Brine, Adrian 1936-

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Brine, Adrian 1936-

PERSONAL:

Born March 25, 1936, in London, England; son of A. Stanley (a missionary society manager) and Gwendolen V.M. (a secretary) Brine. Ethnicity: "British." Education: St. John's College, Oxford, M.A., 1960. Hobbies and other interests: "Modern languages."

ADDRESSES:

Home—Singel 212, 1016 AB, Amsterdam, Netherlands; fax: 00-31-20-6261789. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Dundee Repertory Company, Dundee, Scotland, staff producer, 1963-64; Rideau de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium, permanent guest director, 1964—. Co-artistic director of a theater in Arnhem, Netherlands, 1968-70; Globe Theatre Company (Netherlands), co-artistic director, 1970-77; Belgian National Theatre, artistic consultant, 1980-86.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Decorated chevalier, l'Ordre de la Couronne, Belgium; Prix Molière, 1996, for production of An Ideal Husband; Prix de Théâtre Life Achievement Award, Belgian Press Association, 1998.

WRITINGS:

(With Michael York) A Shakespearean Actor Prepares (textbook), Smith & Kraus (Lyme, NH), 2000.

Translator of various plays into French for production in Brussels, Belgium.

Brine and York's book has been translated into Turkish.

SIDELIGHTS:

Adrian Brine is primarily a director of plays, but he is also an actor, a teacher, and coauthor of the book A Shakespearean Actor Prepares. Brine and coauthor Michael York, a noted Shakespearean actor, analyze what originally made Shakespeare so popular with the London masses, and, by extension, what Shakespearean actors today should focus on to remain true to the Bard's work. Shakespeare's plays were the Elizabethan equivalent of today's films by the likes of Steven Spielberg, the authors say. Commercially successful, Shakespeare's plays were full of human drama, action, emotion, and bloodshed, to the point where eighteenth-century drama critics dubbed them hopelessly vulgar. The authors examine several plays in depth, including Hamlet, Macbeth, and Romeo and Juliet, noting, among other things, Shakespeare's use of active and colorful language to capture the audience's attention and of repetition to make sure that they had a full understanding of the plot. By focusing on these things, the authors imply, American actors can overcome their fears about acting Shakespeare and recreate his original successes with mass audiences. Brine and York also debate at length the value of using the Stanislavski method when preparing to act in a Shakespearean role.

Brine once told CA: "I wrote A Shakespearean Actor Prepares at the suggestion of, and in collaboration with, the actor Michael York. He was giving some lessons in Shakespearean acting at an American university and asked for some hints. My notes found their way into the hands of the publisher, and a book was commissioned. It was helpful to think that somebody was waiting to read what I wrote.

"After years of acting, directing, and teaching Shakespeare in several countries, I noticed that the same questions were posed by actors, and the same problems recurred. The same misconceptions blocked actors in their approach to the roles. Acting systems developed in the late-nineteenth century seemed to be unhelpful when applied to a playwright who worked two centuries before. However, this writer (Shakespeare) included in his plays certain ‘score markings’ which were in fact his ‘director's notes to the players,’ which it takes a trained eye to recognize.

"I tried to draw the reader's attention to these, and at the same time to propose some guesses into the way Shakespeare, as a playwright (the first professional one) approached his work.

"From the other side of the footlights, Michael York set down his experiences of acting Shakespeare, both on stage and in the cinema. Among all the professorial books about Shakespeare, as poet, philosopher, [and] historian, we thought that this was probably the first one written by an actor and a director.

"The book does not pretend to instruct ‘how to play Shakespeare’; it deals with the stage before: how to understand what he writes, and what he's doing, and to see how different he is from any other writer."

Later Brine added: "As a child I wrote profusely (stories and plays), but the flow dried up when I went to study literature at Oxford. I'd thought that a closer acquaintance with Tolstoy and Dostoevsky and Chekhov would give me wings, but it only brought home to me my own inadequacy. They were on a different planet. My most useful lesson came from a teacher at school, who said we learn more about writing from reading bad, cheap novels. We can kid ourselves into thinking we could do better than that!

I write in longhand. It gives me time to weigh the words. Then I type it up, rewriting and rearranging. I am a dinosaur who cannot use a computer. And a pen cannot delete—it can only cross out—and often the first sentence you put down flows better than the subsequent improvements. I'm influenced by Sir Arthur Quiller-Coach's Cambridge lectures on the art of writing (1916!) and by an elegant book by another Cambridge don, F.L. Lucas, who wrote On Style."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

American Theatre, October, 2000, Karly Pierre, "Suiting Word to Action," p. 123.

Back Stage West, October 19, 2000, Jean Schiffman, "The Character and I," p. 7.

Booklist, October 15, 2000, Jack Helbig, review of A Shakespearean Actor Prepares, p. 404.

Library Journal, September 1, 2000, Barry X. Miller, review of A Shakespearean Actor Prepares, p. 210.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 10, 2000, Angela Dawson, "Shakespeare through a Performer's Eyes," p. 2.

Variety, May 21, 2001, Joel Hirschhorn, review of A Shakespearean Actor Prepares, p. 27.