Christopher Plummer at Stratford

Montreal-born Christopher Plummer, one of the finest classical actors of our time, has been performing professionally for over sixty years. This past summer, for the 60th anniversary of Stratford, Ontario’s Shakespeare Festival, he gave an outstanding presentation of his auto-biographical one-man show, A Word or Two, which I had the great pleasure of seeing at the Avon Theatre.

“The purpose of A Word or Two,” he wrote in the program notes, “is simply to celebrate language which seems to be fast vanishing from our midst. It could be described as showing what impact the written word can have on impressionable youth and is very much a personal stroll through literature, a literature that has long stirred my imagination and that, for one reason or another, I cannot let go. The poetry and prose I have chosen to accompany my journey is both silly and sad, sacred and profane; ranging from A. A. Milne to the Bible; Shaw and Wilde to Coleridge and Marlowe; W. H. Auden and Nabokov to Rostand and MacLeish; Shakespeare and Byron to Nash and Leacock. It is intended not just to show the myriad of colours words can paint, but to illuminate along the way the several phases of my particular moon. If there must be a ‘theme,’ let it be my eternal gratitude to a family who, from the moment I formed my first sentence, made me aware of the joy and magic of language which, after all, is our heritage to hold on to for dear life while we can.”

Here’s a few more of Mr. Plummer’s literary thoughts:

On Lewis Carroll: “He seems so simple and whimisical, but there’s a great deal of depth and thought behind it all.”

On William Shakespeare: “Is there anything he didn’t know how to say or help us understand better?”

On Archibald MacLeish: I admire the complex simplicity of his work to this day.”

On Dylan Thomas: “It’s heartbreaking stuff, but it’s also sublimely romantic and deliciously ribald as well.”

On Edmond Rostand: “I think my favourite moment on stage has to be Cyrano’s death scene. It truly has it all.”

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