Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-06-08



Out theater icon Simon Callow does it the Bard way
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times

This article shared 2179 times since Wed Apr 18, 2012
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Simon Callow may be the epitome of a theater actor. Born in jolly old England, he worked his way up from box-office worker while watching actors rehearse at the National Theatre.

After appearing in several productions he landed the part of Schikaneder in the film Amadeus. Then a role in Four Weddings and a Funeral followed, which brought him more acclaim, bridging him into a Room With a View and Postcards from the Edge.

His private life became an open book after penning Being An Actor, in which he came out of the closet.

His television roles continue to entertain, especially in the UK with the BBC's Doctor Who; he also was a judge on Popstar to Operastar.

Callow has had a special connection with Shakespeare through the years, performing in festivals and the movie Shakespeare in Love—and now he finally has arrived in Chicago with a one-man show exploring the myth of the man. Using excerpts from the Bard's plays and poems, the audience can get to know one of the greatest authors ever and in a whole new way.

Windy City Times talked to the theater icon while he was in New York before heading to the Midwest.

Windy City Times: Hello, Simon. How are you?

Simon Callow: Splendid, nice to hear from you.

WCT: You are coming to Chicago. When was the last time you were here?

Simon Callow: Let me think—maybe 10 years ago. Has it changed a lot since then?

WCT: [ Laughs ] I think it has! Tell me about this show.

Simon Callow: The title, Being Shakespeare, gives a pretty good clue. It is an attempt to find out who that man really was that wrote all of those plays and how they came about. It is quite odd to do this because everybody knows that there aren't many facts about Shakespeare. There are solid facts like where he was born, when he got married and how many children he had, or when and where he died. What we don't have is any private information. We don't have any idea about what went on in his mind or his opinions were. We don't letters or diaries. He never did an interview, for example.

It is a question of looking at the facts that we do have and looking at the world he lived in. We took the famous speech from As You Like It—"all the world is a stage"—which describes the seven ages of man. We have asked of each age what was it like. What was it like to be an Elizabethan baby, soldier or schoolboy through the ages? I felt if that was true for everyone, then it must be true for him as well. We plug that into the plays and look for examples of what we have discovered. It is done with smoke and mirrors, but [ it's ] an attempt to bring the man to life.

WCT: So it is dissected as a study within a show?

Simon Callow: Kind of, but I would like to stake a claim that it is a theatrical event rather than a lesson. It is a journey for all of us, me, you and everyone.

WCT: Was it difficult to make it entertaining?

Simon Callow: [ Laughs ] No; the work is fantastically entertaining and one comes from it in a fairly light-spirited kind of way. We do go to deep and dark places in the show, and I think we need to because Shakespeare gave the best account to what it is like to be a human being all around. Being a human being is not without its distresses. He, better than anyone, was good at describing those things like jealousy, rage and hatred. Equally, he is the inspired chronicler of love, tenderness, hope and passion. We attempt the impossible to give a sense of the man and his whole work.

WCT: What do you think of the controversy that someone else wrote some of the work?

Simon Callow: I give it no time at all. I waste no thought upon it. Why would the plays of William Shakespeare be written by other people, when his collaborators and actors put his work together a couple of years after he died?

His chief writer, Ben Johnson, wrote his introduction, which started "Sweet swan of Avon." I am not aware of any of the other contenders having come from anywhere the banks of Avon. I can't think how, in a tiny little village that the London theater, someone wouldn't have blown his cover. It just seems to be preposterous.

WCT: Well, I am listening to you because you are the Shakespeare expert.

Simon Callow: That is what I like to think! [ Both laugh. ]

WCT: How was it performing with two sirs—Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart—in Waiting for Godot?

Simon Callow: It was extraordinary because it is an extraordinary play.

WCT: That was a dream team. Shakespeare has been big in your career.

Simon Callow: Shakespeare has been huge in my life. I have also performed his sonnets, which not many people have done, in my experience with great artistic expression. It was a secret in a series of poems written from one man to another. We don't know if he had sex with the people that he wrote the poems to. We don't even know who that person was but it suggests that he was a young aristocrat.

It is one of the most exhilarating documents, followed by doubt, depression and despair—ending with the collapse of that relationship. I don't think there is anything to compare with it in the English language. Not many people know that poems such as "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" were written from a man to a man.

WCT: Talk about the coming-out process, because you didn't necessarily need to come out of the closet when you did.

Simon Callow: In 1984 it was quite a big deal, but I couldn't see any way around it. I was quite a prominent actor. I was being interviewed a lot and being asked all the time little needling questions about a girlfriend and all of the rest of it. I thought that was ridiculous and didn't want to lie for the rest of my life. So I just told those reporters, "I'm not in a relationship with a women. I am gay." They never printed it—ever.

WCT: Really?

Simon Callow: That is the British press for you. They like to expose you. They don't like to be told anything. They want to find you out. It wasn't until I wrote my first book, Being an Actor, that it came out. I had been very candid with the press for five years about my sexuality; I finally got it down in print because it was my book, and there it was. I think it was a quite useful thing to do I have to say. I was one of the first celebrity actors that had done that voluntarily. Actors have been outed and arrested, in some cases, in England but nobody had done it voluntarily. I did, and I am rather proud of that.

WCT: You should be. Now you have been able to be an advocate for our community and perform with the London Gay Men's Chorus.

Simon Callow: That was tons of fun.

WCT: Are you getting to have fun while you are in town? Will we see you at show tunes at Sidetrack?

Simon Callow: I am being worked within an inch of my life while I am in Chicago. I am doing matinees and evening shows, benefits, galas and so forth.

WCT: I noticed you were in Doctor Who; [ that show has ] diehard fans.

Simon Callow: In England, particularly, they do.

WCT: Do you want to do more television this year?

Simon Callow: No; this year is a year of theater from beginning to end. In February, my biography of Charles Dickens came out so I have been talking a lot about Dickens and will continue to do that. It comes out in America in August. People can purchase it in bookshops or at .

Being Shakespeare runs April 18-29 at Navy Pier at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut St. Ticketsare $48-$63; see .

This article shared 2179 times since Wed Apr 18, 2012
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Gay News

THEATER Kokandy's 'Sweeney Todd' running Sept. 8-Nov. 6 2022-08-12
- Kokandy Productions will continue its 10th-anniversary season with a revival of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street that will run Sept. 8-Nov. 6. The production will feature music and lyrics by Sondheim, ...

Gay News

COMEDY Talking with 'World' traveler Annick Adelle 2022-08-11
- Bay Area attorney Annick Adelle has decided to face one of her biggest fears: stand-up comedy. After starting in 2016, she is releasing her own album and touring throughout the United States. ...

Gay News

Congo Square Theatre's 'What to Send Up When It Goes Down' at Lookingglass on Sept. 24-Oct. 16 2022-08-10
-- From a press release - CHICAGO (Aug. 10, 2022)—Congo Square Theatre Company, one of the nation's premier African American ensemble theater companies, and Lookingglass Theatre Company announce that single tickets are now on sale for ...

Gay News

Billy Masters 2022-08-08
- "I wasn't trying to have his career because he sings, he dances. I'm barely a single threat. I'm just an actor."—Tuc Watkins, explaining how he emulated the career trajectory of Kevin Kline— to the best of ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Jane Lynch, Dwayne Johnson, 'Star Trek,' Beyonce, Shea Coulee 2022-08-07
- NBC has renewed the Jane Lynch-hosted game show Weakest Link for a third season, Variety noted. Season three will run for 20 episodes. The series is based on a British format distributed by BBC Studios that ...

Gay News

Casting announced for queer-centered play 'St. Sebastian' 2022-08-05
- Refracted Theatre Company announced casting for its world premiere of Andrew Kramer's dark comedy St. Sebastian, directed by Artistic Director Graham Miller. The play features Nolan Robinson, Mack Spotts and ...

Gay News

Angelica Ross to be first trans lead in Broadway's 'Chicago' 2022-08-04
- Trans actors have made all sorts of impressions on Broadway, but former Chicagoan Angelica Ross has set a precedent. Next month, the leading role of fame-hungry murderess Roxie Hart will be played by Angelica Ross. Ross ...

Gay News

PASSAGES Chicago Latino Theater Alliance Executive Director Myrna Salazar dies at 75 2022-08-04
- The Chicago Latino Theater Alliance (CLATA) announced that co-founder and Executive Director Myrna Salazar passed away Aug. 3—two weeks after celebrating her 75th birthday. According to a press release, "Salazar ...

Gay News

THEATER 'Cabaret' coming to Metropolis Arts on Sept. 15 2022-08-02
- Musical Broadway classic and hit film Cabaret re-creates the decadent and complicated world of 1929 Berlin at the Arlington Heights venue Metropolis Performing Arts Centre on Sept. 15-Oct. 22. Cabaret is Kander and Ebb's legendary musical ...

Gay News

Oak Park Festival Theatre's 'The Winter's Tale' running thru Aug. 20 2022-08-02
- Oak Park Festival Theatre's The Winter's Tale will run at Austin Gardens (167 Forest Ave., Oak Park) through Sunday, Aug. 20. The Winter's Tale marks Oak Park Festival Theatre's return to the stage after a devastating ...

Gay News

Story Jam and Cerqua Rivera collaboration on July 27 at Artifact Events 2022-07-25
- Story Jam's next storytelling show—in a series of monthly shows at Artifact Events —will take place Wed., July 27, at 7:30 p.m. at 4325 N. Ravenswood Ave. "Living Truth: True Stories" is a storytelling collaboration with ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Broadway, 'Game of Thrones' prequel, Dexter Mayfield, Shania Twain 2022-07-24
- The Broadway League announced that theaters will continue their recently adopted mask-optional policy for audiences at least through August, Deadline reported. The mask-optional policy—in which audiences are encouraged but not ...

Gay News

THEATER 'The Mamalogues' in Evanston on July 23-Aug. 7 2022-07-19
- The Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre will present Lisa B. Thompson's The Mamalogues—an evening of monologues about the experience of parenting while Black, unmarried and middle-class in the age of anxiety—from July 23 to Aug. 7 at the Noyes ...

Gay News

THEATER 'The Devil Wears Prada' cast members dish about musical's Chicago debut 2022-07-18
- "All right, everyone! Gird your loins" as a stage musical version of The Devil Wears Prada is set for a world premiere in the Windy City this July as part of the lineup for Broadway in Chicago. Tony Award winner Beth ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Warhol/Basquiat, 'Raven's Home,' Jonathan Bailey, Broadway, Ricky Martin 2022-07-17
Video below - The Collaboration—Anthony McCarten's hit London play about artists Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat—will make its U.S. premiere on Broadway this fall, with Paul Bettany and Jeremy Pope as the two ...


Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.