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I Will Be Cleopatra: An Actress's Journey

Caldwell, Zoe

33 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 039304226X / ISBN 13: 9780393042269
Published by W. W. Norton & Company, New York, 2001
Hardcover
From Ground Zero Books, Ltd. (Silver Spring, MD, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

218 p. Illustrations. A riveting account of a determined yet modest woman who became one of the leading classical and Broadway actors of our time, working with such luminaries as Paul Robeson, Laurence Olivier, and Tennessee Williams. Very good in very good dust jacket. Signed by author. DJ has slight wear and soiling, with small edge wear. Minor edge soiling. First edition. Stated. First printing [stated]. Bookseller Inventory # 61001

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Bibliographic Details

Title: I Will Be Cleopatra: An Actress's Journey

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company, New York

Publication Date: 2001

Binding: Hardcover

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

Echoing such classics as Eudora Welty's One Writer's Beginnings and Moss Hart's Act One, I Will Be Cleopatra is a riveting account of a determined, yet modest woman who became one of the leading classical actors of our time.

To those whose only exposure to acting are the films of Hollywood, Zoe Caldwell remains a secret. To those of us, however, who have seen her on the stage―whether in London, Toronto, or New York―she is the essence of theater, her presence so transfixing that the memory of having seen her is emblazoned in the mind forever.

The daughter of a plumber and a taxi dancer born in Australia at the height of the Great Depression, Caldwell first demonstrated her talents at the age of nine when she appeared on the stage as Slightly Soiled in Peter Pan. Hampered by a mild dyslexia, she felt that acting was the only way she could communicate, and by the age of fourteen she was appearing professionally in national radio soap operas. Caldwell spent the next ten years honing her skills as an actress, before she was sent to Stratford-upon-Avon in 1958, where she began a Shakespearean acting career that would culminate in her stunning portrayal of Cleopatra, the Bard's greatest female role.

Caldwell's own uniquely charming and powerful voice―one that she brought to her roles in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and as Maria Callas in Master Class―shines throughout this intimate memoir. Rather than emphasizing the stories of her adult triumphs, however, Caldwell deliberately focuses on the early influences and experiences that molded her as an actress: her enchanting first visits to the theater, sandwiched in between her parents, where she sat in "the gods," way up in the cheap seats; her early teachers and coaches who taught her not only how to use her diaphragm but also how to keep people "awake and in their seats"; and her journey―steerage class―to England at the age of twenty-five to perform at Stratford with many of the greatest actors of the twentieth century. As Caldwell reveals in these pages, acting is not a craft practiced in isolation. With an experienced eye, she describes her fellow performers, writers, and directors who have shaped her career: from Charles Laughton and Albert Finney to Edith Evans, Paul Robeson, and Laurence Olivier. She has performed the works of major playwrights from Shakespeare and Chekhov to Harold Pinter and Tennessee Williams, many of whom she knew personally. Her insights into the actor's craft reveal the completely undiluted and remarkably fine voice of an artist still impassioned about her craft and dedicated to its perpetuation in its purest form.

I Will Be Cleopatra represents the literary culmination of a legendary theatrical career and a fascinating life.

About the Author:

Zoe Caldwell has won four Tony Awards for her roles in Slapstick Tragedy, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Medea, and Master Class.

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