Trivia

Desert Island Discs!


Alan Howard as Hal.


signing autographs

1. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 15 in D. Opus 28, played by Daniel Barenboim.

2. Mozart: Die Zauberflote - Act 2. Der Holle Rache kocht in meinen Herzen. (Magic Flute, Queen of the Night aria) - sung by Lucia Popp.

3. Hayden: String Quartet in B flat, Opus 76, No. 4. Played by The Aeolian Quartet.

4. Coleridge: The Ancient Mariner. Read by Sir Ralph Richardson.

5. Guy Woolfenden: The Coronation March for The Revenger's Tragedy.

6. Schubert: String Quartet No. 14 in D Minor - (Death and the Maiden).

7. Hayden: Mass in D Minor (The Nelson), Kyrie.

8. Mozart: String Quintet No. 6 in E flat, K614. Played by the Augmented Grumiaux Trio.

Final choice: The Beethoven Sonata.

Luxury: A self-tuning, upright piano with waterproof cover and a "re-teach yourself how to play the piano" book!


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The "Interesting Comments by others" corner.

Frances de la Tour in an interview for the Independent, 13.4.94.

".......When I had a few lines as the French governess in a revival of Ian Holm's Henry V, and Alan was Burgundy, I was very struck by him. He was very contained, very melodious and had an unashamed, poetic way of speaking that was so seductive. He was conventional , but appealing.

Then, mid-year, something happened. Alan usually turned up in Shetland sweaters but one day he walked into the green room in black leather. I remember thinking, he's far more mysterious and sexually alert than I thought. That coincided with his part in The Revenger's Tragedy. It was Trevor Nunn's first major production - amazing in black and silver - and Alan played Lussurioso in a silver jock-strap. It was riveting; here was somebody acting with their whole body. I felt I could be that kind of actor too........................................

Then Trevor Nunn did his second production, The Relapse, and I got my first main part, Miss Hoyden. At last I was able to be physical. Alan played the leading man, and we had our first love scene. We moved from either end of the stage very slowly. We were both blind as bats, and neither of us could see anything until we were nose to nose.............



Sally Beauman in an interview with the London Evening Standard, 26.4.94.

".............. The chemistry? I'm an extrovert and slightly bossy, and Alan's an introvert and has a temper like a tiger if his work is going badly. Yet we're both Leos and get on very well......."



Janet Suzman in In the Company of Actors by Carole Zucker, 1999.

I used to have a very pleasant - because I like him a lot - but quite tempestuous relationship with Alan Howard when we did Much Ado; sometimes he used to annoy the hell out of me, although I admired him as an actor. We had quite a jokey relationship. Sometimes a little barbed humour here and there is a very useful thing. It served the play well.



Sheila Bannock on the role of Felicite Gillham, wig mistress at the RSC, in the Stratford-on-Avon Herald, 3.5.68.

.......Miss Gillham actually deals with all aspects of make-up.......... False noses and ears are obviously very personal to an actor in the role he is playing. Scabs and scars, too, are no haphazard affair from night to night: Alan Howard, who bears a great many in his part of Edgar in King Lear, knows all his by nickname and number, and is particularly attached to a vicious-looking scratch which has been made up complete with the old nail which is supposed to have caused it.



John Miller in 'Judi Dench with a crack in her voice' published 1997

Judi, Edward [Woodward] and Alan Howard soon formed an inseparable trio in their off-stage relaxations, going ice-skating and riding, and Judi took them both to the local Quaker meeting, though Alan refused to go again after his first visit, when the woman next to him spoilt his concentration by noisily opening a packet of biscuits.



The, "Oi! Lay off my favourite classical actor", corner!



Journalistic excess!

Clive James in The Observer, on The South Bank Show's 'Word of Mouth' two part series, December 1979

"Yet in the end Alan Howard's was the voice that thrilled. I have seen him only once in the theatre, playing Coriolanus as an Alternative Miss World. But he has a knack for Shakespeare's rhythm - the rhythm that holds melody together."

Too kind of Clive to say so!

Michael Coveney in The Observer, 22.7.90. On Alan Howard's triumph at Chichester, in The Silver King.

"Howard - tall, elegant, feline - has eyes like currants, a banana nose and a quizzical chin." !!!!!

What?! Define 'quizzical chin'!

Aaaaaagh!!!

Alastair Macauley in the Financial Times, 29.8.91.

"I have never known a more thrilling demonstration that poetry is something to be performed live, and from memory. When Howard stands, you see how, with relaxed shoulders and gestures, he controls his voice from the diaphragm. This central core of vitality, together with his strong face and lively neck, give a really classical essence to his performance."

Lively neck?!!!!

Harry Eyres in The Times, 20.7.90, on Alan Howard's return to the stage in 'The Silver King'

"It is good to see Howard back in the theatre after what seems a long and inexplicable absence. He remains a mannered but exciting actor, using his high voice like a flute, a reed, a trumpet, to weave spells of sound almost like a hypnotist. However, he is also capable of explosive action."

HIGH!?

Oliver Pritchett in The Guardian, 9.11.68.

"The crimes Alan Howard has been accused of include high-handedness with caesuras, being over-complicated and perverse in his performances, and insulting the intelligence of one of the pillars of Stratford society........"

good for him!

Offending the audience!

 

............."Howard hasn't yet achieved a perfect understanding with some of the members of his audiences - particularly with his portrayal of Achilles as an effeminate creature in sort of white kaftan and wearing a blonde bun. He mimics the outraged Colonel who said, 'To suggest that Achilles was a homosexual is just not on' and the polite hostility of the Stratford shopkeepers who say they haven't 'actually seen Troilus and Cressida, ' but have 'heard funny things about it'. Howard claims textural support for his interpretation...........He defends the kaftan as good leisure wear for skulking in tents - and a good device to cope with all the references in the text to Achilles's splendid sinews. 'I told John Barton I could strip fairly well, but I couldn't manage that much.'

....and who are we to argue!!!

'All men are ensemble - but some are more ensemble than others!'
quoted from a note on a table mirror in a dressing room at the Aldwych in 1969.

Back to those critics!

John Barber in The Daily Telegraph, 25.4.75.

"His curious voice, at once nasal and throaty, like a frog with a cold........"

Into every good review a little rain must fall......!

discus..ting

Gareth Lloyd Evans, in the Stratford-upon-Avon Herald, 24.6.66.

Alan Howard's Orsino had a strained look, undecided, one might guess, whether to be goodie or baddie. In the end he turned out to be neither - just gaddy.

d'oh!!!!!!

Helen Dawson, in a review of The Tempest, Plays and Players, December 1970.

.........the spirits' banquet was represented by what looked like luminous tea cosies, which later went pop, and the 'majestic vision' of Ceres and her gang consisted of three near naked gentlemen, in semi-darkness, with tinsel headgear, who looked as though they had come down from the front of Selfridges on the night before Christmas........

Oh dear! Cruelty, 'thy name is woman!'

Back to The Tempest page

From a 1968 review for As You Like It

........some brilliantly inventive acting by Alan Howard as the melancholy Jacques - at times incredibly like Clement Freud ....

!!! ?

D. A. N. Jones in The Financial Times, 23.6.67.

Jacques, played here, rather pretentiously, by Alan Howard, an excellent actor in the right part (as in The Revenger's Tragedy) but hard to cast......

Hmmmm! I wonder if he ever regretted writing that!

The Times, 10.8.68

Described Alan Howard's Achilles as 'a renegade German governess'.

Conjures up an interesting vision!

On the subject of Achilles - no, not the Daily Mail's famous 'frilly pants' quote!
Darlington in the Daily Telegraph, 10.8.68.

But I reacted very unfavourably to the handling of Achilles, whose quarters were made the scene of some peculiar doings which wasted a great deal of stage time.....

Poor, boring old critic!

Benedict Nightingale in The New Statesman, 23.10.70.

"A most majestic vision!" cries Ferdinand, as they materialise, and it is impossible to understand what he means. Three nearly naked men, with what look like long straws in their hair, crooning in the half dark? Majestic?

Oh dear! The Tempest strikes again!


Fintan O'Toole, on Alan's role in Gates of Gold - Irish Times, 2.5.02.

"His Gabriel is a fabulous hybrid, part exotic orchid, part Triffid, at once delicately gorgeous and monstrously voracious."

Quite a 'Little Shop of Horrors'!


Carol Kramer: from the Chicago Tribune interview with Alan on A Midsummer Night's Dream, 28.3.1971

...... Most grueling, perhaps, has been working on the trapezes, ropes and ladders that Brook uses for this production. When rehearsals began in Stratford, Brook simply had an 18-foot scaffolding put up, with ropes and trapezes available for the actors' whims. Sometimes they bumped into each other. But no one has fallen - yet. And Alan Howard is very near-sighted. "What you don't see, you don't miss," he says hopefully.



All great actors tend to split criticical opinion, by virtue of their daring and insight, which may not always fit a comfortable preconception of a role! Alan Howard is no exception. Click here for some - occasionally wildly - varying viewpoints!

Sheridan Morley from a 'preview' of theatre in 1982: 'Shooting Stars: Extracts from Punch, 1975-83'.
August:........ Meanwhile American tourists who wish to impress the folks back home without having to suffer long boring evenings indoors are now able to purchase a London Theatregoer's Kit which includes six torn ticket-stubs, several theatre programmes already pre-thumbed and a ready-reckoner cocktail party quotation chart including ten variations on "It was really great" and "That Alan Howard sure can say Shakespeare".

Some seats at the Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford are named in honour of a person who has made an outstanding contribution to the RSC. Seat number K14 in the stalls of the theatre at Stratford is named for Alan Howard.

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