Shakespeare's Globe

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Roger talks about his initial impressions of the play and his character. Of Buckingham he says, "I thought he would be a rewarding character to play."

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Time: 4 minutes 10 seconds

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Transcript of Podcast

Hayley Bartley:

My first question is: were you familiar with Richard III before? Did you read it?

Roger Lloyd Pack:

Well, I read it before, when I was offered the part. I don’t know it terribly well. I know it from the famous Laurence Olivier film about it and the character of Richard, who’s such a sort of maverick, fantastic character to play. And, Olivier’s performance was a very famous performance and it sort of defined the role in many ways. So, I didn’t know it very well.


So, what were your initial impressions of the play, then?


I was interested in what an intriguing character Buckingham was - which is the part that I’m playing - and which I hadn’t really thought about or known about Buckingham but what an interesting character he is and I thought that he would be a rewarding character to play. And, the play has four great parts for women, one of which we’ve cut from our production. Of course this is an all-male company, so I’m feeling a little defensive when I speak to my women friends and I have to say that it’s an all-male company, because Shakespeare didn’t write all that many parts for women anyway and, in this play, there are actually four really good parts. So, I think it’s quite rough from that point of view but I respect the decision to play all-male and I think that indeed is part of the contract in this company, in the Globe theatre, to remember there is a brief to perform at least some of the plays as they would have been done in the original performances.


And so what do we know about Buckingham or what have you learnt about him so far?


How influential he was in the political shenanigans that went on in getting Richard to the throne and how instrumental he was - in this play anyway - in getting the throne for Richard and how Richard used him and how he, in a way, he took over from Richard. They evolved a strategy between them to hoodwink the mayor and the people into believing that Richard was this holy man, really, who would be an ideal person to get on the throne of England. Of course, as soon as he’s on the throne, it’s not enough for him and he pushes Buckingham to a place where Buckingham isn’t prepared to go.


And so did you do any specific preparation for this role?


I started to learn the lines, because, when I first started out acting I thought “Oh no, I’m not going to learn the lines. I don’t want to pre-empt how I’m going to play the part in rehearsals.” But, in the last few years, I’ve found it’s much more useful to know the lines when you come to rehearsal. You can start in a much higher place, a much readier place, and you can use the rehearsal time much better and I wish I’d adopted that strategy much earlier on in my career, actually. I also thought of who, of a contemporary figure, might be equivalent of Buckingham. I wanted to try and make him more accessible to me. I think somebody like Peter Mandelson, I thought; somebody who was politically quite high up, who’s instrumental in making people powerful and who was then ditched, or had to resign, or was killed, or whatever. We’re a bit more civilised now, so we don’t kill people.


How familiar are you, generally, with Shakespeare? How much have you done during your career?


Well, I’m quite familiar. I mean, I’ve done about ten plays, I’ve been in ten plays, and I started to learn Shakespeare as a very young boy actually, at a poetry competition. I’ve always been interested, for some reason, in the verse. So, I’ve always practised it and I’ve done a lot of poetry readings. I’ve studied the pentameter, if you like, the verse, the beat a lot. Mainly with Shakespeare, but also with John Keats and Wilfred Owen and other poets who use that metre.  The Shakespeare sonnets: I know a lot of those sonnets and I’ve worked with them a lot. So, I haven’t done as many plays as I would’ve liked. That’s why it’s very nice to come back here. That’s how I started off, actually, at the Royal Shakespeare Company. I’ve dotted along through my career, I’ve done a few. I’ve been Oberon, Prospero, but I haven’t done an awful lot and that was about ten years ago. So, I haven’t done as much Shakespeare as I would have liked.


Definitely a good opportunity with this one.


Definitely, yes!

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