stratford to London, and then to New York, where Charles Isherwood in the New York Times described Sher's Falstaff as 'one of the greatest performances I've ever seen'.
This fascinating book tells us how Sher had initial doubts about playing the part at all, how he sought to reconcile Falstaff's obesity, drunkenness, cowardice and charm, how he wrestled with the fat suit needed to bulk him up, and how he explored the complexities and contradictions of this comic yet often dangerous personality. On the way, he paints a uniquely close-up portrait of the RSC at work.
Year of the Fat Knight is a terrific read, rich in humour and with a built-in tension as opening night draws relentlessly nearer. It also stands as a celebration of the craft of character acting. It ranks alongside Year of the King – Sher's seminal account of playing Richard III – as a consummate depiction of the creation of a giant Shakespearean role.
'Antony Sher’s insider journal is a brilliant exploded view of a great actor at work — modest and gifted, self-centred and selfless — a genius capable of transporting us backstage'
- Craig Raine Spectator (Books of the Year)
‘A fascinating book, whether you love Shakespeare, whether you love theatre, even if you don’t... unfailingly honest... a brilliant portrayal of a character actor’
- Claudia Winkelman BBC Radio 2 Arts Show
'A brilliantly full-bodied account that mixes the practicalities of a performance with artistic ambitions. You learn as much about Sher himself as you do about Falstaff... far more instructive about acting than any number of how-to guides'
'A vivid account... Sher has an artist's eye... filled with etacy'
- The Times
'Far from simply a primer on the art of acting... [Sher's] tone is relaxed, intimate, even confidential, open about his personal foibles and relationships... a book about life as well as about acting'
- The Spectator
'One of the most compelling non-fiction books I've read in a long time... chatty, frank, funny and enlightening... anyone wanting to know exactly how a show is created from beginning to end will find it all here... I enjoyed Sher's earlier book, Year of the King, about his journey to create Richard III, but this is even better'
- The Stage
In 1982, rising actor Antony Sher played the Fool to Michael Gambon’s King in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of King Lear. Shortly after, he came back to Stratford to play Richard III – a breakthrough performance that would transform his career, winning him the Olivier and Evening Standard Awards for Best Actor. Sher’s record of the making of this historic theatrical event, Year of the King, has become a classic of theatre writing, a unique insight into the creation of a landmark Shakespearean performance.
More than thirty years later, Antony Sher returned to Lear, this time in the title role, for the 2016 RSC production directed by Gregory Doran. Sher’s performance was acclaimed by the Telegraph as ‘a crowning achievement in a major career’, and the show transferred from Stratford to London’s Barbican. Once again, he kept a diary, capturing every step of his personal and creative journey to opening night.
Year of the Mad King: The Lear Diaries is Sher’s account of researching, rehearsing and performing what is arguably Shakespeare’s most challenging role, known as the Everest of Acting. His strikingly honest, illuminating and witty commentary provides an intimate, first-hand look at the development of his Lear and of the production as a whole. Also included is a selection of his paintings and sketches, many reproduced in full colour.
Like his Year of the King and Year of the Fat Knight: The Falstaff Diaries, this book, Year of the Mad King, offers a fascinating perspective on the process of one of the greatest Shakespearean actors of his generation.
'One of the finest books I have ever read on the process of acting' Time Out on Year of the King
'Antony Sher's insider journal is a brilliant exploded view of a great actor at work – modest and gifted, self-centred and selfless – a genius capable of transporting us backstage' Craig Raine, The Spectator (Books of the Year) on Year of the Fat Knight