Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays the Rent

There's probably no person living who is more qualified to talk about performing Shakespeare or who is more entertaining while doing so than Dame Judi Dench. Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays the Rent will be read religiously by all actors, and raptly by anyone who enjoys the theater, the craft of acting, or simply the work of Shakespeare himself. The book is written in the form of an extended conversation between Dame Judi and her friend Brendan O'Hea, an actor and director who has staged many plays at Shakespeare's Globe Theater.

Dame Judi's ruminations are wide-ranging. She offers illuminating insights into the texts themselves and the staging of the plays in venues storied and modest throughout the world, and delightfully candid insider gossip from her more than half century of performing with some of the most talented actors of the day.

"All I ever wanted to do was play Shakespeare, nothing else," Dame Judi says, and it's clear from her stories that she's loved almost every minute of it, though some plays are closer to her heart than others. When O'Hea asks if there are any plays she hates, she recounts the story of one director scolding the cast by saying, "If I hear this play being called The Merchant of [vomit sound] again I shall be very angry."

The book covers every Shakespearean role that Dame Judi has performed, from Ophelia in Hamlet in 1957 to Paulina in The Winter's Tale in 2015, and it still leaves readers wanting more. --Elizabeth DeNoma, executive editor, DeNoma Literary Services, Seattle, Wash.

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