My mom got me new Broadway necklaces!! I have one for every show I’ve seen so far, so even tho I don’t really count seeing Newsies Live in theatres really SEEING the show, it’s still cool I have the pendant!
In November 1970, Ralph Richardson and John Gielgud arrived on Broadway with their play “Home,” and Ralph actually agreed to cooperate with publicity interviews. One of the best was on the CBS television program “Camera 3,” and Ralph likely agreed because the interview was conducted by producer Alexander Cohen, who brought the play to Broadway. The complete 30-minute interview is not available online but the transcript is on the web.
The program begins with the Sirs taking turns to read favorite poems, then Cohen asks Ralph to define acting. Ralph responds by praising his friend Johnny, and reminding everyone about his failure in Macbeth.
Sir Ralph: “Oh dear. That’s a big subject to define acting. Well, I’d say this about it, that acting is make-believe and make-believe, you’ve got to believe it yourself part of the time. An actor doesn’t believe what he’s doing all of the time, but some of the time he must really dream it. It is, in a way, dreaming to order. It is daydreaming to order. If you don’t believe it yourself, you’ll never succeed in making anyone else believe it.
“Well, that is the heart of the matter, I believe. And an actor can be described in scale, perhaps in the size and the reach of the dreams that he is capable of making Now, my friend here on my left [motioning to Sir John], we don’t very often pay each other elaborate compliments. It would be a pretty sticky thing if we did because we’ve acted together for so many years. But I’d like to say this about John Gielgud, what makes him, to my mind, one of the finest actors living, is the size, and scope, and range of his daydreams. He’s able to reach easily, naturally and simply because he believes them. Some of the greatest dramatic poems conceived by mankind are the great dramatic poems of Shakespeare. When in Richard II, Johnny says, ‘Bring me a looking glass that I may see my face,’ it is as natural as if he were to say, ‘I’ve come to read the gas meter.’ It is absolutely true, he is alive absolutely truly and a very great poet.
“I’ve tried myself to achieve one or two of these great poems. I’m incapable of achieving them. Perhaps in comedy a little bit, but in tragedy, not at all, Though I can read them and be moved by them in reading I think as much as anybody. I tried to play Macbeth under Johnny’s direction. It was a disaster, it was terrible. ‘Is this a dagger that I see before me?’ I didn’t see the dagger, neither did anybody else. But Johnny perceived and saw his looking glass, and all the rest in scale of the several magnificent poetic creations that he’s made.
“That’s about as much flattery that we’re going to do for each other (laughter). That’ll last us for a long time. However much I admire you, Johnny. Now, I’ve talked a hell of a long time, you say something….”
John Gielgud takes over and shares some thoughts about Ralph:
Sir John: “I can pay him some compliments now. Ralph is a wonderfully constructive man and he acts with enormous craftsmanship. He loves the craftsmanship of acting just as if he had been a carpenter he would have loved working in wood or he’d been a clockmaker he would have enjoyed all the wheels going round or he’d been a musician he would have enjoyed the quality of the violin he was playing. He has an enormous appreciation of material, which he is working with it as his own voice, his own plastique.”