Year of the Fat Knight - The Falstaff Diaries
Published by Nick Hern Books
More than thirty-years ago a promising young actor published his account of preparing for and playing the role of Richard III
Antony Sher's Year of the King has since become a classic of theatre literature
In 2014, Sher - now in his sixties - was cast as Falstaff in Gregory Doran's Royal Shakespeare Company production of the two parts of Henry IV
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"
Year of the Fat Knight is 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
He tells us how he had doubts about playing the part at all, how he sought to reconcile Falstaff's obesity, drunkenness, cowardice and charm
And 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, Sher 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
All in all, it is destined to rank with Year of the King as one of the most enduring accounts of the creation of a giant Shakespearean role
Could make a great gift!
"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)