Love’s labors fire up Susannah York

Thinking about love in all its different forms was the starting point for Susannah York to compose a kaleidoscopic gallery of Shakespeare’s female characters. She chose the individuals, brought the pieces together into one whole, shed a Shakespearean light on the most intense of emotions and created «The Loves of Shakespeare’s Women.» Tonight and tomorrow, the British actress will present her one-woman recital at the 260 Pireos venue (at 9 p.m.). Part of the Athens Festival, the performance is a feverish, fragmented monologue which marks the peak of maturity in a woman who has analyzed the contradictory experiences of emblematic Shakespearean heroines. Edgy with excitement, York has been in Athens since the beginning of the week and has visited the new Athens Festival venue. «It is a wonderful theater,» she said on Monday, sitting next to festival director Giorgos Loukos. «It will be the largest stage on which I will have presented this piece.» York has an uncontained passion for her work. «Beatrice!» she proclaimed, announcing her favorite of Shakespeare’s leading ladies. Beatrice, from «Much Ado About Nothing,» is «spirited and hyperactive,» she explained. «It’s a good match.» The actress also expressed a sense of kinship for Rosalind from «As You Like It» and Viola from «Twelfth Night.» «I am very fond of all them, though,» she said, adding: «Although it is a bit strange to feel this way about women such as Lady Macbeth… But actors have a duty not to judge the characters in the play.» The reason why York – who has never really done Shakespeare in her career to any great degree – chose to create this performance is not academic, she said. She approached the subject emotionally, on instinct. But, she explained, her involvement with Shakespeare also serves different purposes, including promoting the great writer to weigh in on a recent debate that suggested cutting Shakespeare from the British national curriculum of education. «He’s universal, he’s the best,» York said. However, the main motive behind her involvement is love, she commented, «in all its manifestations, in women of all ages, social backgrounds, characters.» «It took me a long time to gather the material,» York said. «’The Loves of Shakespeare’s Women’ talks about romantic love, all types of love, love for family, love of an ideal, an idea, a faith.»

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