Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays the Rent

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Pub Date Apr 23 2024 | Archive Date May 07 2024


Taking a curtain call with a live snake in her wig...

Cavorting naked through the Warwickshire countryside painted green...

Acting opposite a child with a pumpkin on his head...

These are just a few of the things Dame Judi Dench has done in the name of Shakespeare.

For the very first time, Judi opens up about every Shakespearean role she has played throughout her seven-decade career, from Lady Macbeth and Titania to Ophelia and Cleopatra. In a series of intimate conversations with actor & director Brendan O'Hea, she guides us through Shakespeare's plays with incisive clarity, revealing the secrets of her rehearsal process and inviting us to share in her triumphs, disasters, and backstage shenanigans.

Interspersed with vignettes on audiences, critics, company spirit and rehearsal room etiquette, she serves up priceless revelations on everything from the craft of speaking in verse to her personal interpretations of some of Shakespeare's most famous scenes, all brightened by her mischievous sense of humour, striking level of honesty and a peppering of hilarious anecdotes, many of which have remained under lock and key until now.

Instructive and witty, provocative and inspiring, this is ultimately Judi's love letter to Shakespeare, or rather, The Man Who Pays The Rent.

Taking a curtain call with a live snake in her wig...

Cavorting naked through the Warwickshire countryside painted green...

Acting opposite a child with a pumpkin on his head...

These are just a few of...

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Featured Reviews

Have you ever sat down for a chat with a good friend and looked up only to realize hours have gone by? You laugh, you find insight and you feel a bit nostalgic? That is what this book is like.

Cracking open the pages I wasn't sure what to expect. A series of interviews with Dame Judi Dench conducted by Brandon O'Hea about the Shakespearean roles that Dench has played over the years? Will it be dry? Too esoteric? Well, it was neither of those things.

Reading this book feels like having a conversation with Judi Dench, if you knew Judi Dench. Her voice sounds in your head as you read. You burst out laughing at some of the audience responses to the plays and you learn wonderful tidbits about Dench's life all the while talking about Shakespeare, "the man who pays the rent" as she and her husband quipped while being essentially always on stage through out the 1970s while performing with The Royal Shakespeare Company.

Dench talks about life, love and death through the lens of the plays that she clearly has great affection for. And dare I say she makes Shakespeare's work very accessible by talking about the characters in terms of human emotion, motivation and all of our very common emotions; jealousy, rage, joy and love. There is nothing sappy about this book, with a sharp wit and often raunchy attitude toward our human emotion Dench delivers again.

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This book was so charming and full of wonderful information. I am not the biggest Shakespeare fan, but that honestly doesn’t matter. The conversations between Judi Dench and Brendan O’ hea were always fascinating and I loved the career retrospective. I was happy to see small chapters about the theatre in general as well as the costumes and sets. If you are a fan of Judi Dench, Shakespeare, or just theatre in general, you need this book.

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I adored this autobiographical.deacruption of Judi Dench and her roles in various Shakespeare plays. Learned a lot about both the Bard and Dench. The afterward was perfect.

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I went into this knowing that Judi Dench was generally amazing, but I come out of it knowing concretely how she is amazing. She has an amazing recall, quoting the lines of others in plays she hasn't been in since the 1960s? Yeah she can do that. Teaching us about the plot, motivation, and characters of the play better than any prof I've had before? Yeah she can also do that.

She is hilarious, and loves to poke fun at her dear friends including Brendan O'Hea who is guiding the discussion herein. One of my favorite bits is about the role of Portia in the Merchant of Venice:

<i>"[Brendan O'Hea:] Jude, you’re being so badly behaved. You talk about handing on the baton to the next generation – there’ll be somebody out there wanting to play this part.

[Judi Dench:] Well, good luck to them. Don’t expect me to be in the audience." </i>

She is also incredibly sentimental and so very human. Two of the most endearing/humanizing things she shares are that she is afraid of death (me too Judes) and every time she loves a friend or loved one she plants a tree, and she remembers for whom each tree is planted:

<i>"John Stride was sensational. He was everything that you imagine Romeo should be. And more. He had a very young, rounded, cherubic face. I’m looking at his tree right now in the garden. I always plant a tree for lost friends. There it is – it’s thriving. And Alec McCowen is over there, by the steps."</i>

These conversations were recorded and will be archived (along with the illustrations that she has drawn), which I think is wonderful because her understanding for the plays and characters brings new depth to Shakespeare for me personally, and should do for others. But the book is also a lovely way to approach the oral history. All in all really lovely experience, and something I can see myself gifting to a loved one who loves literature and/or Judi Dench.

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Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays the Rent was an interesting and entertaining read that combined Judi Dench's recollections of her performances over the years with a critique of some of the main female roles in Shakespeare's plays. There are lots of references to famous UK stage stars and directors, so the book may lack something if you are not already familiar with them all, but it contained some pleasing discussion and was a fun performance-based memoir. I am giving it four stars.

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This magnificent book gives great insight into actress Dame Judi Dench, one of my all time favorites, as she is interviewed about the Shakespearean roles she has played over the years. We learn not only about her, but also about the many plays themselves. In fact, I gained more insight into the Bard's work by reading this than by attending any class on his plays. A highly recommended gem!

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As I headed into the final days of my holiday season, I was all prepared to wind down my 2023 reading season with some lighter, more festive reading.

However, when you receive an invitation to enter the literary world of both Dame Judi Dench and William Shakespeare?

You take it. The end result is what will unquestionably be one of 2024's most unique and satisfying reading experiences for this planned April 2024 release.

"Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays the Rent" finds the now 89-year-old actress remarkably open and insightful as she sits down in a series of intimate conversations with actor and director Brendan O'Hea to invite us into a journey about every Shakespearean role she has played throughout her acclaimed and award-winning seven-decade career - from Lady Macbeth and Titania to Ophelia and Cleopatra and countless others. "Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays the Rent" is a remarkable experience as Dench discusses with stunning clarity and insight her early days, her triumphs, her disasters, her collaborators, her backstage shenanigans, the secrets of her rehearsal process, and a wealth of thoughts and experiences on working time and again with "the man who pays the rent" whether that be on stage, on television, in film, or even on the radio.

Amidst it all, we also gain insight into the remarkable Dench from personal storytelling to vignettes on audiences, critics, rehearsal room etiquette, her interpretations of some of Shakespeare's most famous scenes, and so much more.

I was enchanted from beginning to end.

While "Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays the Rent" didn't offer me my planned light reading, it offered me so much more from Dench's bright and lively personality, radical candor, and incredible sense of humor and obvious comfort with O'Hea and this incredibly satisfying dialogue.

For fans of Shakespeare, there's no question this is an absolute must.

For Dench fans, there's no question this is an absolute must-read experience.

It's ultimately a love letter to Shakespeare from an actress widely considered one of Britain's true greats. It seems appropriate that Dench received an Academy Award for, yes, a Shakespearean role (Queen Elizabeth I in "Shakespeare in Love"). Dench has also received five Best Actress Oscar nominations, three Best Supporting Actress nominations, six British Academy Film awards, four British Academy Television awards, two Golden Globe awards, two Screen Actors Guild awards, a Tony award, and seven Laurence Olivier awards.

Mark your calendars. "Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays the Rent" is definitely one for the must-read list in 2024.

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Judi Dench has written a wonderful memoir of her acting the roles she played in Shakespeares plays.She shares her thoughts on the plays on characters.Really a charming informative read.#netgalley #st.Martins

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I liked this book because I like Shakespeare. I have studied Shakespeare at length...I have taught is intriguing to read this book (Judi Dench) and to learn more about how The Bard has been a huge part of the lives of celebrities...written well...nonfiction that reads like fiction at times...a page turner. Would have used this book when teaching. Thanks Netgalley.

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Whether you’re a novice in the world of Shakespeare and looking for an entry point, or you’re a longtime scholar, this book capturing Judi Dench’s unique perspective is a must for your library.

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This was a delightful book about Dame Judy Denche’s relationship to Shakespear. It was immensely funny and well written. I loved the banter between Judy and Brendan. You can tell that they are good friends and very comfortable with each other.
I had read many of Shakespeare’s plays, and seen my fare share or them as movies. I did not know that Judy had played in so many of his plays. Her dry wit and hilarious humor truly shined in this book. This is a great book for anybody who loved Shakespear. Even if you don’t know much about his plays, you will enjoy this book.

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It's an amazing conversation/interview, though it requires that, as a prerequisite for enjoying this book, you must love Shakespeare and/or Judi Dench (obviously). The rhythm of Shakespeare’s words, coupled with Judi Dench’s remembrances and analyses, could only be made more fantastic on audio.

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Dame Judi Dench’s book is an absolute gem and a gift for anyone who loves Shakespeare. Her insights into the characters, language, and plots of many of my favorite Shakespearean plays are breathtaking. Although I studied the plays in multiple college courses and have taught five of them to my high school students, Ms. Dench provides a completely new perspective from her decades as an actor that will absolutely inform the way I teach these plays in the future. It feels auspicious that I was given this digital ARC the week I began teaching Hamlet to my seniors. Thank you so much for the privilege of reading this book before its release date. I have already pre-ordered Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays the Rent as an audiobook so I can hear Ms. Dench’s undoubtedly marvelous recitations of the lines she quotes from the plays.

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Shout out to NetGalley for the ARC!

I will read - and watch - Dame Judi Dench in anything and everything, and this interview-meets-memoir did NOT disappoint.

Lovers of Shakespeare, the stage (or neophytes of both) will find these anecdotes compelling and casually instructive. DJD’s body of - Shakespearean - work is staggering: her skills and talents are unparalleled.

And if you need proof, tune into her Graham Norton interview & watch her (EFFORTLESSLY) hold a 2023 audience in the palm of her hand as she recites Sonnet 29 with grace, passion, and aplomb.

Resplendence personified.

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Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the opportunity to read "Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays The Rent" in exchange for my honest opinion.

I was ever so excited to read this book because of the great respect I have for Judi Dench. She explains and makes Shakespeare interesting and fun with her insight into characters and stories from her wonderful career in the theatre. She starts off by sharing from "Macbeth" her role as Lady Macbeth and how this role was the reason she went into the theatre, a role she first played in 1963 in Nottingham. She talks about her love for Stratford-Upon-Avon where she first went at the age of 18 in 1953 to see "King Lear" and dreamed of being a set designer. It's where she met her husband Michael Williams. Her mother, and Michael's parents all lived with them.

The other plays and characters that she talks about in the book are:
"A Midsummer Night's Dream" where she played Titania, Hermina and the First Fairy.
"Twelfth Night" she was Viola and Maria.
"Merchant of Venice" she was Portia.
"Hamlet" she was Ophelia and Gertrude.
"Coriolanus" she was Volumnia.
"As You Like It" she was Phebe.
"Measure For Measure" she was Isabella.
"Much Ado About Nothing" she was Beatrice.
"King Lear" she played Regan, Cordelia and Goneril.
"Comedy of Errors" she was Adriana.
"Richard II" she was Queen Isabel.
"Anthony and Cleopatra" she was Cleopatra.
"Cymbeline" she was Imogen and her brother Jeff played the title role.
"All's Well That Ends Well" is was the Countess of Roussillon.
"Henry V" is was Katherine on stage and Hostess in Kenneth Branagh's film version.
"The Merry Wives of Windsor" she was Mistress Quickly and Anne Page.
"Richard III" she was the Duchess of York.
"The Winter's Tale" she was Hermione, Perdita and Paulina.
"Romeo and Juliet" she was Juliet.

She tells fabulous laugh out loud, totally brilliant stories. She shares the absolutely hilarious things that she has done - on stage and off. She remembers minute details from costumes, to everyone that worked on each production. She can recite quotes from the plays, remembering her lines from 1960. She can explain the lines and the words with such clarity - better than any teacher in school has. Reading her book is like sitting with her as she tells these stories over a cup of tea. She shares that her grandson thinks she's the most childish person he knows. She relates how she enjoys playing games, tricks and dares, jokes and hiding from people. She talks about a good theatre company and how they become your second family. She shares how she doesn't like to be alone. Is known to have lunch with her driver who picks her up before and after theatre performances. On the subject of bad reviews she says that you learn from them and become a better actress. There is magic to be mined from mistakes.

The book has many of Ms. Dench's pencil sketches - the characters from the plays or renderings of some of the costumes. They add to the book immensely to see such a personal touch.

She has worked with some of the greats: Richard Burton, John Neville, Michael Redgrave, John Gielgud, Peggy Ashcroft, Benedict Cumberbatch, Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons, Kenneth Branagh. Frank Sinatra bought her husband a drink in New York once and she tells a great story surrounding that meeting.

She was involved in the campaign to save the Rose Theatre, the spot where Shakespeare stood. She's very committed to the people who buy tickets to see plays in the theatre. She doesn't like to see cancelled shows because that would be disappointing those people and she never wants to let the audience down.

In 1987 she directed a play for the first time at the request of her good friend Kenneth Branagh. Directing is not her favourite bit to do. Too many decisions and responsibility rest on the director. When the actors gang up on you, they don't tell you which pub they'll be hanging out at.

On the future of Shakespeare she says that his words will continue to exist because he's become so part of our everyday language. It's a bridge across cultures and young people are the custodians of these glorious plays. You can find everything in a Shakespearean play: oppression, ambition, loneliness, remorse, jealousy, love... Her advice to future Shakespearean actors: be kind, be curious, be playful and keep a sense of humour. If only there were more than 5 stars to give her!!

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I was unsurprisingly delighted by this - Dench has so many wonderful stories, and has been a performer of Shakespeare for the majority of her career. I don't think I woul assign this full text to acting or drama students, but certainly some excrepts. This was a great read and would be appropriate for any Shakespeare or acting fans 13 or above.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the review copy eARC.

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Loved, loved this book. I’ve taught for over 40 years but found so much insightful and valuable depth into the plays that I wish I was back in the classroom to share it. The book shares the background and insights of Dench’s performances of Shakespeare’s female figures. She also gives background into directors, co-stars, language and staging. Dench is funny, forthright, and helpful in letting the reader/audience in on all she knows of her Shakespeare experience.

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Very enjoyable and highly recommended. I will definitely listen to the audiobook. Full of interesting facts, stories and tidbits of a life well lived. Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book

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This book was simply lovely. There is such a contrast between the scholarly approach of Brendan O’Hea’s question and the actor’s approach of Dench. It often leads to funny banter. I am in awe of the breadth of both of their knowledge of Shakespeare. I have always loved Judi Dench, but this insight into how she sees characters and brings them to life on the stage or screen makes me appreciate her so much more. This is a fantastic book for Shakespeare lovers, actors, or the casual reader. It was both insightful and delightful.

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Thank you St Martin's for inviting me to read and review Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays the Rent. This is such a treat of a book.

This audiobook is such a delight (I had that to listen to and it added to me reading of this ebook), and I recommend the audio format over the physical book so you can hear Judi Dench talk about her roles and just enjoy the interview style storysharing. This is one to listen to and enjoy, it's a great book to read and listen to with the audiobook.

Stand outs, other than this being a most welcome change from my usual audiobooks:
1. Humor, the stories are funny, joyful, and I felt a lot of respect for the stories, the opportunity that the interviews offered.
2. History and insights into Judi Dench's long career with Shakespeare, her behind the scenes stories and rich detail are captivating
3. Her recall of lines, passages from Shakespeare, what a gift to listen to her perform

Highly recommend. If I taught Shakespeare I would assign this to my students!

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While my knowledge of Shakespeare is limited, after reading this book, I have a more insightful understanding of many of his masterpieces. The at times playful or incredibly delving banter between the interviewer (Brendan O’Hea) and Judi Dench enriched every page of this book.
Dench's candid revelations offer a rare glimpse behind the curtains of her illustrious career, unveiling treasures of reminiscences and thought-provoking perspectives that were simply delightful.

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Long before Judi Dench played M in the James Bond series she began her career on stage playing numerous Shakespeare characters. In this marvelous book, she talks about each character she played. My first encounter with Shakespeare was reading Macbeth as a junior in high school. Lady Macbeth trying to wash away the imaginary blood on her hands remains vivid in my memory. Dench recounts playing Lady Macbeth way back in 1963, what Dench believes drove this character, and the techniques used to bring her to life on the stage. Throughout the rest of this entertaining and educational book, Dench talks about playing many other famous Shakespeare characters including, Ophelia and Gertrude from Hamlet and Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing. This is a charming book for all fans of Shakespeare and the art of acting.

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laugh-riot, laugh-out-loud, situational-humor, verbal-humor, historic-theatres, interviews, actors, family, famous-persons, commentary, memories, stage-plays, unputdownable*****

William Shakespeare is the unseen protagonist in this fun and fascinating book of the memories of this very well-known, energetic, and talented actress. The book is chaptered by Shakespeare's plays and the characters she portrayed. Expect insights, bloopers, and general hilarity amongst the historical facts relating to the time in which the plays were written.
The goal of the writer "had been to record her talking about all the Shakespeare parts she had played and offer it to the archive department at Shakespeare's globe." "The title is derived from the name that Judi and her husband gave to Shakespeare when they were working for the Royal Shakespeare Company." "The interviews were conducted over four years."
A wonderful book to be enjoyed again and again!
I requested and received a free temporary EARC from St. Martin's Press via NetGalley. Thank you!
Available 23 Apr 2024

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Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays the Rent is a compilation of interviews between Brendan O'Hea and Dame Judi Dench. Their humorous conversations take a look into the actress' life experiences performing Shakespeare's work. There are chapters dedicated to each of the plays that Judi has performed in from Romeo & Juliet, to Hamlet, to her least favourite of them all - The Merchant of Venice.

I was given a rare opportunity to be given the audio and digital ARC around the same time. I decided to do a read along, and it was the best decision!

The audiobook is narrated by Brendan O'Hea and the talented Barbara Flynn. Listeners also get the opportunity to hear Judi Dench recite some of Shakespeare's most famous lines at the start of some chapters. These lines are not included in the digital copy. It is also easier to pick up more of the jest and camaraderie between the Brendan and Judi that didn't come out as clearly in the digital copy.

In the digital book, having the ability to read along with the narrators as they perform their lines in Shakespeare's iambic pentameter really helps pull you into the book. Readers are also privy to some of Judi's recent illustrations which are scattered throughout the book as she sketches some of the characters she has portrayed and Shakespeare himself.

Overall, this is a fantastic book! The audio/digital book combo complimented each other immensely. Regardless of which version you choose, you're in for a treat. Judi Dench is hilarious and her expertise in portraying Shakespeare's leading ladies is unmatched.

Thank you to St. Martin's Press (digital ARC) and Macmillan Audio (audio ARC) for the opportunity to read this title in advance of its publishing date. Opinions are my own.

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When it comes to reading Shakespeare, I’m not a fan (high school in the late 80’s and early 90’s). The older I’ve gotten, I’ve discovered that Shakespeare is fine, depending on the media. I prefer my Shakespeare in performance -

Judi Dench - I’ve not seen her much - I love to hate her as Lady Catherine de Bourgh in Pride and Prejudice (2005) and besides Daniel Craig, she was the best part of the Bond movies, but knowing of her career, her professional longevity, when I was invited to read this, I happily accepted. Engaging and interesting, I enjoyed this one a lot.

Actors, Shakespeare lovers, and fans of Judi Dench will adore this one.

I read this in e-book format, and while I recommend it, I think I would have enjoyed it even more in audiobook format.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the DRC

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This was a fun, quick book written in dialogue between the two authors. It was a really fun and not too heavy look at the life of a Shakespearean actor. The dialogues took place over four years and were lively and interesting to read. I bet it would make an even better audiobook because I could "hear" Judi Dench's voice in my head as I read.

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This is another one of Judi Dench’s masterpieces. Yet, this one isn’t on the stage or on film. This book consists of interviews by Brendan O’Hea with performances Judi Dench did over the years of Shakespeare's plays. Some may say that she was born to perform and enlighten her audiences with tragedy and joy.

Like many others, I love watching Judi Dench in movies. “Shakespeare in Love” is a favorite of mine where she plays the mighty Queen Elizabeth. She is powerful with the keen ability to understand the characters and move her audiences with emotional appeal.

While reading this book, I kept wondering how different it would be to attend one her performances on stage with her beautiful costumes. She presents herself as being reassuring, confident and witty at times. Dench has benefitted greatly having a photographic memory. She said one has to be inside the character’s head and know what’s going on with the play. “Each part is a jigsaw piece and needs to fit in the overall design.”

The interviewer said to Dench that he often feels like he needs a history lesson before seeing the plays. The same is true for reading this book. Unfortunately, I’m not familiar with most plays by Shakespeare. I wish I was while reading her notes. Those that have read or seen his plays are going to have a greater grasp of the finer details. I appreciated the interviews and it gave me more of an interest with this beloved historical figure and his poetic dramas.

This book would be ideal as an Audible to hear the voice of the woman we love: Dame Judi Dench. However, her art sketches in the chapters were a nice added touch. She was asked what she thought of the critics. She said, “It’s just one person’s opinion.”

My thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for allowing me to read an advanced copy of this book with an expected release date of April 23, 2024.

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Brendan O'Hea interviews Dame Judi Dench who reflects on her connection to the Bard through her time on stage and film, undertaking roles from Shakespeare's plays. A fun read that is not an analysis of the plays, but a noted actor's reflections, documented in a series of interviews conducted over a period of four years.

For lovers of the Bard and fans of Judi!

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What a wonderful book -- a personal memoir mixed in with commentary on our favorite bard and --more to the point -- bringing his words to such life in such great company. You can't go wrong with this read.

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Thanks Netgalley for allowing me to read this book. Judi Dench has been a well known actress for many years. This book gives us a glimpse into her life while acting in different plays. It takes us behind the scenes. I liked this book.

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This was an intriguing collection of questions and answers - more of an interview in print than a memoir or biography. I would imagine it to be a fantastic audiobook. Although I could not help but hear Dame Judi's answers in her inimitable voice as I read, I think I would have actually preferred to listen as I'm not a big fan of the Q&A format in print. Still, there's so much of interest here that it is well worth the time for any fan of her work or of Shakespeare in general. Her insights into the characters she's portrayed and her various performances were fascinating. For me it was not so much a sit-and-read-through book as a visit-from-time-to-time one, and it was a delightful way to expand my knowledge of Shakespeare and the plays.

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An entertaining read, perfect for fans of Judi Dench. Her personality shines through as she reminisces about her performances. Each chapter focuses on a different play or theme.

Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a copy.

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I received a free copy of, Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays the Rent, by Judi Dench; Brendan O'Hea, from the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This is a great book for fans of Shakespeare and or Judi Dench. I have not read a whole lot of Shakespeare at all, but Im a fan of Judi Dench. This is an interesting book. Judi Dench tells you all about the plays by Shakespeare.

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I enjoyed reading Judi Dench's thoughts Shakespeare's plays and characters. Learning
how staging, location and the audience impact actors' performances. The stories about her
fellow actors, rehearsals and costumes were entertaining.
It has renewed an interest in rereading Shakespeare.
#ShakespearetheManWhoPaystheRent #NetGalley

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really funny and fun analysis of Shakespeare's characters by one of the biggest Shakespeare actors of our modern age, Dame Judi Dench. Thanks for the arc.

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What a charming book! In conversation with her collaborator Brendan O'Hea, Dame Judi Dench reminisces about her life as an actor in Shakespeare's plays. If you've ever seen her on screen or in person, you'll hear her voice in your head. She speaks about Shakespeare as if he were an old friend, sometimes brilliant but sometimes … not. The plays (fully explained, so no expertise is needed) form the framework for her anecdotes and musings about love, jealousy, rage, joy, and so much more. Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays the Rent is a theater memoir, a primer on acting, an autobiography, and a far-ranging conversation with a friend, all rolled into one. Highly recommend!

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the digital ARC.

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When I was contacted by the publisher with an invitation to read this book, I was over the moon. I had heard about it and was eagerly awaiting its release. It was an immeasurable treat to have early access.

This title offers a series of reflections and conversations between Judi Dench and Brendan O’Hea. Originally written for an archive, the two got the idea to publish a book together, and the reader is so lucky that they made that decision.

Within these pages, readers get to share in Judi’s life and her professional career. Her love for her husband, her daughter and her craft all come across. She is witty, wise, and it was an absolute pleasure to read her words.

Judi Dench and her husband, referred to Shakespeare as the man who pays the rent because they were in so many productions over the years. However, Shakespeare never really became routine for them and Judi brought her best self to every performance.

The first play that is reflected upon is Macbeth. Judi Dench very much views it as a play about the relationship between Lord and Lady Macbeth. She sees the deterioration of their marriage as a true tragedy.

Included here are Dench’s thoughts on nineteen plays interspersed with other reflections. A couple of examples of these are Company and Fireside Ramblings.

For anyone who admires Judi Dench or who wants to more deeply understand the bard, this book is a must read. I adored it.

Many thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for this title. All opinions are my own.

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I have always admired Judi Dench as a superlative actor (for almost seven decades!) and a delightfully down-to-earth, outspoken person. But I don't believe I've ever seen her in a Shakespeare play, even though she has starred or been featured in many of them. Reading this book--illustrated with Dame Judi's own sketches--makes me wish I had! Fellow actor Brendan O'Hea interviewed her over a 4-year period about her experience as a Shakespearean actor, largely with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Shakespeare scholars and superfans will enjoy Dench's lively multipage summaries of 20 of the plays in which she has appeared. I must admit I did some skimming of these descriptions because of time constraints, but I will keep my Kindle copy to revisit when I next have the opportunity to see one of these plays.

For the rest of us, the book is chockful of Judi Dench's insights, philosophies, and comments on a wide variety of related topics, including but not limited to: her "fantastic childhood," Shakespeare's language and the many words and phrases he originated that are now part of our lives, her fellow actors and other theatre personnel, hilarious onstage mistakes and mishaps, staging and scenery, acting tips, working with her husband, audiences, rehearsals, and how the style of playing the Bard's works has changed over the years.

O'Hea tells us that Dench has a photographic memory, able to spout dozens of scenes and speeches and describe in detail the costumes she wore. She works entirely on instinct and firmly believes there is no one way to play Shakespearean roles. She is hopeful that his plays will continue to be performed in the future, as she feels that his work makes us all feel less alone. Dame Judi is playful, witty, frank, sometimes a bit raunchy, and a deeply sincere believer in Shakespeare's brilliance and lasting value. It's an entrancing read.

My thanks to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and provide an honest review of this book.

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Review: Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays the Rent by Judi Dench with Brendan O’Hea

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to sit down with Judi Dench and chat about acting and Shakespeare? Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays the Rent is your opportunity.

Written as transcribed conversations with Brendan O’Hea, Dame Dench dishes on her experience acting in Shakespearean plays. It is a fascinating introspection into the process of and community created in stage acting. I especially loved the reflective chapters on the profession of acting and the impact of Shakespeare.

If you love Shakespeare, Judi Dench, or reading memoirs about actors, grab a cuppa and get cozy with this book.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read this ARC. This review is my honest opinion.

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I received a copy of the book "Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays the Rent" by Judi Dench and Brendan O'Hea. from NetGalley. Judi Dench knows a lot about the plays by William Shakespeare. She had been in a lot of the author's plays over her career. She writes this book with friend Brendan O'Hea. the whole book is like a conversation she is having with her friend. She goes into detail describing each play, the characters she played, the plot of each play. I admit I am aware of Shakespeare but do not know a lot of the plays and their plots. Judi Dench goes into detail of each play describing the character she plays and the other characters and the plots. I found this quite interesting to learn more about the Shakespeare plays. She has been performing in Shakespeare plays from a young adult up through her older years. I would think this would be a good book for Shakespeare fans or fans of actors who have been in Shakespeare plays.

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"Her insights on Shakespeare are incisive and refreshing in their actor at the top of their game for nearly seven decades [led] me by the hand and introduced me to these extraordinary Shakespearean women...the only thing she's certain about is that there is no right way of performing Shakespeare."
-co-writer Brendan O'Hea

Through a series of interviews, writer/director/actor Brendan O'Hea chats with Dame Judi Dench. This conversation between good friends is presented to the reading audience. What a delight!

Possessing a remarkable memory, Judi Dench shares her thought processes through the years of preparing for roles such as Lady Macbeth, Titania and Cleopatra among others. "Macbeth was the reason I went into the theatre." It started when she visited Stratford-Upon-Avon at age 18 with her parents. "In all the memories I have [Stratford] is where my heart is. It's where I feel centred. So much of what Shakespeare talks about in his plays can be referenced to the countryside around Stratford."

"The word 'play' is at the heart of what we do as actors-players putting on plays by playwrights in playhouses for playgoers. Play is everything...My parents...encouraged [my brothers and I] to fail and risk and make and imagine...We spent our childhood surrounded by books and being taken to the theatre a lot."

"I love being part of a company...It was thrilling being able to have a walk-on part in one production, play a character in another, understudy in something's how we grew as performers: scores of actors, playing multiple parts across several productions, watching and learning from others...".

Presenting a master class of sorts for the reader, Judi explains, "Acting is a three way conversation between you, the other actors and the audience. "It is not an actors job to make a character likeable, but to make them understandable." She is known for listening to the vibes of an audience before making a stage entrance and for listening intently to each actor on stage. Occasional tweaking might be needed.

Dame Judi has a raunchy sense of humor. One evening, she spotted a shock of white hair, thinking it belonged to a director she had worked with many times. When she made an entrance near where he was sitting, she dropped a note in his lap. "I suppose a f..."s out of the question". It was read by "a much older gentleman who looked very alarmed."

Judi Dench has amassed a wealth of knowledge about Shakespeare. Her love of his works is displayed by her thorough analysis of each role, starting from her time working with the RSC and the Old Vic. Her playful manner tends to make Shakespeare very accessible. "There's something for everybody in Shakespeare. Everything you have felt or are yet to feel is all there in his plays: oppression, ambition, loneliness, remorse...Shakespeare has examined every single emotion...[He] belongs to everybody. And we must allow who we are as individuals to colour our interpretation of his words: You've got to find out what his words mean for you" Highly recommended!

Thank you St. Martin's Press and Net Galley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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love this book and her inisghts in all the different roles that she has played during her acting times. loved that this took place over 4 years and the pictures. love hearing about her husband and kids.

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This is transcribed from a set of discussions with Judi Dench about acting and Shakespeare and the roles she's played and her career and life. Like Dame Judi herself, it's charming and fun and thoughtful and smart. Actors will value her thoughts about roles; theater-goers will love her backstage and on-stage stories; and anyone who has ever liked her in film or TV will enjoy this compendium of thoughts.

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When I was invited to read this by the publisher, my first thoughts were reluctant. Yes, I've enjoyed many of Judi Dench's performances on screen, but I'm by no means a lover of Shakespeare. Would it be an inaccessible read for me? Well, it turned out to be a marvelous, marvelous read, and I'm glad I took a chance on it.
The entire book is a series of back-and-forth conversations with Judi Dench. Each of her Shakespearean performances gets an in-depth analysis by her and her interviewer, interspersed with her thoughts and anecdotes about audiences, rehearsals, and other matters of theatre. Her voice and manner are so unmistakable that you can practically hear her speaking every word. Her love for the stage and her deep understanding of her characters completely brought me along for the ride as an enthusiastic reader (even though I thought I wouldn't be!).
The highest praise I can give this book is that it actually stirred in me a faint desire to read a bit more Shakespeare — something I certainly didn't expect at the outset. Judi's love for the language was contagious.

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Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays the Rent is a fabulous walk through the Shakespearian career of Dame Judi Dench. Her delightful wit and sharp tongue come through in every paragraph. It has been fun to see Shakespear through a true thespian's eyes, and to have her personality with it has been such a wonderful experience. Thank you #NetGalley for allowing me to give my honest opinion of #ShakespearTheManWhoPaysTheRent.

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What an enchanting and unique book! A pleasure from start to finish as the wonderful Judi Dench shares with Brendan O'Hea her detailed memories of her career and her long love affair with Shakespeare’s plays and the theatre more generally. Her sharp wit and deep insights about the human condition and her own very full life make this a book to treasure and to pick up and feed on again and again.

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I would like to thank St Martin's Press and Net Galley for the opportunity to read this as an ARC. I would also like to thank Sara Beth Haring for bringing this little gem to my attention. This book is a narrative of the Shakespearean Plays that Dame Judi Dench has appeared in throughout her career. It is written as a two handed discussion between her and actor/director/friend Brendan O'Hea. It is a series of intimate, unabridged , delightful conversations, on plays, acting, critics ,life and Shakespeare.I am a fan of Dame Judi Dench, but I confess I was not aware of all her time spent in Shakespeares plays. The title is something she and her late actor husband , Micheal Williams, used to say when they started another Shakespearean play-since they did so many for a time, he became-"the man who pays the rent". Her stories, musings and insights are all in this vein, personal, unvarnished and fairly light hearted, even when discussing plays and roles she disliked. I am familiar with a lot of the plays, but I feel like I need to go back and read a few that I am not as familiar with( A Winters Tale, The Merry Wives of Windsor, for 2), and then comeback and reread those parts.However, all in all, it was a delightful book and I am very glad I read it.

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Any fan of William Shakespeare and/or Judi Dench will find this interview form book utterly fascinating. Dench and her co-author Brendan O'Shea (also her good friend), talk about Shakespeare's plays they have been in, the bard's language and the complexity of the plays' plots. Also,hilarious backstage hijinks and mishaps and the importance of the director's notes. This book covers Dench's storied stage career an gives insight in how she became a UK stage icon.

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This is the story of a married couple who teach and write but she is more famous and published than he. He travels to France on a fellowship to try to get inspiration to write, but finds only that he prefers drinking. He returns and continues to let drink cloud his thoughts while his wife gains inspiration to write about his spiraling.

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I was looking forward to this one, expecting a fun, gossipy walk down memory lane with Judi Dench, full of stories about hijinx backstage and amusing flubs onstage. Well, there was that, but mostly, this was a masterclass in acting and in Shakespeare. It's done in the form of an interview and discussion with Brendan O'Hea, Judi's friend and fellow Shakespearean actor and director, asking the questions. I had not realized how many substantial roles for women there are in Shakespeare, and of course, Judi Dench has performed most of them at least once. It's obvious that she thought a lot about the characters over the years, and especially while rehearsing and performing, about what makes them tick. She uses examples of her own performances as well as those of actors she has worked with over the years. She has even taken a stab at directing. Even if, like me, you've only seen a handful of Shakespeare plays, you can get a lot out of Judi Dench's analysis and even look forward to getting deeper into the characters and stories, as she does. There are more things in heaven and earth and in this book, than I dreamt of. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a digital review copy.

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