During Britweek’s opening night celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and birthday on April 23, 2016, at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, actors compared the legendary works of Shakespeare to Prince. While this comparison may have been a stretch since Shakespeare’s work has been adapted and modernized for 400 years, there were a lot of parallels given for these artists. The theme for this special event was “murder, lust and madness”, and there were many laughs, sonnets and celebrations.
27 accomplished actors performed chosen passages from Shakespeare that was directed and produced by Louis Fantasia. The cast included Jimmy Akingbola, Ashley Bell, Eric Braeden, Adan Canto, Jane Carr, Suzan Crowley, Karen David, Neil Dickson, Joely Fisher, Judy Geeson, Michele Greene, Ioan Gruffudd, Randy Guiaya, Harry Hamlin, Lexie Helgerson, Isabella Hofmann, Stacy Keach, Jen Lee, Jack Lowe, Jim Nowakowski, Timothy Omundson, Victoria Platt, Joe Spano, Joan Van Ark, Sherry Williams, Robert Wisdom and Michael York.
While interviewing many of these actors on the red carpet, here are their profound words about the legendary bodies of work by Shakespeare and Prince.
Shakespeare versus Prince
They were both singularly unique for their time. They were so prolific in their creativity. They never stopped. It just kept pouring out of them. Prince, from day 1 until just a few days ago was still creating and putting out his art. Shakespeare the same. How many words did that many put on that page, no one has come up with that figure, but it was a whole lot. And just the variety of what they did. Prince could do anything. He could do jazz, pop, hip hop, rock n roll, classical, he could play anything. Shakespeare the same thing. He was equally effective writing comedy, drama, the gambit of emotions, it’s all there. ~ Timothy Omundson (Galavant)
I’m not sure there is any adequate comparison that would do justice to either one of them. They were both in their own right great artists who have brought amazing things to the world and to their fans. I certainly hope that Prince’s work endures as long as Shakespeare’s work has, but it’s a testament to Shakespeare and his finger on the pulse of humanity that his work has been able to survive for 400 years, maybe Prince will be out there in that heady group of people in 400 years, I don’t know, let’s hope so. ~ Harry Hamlin (L.A. Law and Mad Men, who explained the Macbeth superstition to us)
Well both of them are legends, and have left quite the legacy for many thereafter to embrace and to be inspired by. Shakespeare with obviously his magical place, which been adapted and readapted to fit into modern times. And I think with Prince as well, he’s one of those legends that up and coming musicians and students will all be looking at his work, and just scratching their heads thinking, how on earth did he come up with such brilliant music? His passing was a real punch in the stomach to say the least, but all the good ones are going, Bowie and now Prince. ~ Karen David (Galavant and Cold Feet)
They both believed in their art. Prince did not care about fitting in. He did what he wanted to do… I didn’t know Shakespeare, but I’m sure he gotta a lot of heat about the content he was putting on stage… They both believed in their art….That’s what connects them, they were both two artists who didn’t worry about what other people thought. They just put their work out there, and was like, this is what I’m about it, love it or hate it, I’m always going to be around. ~ Jimmy Akingbola (Sons of Liberty)
I don’t know if you can or you can’t. I don’t see them in the same light. What I do know is that we’re loosing a lot of people. ~ Lesley Nicol (Downton Abbey, Mrs. Patmore) VIDEO
I wouldn’t say I’d use the word compare. I don’t think anybody can be compared to Shakespeare, or anybody can be compared to Prince. I think It’s a great tribute to Shakespeare the fact that a lot of these idols in the music world and in the playwright world have taken a lot of things from Shakespeare, and brought them into the modern age, and a lot times we don’t know it. ~ Jack Lowe (Solitary)
They’re both unique….Without knowing it, everyone takes a little bit from Shakespeare, and I think everyone takes a little bit from Prince. ~ Audrey Hamilton (Shadows in the Woods)
Many thanks to Britweek for hosting this wonderful celebration of the arts. BritWeek is a non–profit organization, started in Los Angeles in 2007 by Nigel Lythgoe and the then Consul General Bob Peirce, to highlight the creative relationship between the United Kingdom and California. BritWeek’s mission is to create greater awareness of the many ways in which Britain and the US work closely together, and further build this relationship to advance business, the arts, and philanthropy in both of these thriving regions of the world. For more information about the 50 Britweek events over the next 10 days (including a May 1 gala), visit http://britweek.org
© Liz H Kelly @LizHKelly, National Digital Entertainment Columnist and Goody Awards Founder