“The notion of ‘building a career’ had never been heard or dreamed of when I was young.” — Vanessa Redgrave

My friend Dan Callahan wrote the first major biography of Vanessa Redgrave, and he is voluminous on the topic: her career, her gift as an actress. Dan is one of the best writers today on the art of acting (and it’s a pretty short list). I interviewed Dan about his Vanessa book for Ebert.

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3 Responses to “The notion of ‘building a career’ had never been heard or dreamed of when I was young.” — Vanessa Redgrave

  1. Scott Abraham says:

    The interview ended with a comparison between VR and Brando- that he got discouraged and she did not.
    I have a question and maybe you know the answer.

    Brando was an original cast member of I Remember Mama, bounced around for a bit, then did Streetcar, then never really went back. I caught a mention of the timeline for each and realized for both Mama and Streetcar, he was on both for TWO YEARS for like 7 or 8 shows a week. I would imagine someone with discipline issues like Brando would bristle.

    Do classical english actors do mega marathon grinds like that? I remember it was a big deal for Barrymore to reach 100 performances of Hamlet and break someones record, then realized that could be done with in 3 months.

    • sheila says:

      Hey, Scott! Yeah, he was involved in two MONSTER Broadway runs! Its crazy! He really didn’t have discipline issues, though. someone like James Dean had discipline issues – he was impulsive, had hard time settling down, didn’t really have “technique” to fall back on if inspiration didn’t come. I think Brando was understandably quite bored after a while doing the same thing night after night. But he had very good technique to rely on – and he wasn’t “above” being practical if he had to (like putting onions on the stairway in Streetcar to bring tears to his eyes for the “stellaaaaa” scene).

      But for sure it was a grind.

      That’s a good question about English actors! I’m not sure. I wonder if they have mostly limited runs of their productions – as opposed to Broadway – where something can conceivably run forever if people keep buying tickets.

      • Madeleine says:

        Runs in rep theaters in the UK are more likely to have a defined run and periodic revivals than an indefinite run – if you peruse RSC and National Theatre calendars you can see its structure. And, of course, it’s 2 or 3 shows in a revolving schedule, so you might only be on a couple of nights a week ( (not unlike Opera and Ballet companies in that way kind of scheduling). The big West End commercial theaters (ie for profit) have Broadway-style 7-a-week-until-we-close (eg Mathilda or of course The legendary run of The Mousetrap, for.. er… 70 years?! https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mousetrap). Of course, casts change, but it’s comparable to Broadway in those shows.

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