Feb 16, 2007

Steam on the Table

In an entertaining interview with Peter O'Toole in this week's Back Stage, the sage thesp starts off with this withering dimissal:
I avoided the Royal Shakespeare Companies and the National Theatres and all that rubbish. I don't like any of them; I have not liked them for half a century...There was a period--a generation, indeed--30-odd years in which the Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre and the Royal Court, all that lot, they were mediocrewhich is unforgivable. Mediocrity is just disgusting. Within the last five, 10 years, they've become bad. And that is such a relief...They've got a very high opinion of themselves. They live in an isolated little community. All it is is a young bunch of mediocrities who are being exploited because they get no money; all the money goes into production or some director's pocket when it's transferred to London.

The interlocutor, clearly stunned, moves on. I don't know how I'd respond myself. There are several sharp, witty comments throughout, but my favorite had to be O'Toole's colorful phrase, which is new to me: "Whether theatre or cinema, acting is what I do for a living. It's how I put steam on the table" (italics mine). Somehow captures the ephemerality of it all, doesn't it?

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