A sparkling knight at the theatre

Acting giant Sir Derek Jacobi was on sparkling form as he entertained audiences at a special fund-raising evening for the restored Bury St Edmunds theatre.

Sir Derek, celebrating 50 years as an actor, regaled audience members with stories from his wide-ranging career.

Interspersed with anecdotes, encouraged from him by theatre patron Sir Jeremy Isaacs, Sir Derek performed favourite extracts from The Tempest, a Shakespearean sonnet and The Boy Actor by Noel Coward.

As well as talking about his beginnings in the theatre and his time at Cambridge, he also explained why, in the opinion of Noel Coward, he would only be a good actor not a great one.

The reason he gave was such that we couldn’t possibly publish it in a family newspaper before the watershed.

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He explained that actors were born. You could not teach someone how to act. He said that drama school could refine talent, could show up strengths and weaknesses but could teach someone to act.

Sir Derek also spoke passionately about how he is involved in a campaign with Globe Theatre director Mark Rylance to start a debate about the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays.

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It was a captivating evening, delivered by a man with tremendous charisma, stage presence and one of the best speaking voices to ever grace a stage.

A wonderful evening in the presence of true theatrical greatness.

Andrew Clarke

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