James finds his way to the stage through Shakespeare

Alan Owens

Reporter:

Alan Owens

James DeVita performs In Acting Shakespeare
CLASSICAL actor James De Vita might have been born to be on stage, but he came to it from an unlikely background.

CLASSICAL actor James De Vita might have been born to be on stage, but he came to it from an unlikely background.

A fisherman by day, attending community college by night, the native of Long Island believed that honing the craft and understanding the prose written by the likes of William Shakespeare required higher learning to be deciphered.

Then, on a chance visit to a theatre in New York, he saw Sir Ian McKellen perform his one man show Acting Shakespeare and his life was irrevocably changed.

“My career was inspired by watching Mr McKellen,” says the star of the one man show In Acting Shakespeare, coming to the Lime Tree next week.

“I was just a kid 25 years ago and they took us on a class trip to see the show. That moment of seeing and hearing Shakespeare and poetry for the first time and to this day I don’t know why, but it just fascinated me and it changed my life.”

This moment and his life before and after is documented in De Vita’s one man tour de force, which is liberally interspersed and accentuated with some of Shakespeare’s own works, both famous and obscure, plus a parallel story about the young playwright finding his way in the world.

“The structure is based on the way that Ian McKellen did his show, because I wrote to him for permission,” he explains.

“At first I thought I would use much of his show and re-adapt it for myself and that proved not to be a very good theatrical event.

“I picked pieces of my own that spoke to my life at that point, so it could be more accessible that way,” he explains.

De Vita warns that the show is funny and not “a teaching show or a dry, treatise on Shakespearean acting”.

“I made a lot of mistakes so a lot of it is quite funny, it is not an evening of serious Shakespearean study. I made a mess of things for a long time and I can laugh about it now.”

In Acting Shakespeare is in the Lime Tree on October 9. See www.limetreetheatre.ie