You have been incredibly prolific with Shakespeare in your career, more so than any other cast member. What draws you to Shakespeare again and again?
My first exposure was very classically Laurence Olivier’s "Hamlet" seen on TV as a child, in a poorly translated Persian (my native tongue). At that young age, I was obviously more interested in the ghost and misty battlements than anything else. But the first play I was able to read in full text for a school curriculum was – rather unusually for a school programme – "Coriolanus". The guidance of a passionate instructor made me all at one go fall in love with Shakespeare and want to become a teacher myself. I am much beholden to the gentleman for both reasons, and one of the highlights of my career many years later was to have his son among my students at university for a course on Shakespeare!
As a distinguished scholar of Shakespeare, can you talk us through your educational journey with Shakespeare?
It is now established that Shakespeare collaborated with Thomas Middleton to write "Timon of Athens"; how does this play differ from Shakespeare's solo body of work either in structure, tone, lyrical pace, etc.
Do you think using texts and sonnets from Shakespeare's vast body of work is an effective way of adapting and evolving his plays into something even more modern and empowering?