Michael Blakemore arrived in the UK in 1950 from Australia and spent the first 15 years employed as an actor, before moving into theatre directing. Many awards and successes have followed – his first hit was Peter Nichol’s A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, and he’s directed many new productions from playwrights including Arthur Miller, David Hare and especially Michael Frayn, not to mention successes on Broadway such as Blithe Spirit.
Stage Blood (faber.co.uk/catalog/stage-blood/9780571241378), Michael’s new book, concentrates on his five years as an Associate Director at the National Theatre, when Laurence Olivier bestrode the stage, as his time as Artistic Director was coming to an end, to be replaced by Peter Hall. These were turbulent times for Blakemore and the National and scenes and confrontations ensued that were every bit as dramatic and tense as the dramas taking place on stage. One of Blakemore’s main concerns was the role that subsidised theatre had to play in the theatrical life of the country – which are still just as valid today.
In a fascinating interview for the Faber Podcast Blakemore looks back on his own career, and shares his thoughts on some big personalities.
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