Most people never get the opportunity to experience theatre life on the road firsthand but now, thanks to Kevin Spacey and director Sam Mendes, everyone is able to go along for an amazing ride in the new documentary, NOW: In the Wings on a World Stage. The 90-minute film follows twenty British and American actors on a whirlwind ten month international tour of Richard III and will be available for digital download beginning May 2. [Pre-order HERE] I highly recommend it.
If you are a theatre artist of any kind – actor, director, stage manager, producer – or just a lover of Shakespeare itself, this breathtaking film will take you on a journey unlike any you’ve ever seen. In over 200 performances, and across 3 continents, Spacey and the troupe reveal some of the most intimate moments behind the scenes of their staging of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy, Richard III.
You’ll see excerpts from the play on stages such as the ancient Amphitheatre of Epidaurus in Greece where Julius Caesar sat and watched plays, and the gleaming National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing, a city in which the awestruck actors reverentially said felt “like another planet.”
Cast members talk about the nomadic experience of acting – its emotional demands and the spiritual catharsis that took place on this journey – their “adventure in the exotic” in Istanbul, finding each other’s rhythms, “corpsing” on stage, and what it was like walking through the “gladiator tunnel for actors” at the Teatro Politeama in Italy and speeding over the sand dunes of Doha.
It is a film that celebrates all that is special about the theatre, which in Mendes’ words is, “only an inch away from absurdity.”
Spacey calls it, “a close, backstage look at the total experience of being an actor and what it takes to form a company – from rehearsing every day and beginning to create a role with your director, crew and fellow actors to going on tour and spending a year together on the road in many different cultures and countries.” The title of the film, NOW, comes from the first words Richard speaks in the play, “Now is the winter of our discontent” and according to Spacey, “illustrates how the film puts you in the present tense, into the live moment onstage and brings the audience on the journey alongside us…I’ve made this film for my fans and for all those people who ask why the theatre means so much to me, and indeed to all actors. I hope this film might answer some of those questions.”
Shakespeare in LA readers can use the exclusive discount code SHAKESPEARE to receive $1 off the $12.99 download price at www.nowthefilm.com. Proceeds from the digital release go to The Kevin Spacey Foundation which helps emerging artists reach their full potential by creating opportunities in theatre and film. NOW will also screen in LA at the Sundance Sunset Cinema, 8000 West Sunset Blvd, May 9 – 15.
Richard III was part of a larger endeavor called The Bridge Project which grew out of Spacey and Mendes’ love of the living theatre. Mendes says, “The idea behind The Bridge Project was born out of a simple desire: a wish for artists, collaborators, and audiences on both sides of the Atlantic to experience one another’s work, talent, and artistry in the theater.”
During the 3-year project, Mendes directed five plays which included Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, As You Like It, Richard III and The Tempest, as well as Tom Stoppard’s adaptation of Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard.