Juliet Stevenson has argued that Shakespeare should be performed in modern dress and that some of his plays should be “buried and forgotten”.
The actor also said the best Shakespeare productions are often created outside of the UK, because the works are not treated with the same reverence, which Stevenson described as “stultifying and inhibiting”.
Stevenson was speaking at the Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards, where she won the accolade for best actress for her performance in The Doctor at the Almeida Theatre.
The awards took place at the Prince of Wales Theatre on February 11.
Stevenson told The Stage she agreed with views held by director Robert Icke that Shakespeare should be performed in modern costume.
She said: “If you put it in modern dress, that puts a lens on it and says ‘How is this going to stand up to our current society and culture?’ and you think if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.
“There are a few plays that should be buried and forgotten forever, The Taming of the Shrew being one of them. History overtakes some of them, and I think the others […] stand up in all their wit and wisdom.”
Stevenson added: “I adore Shakespeare, but I only want to see Shakespeare reinterpreted for now, I have no interest in the historical stuff, I don’t care how it was done in his time, I have no desire to revive that, it’s not an archive, it’s not a museum, it’s only about now.”
The actor also argued that in the UK, Shakespeare’s plays are often put into a separate category to other writers, which inhibits how they are performed.
“I often think the best Shakespeare is done abroad because [the plays] don’t have that reverence which is so stultifying and inhibiting,” she said.