On an early December evening, in a rehearsal studio on the western edge of Manhattan’s Clothing District, Eddie Izzard discusses audience expectations. talking about age.
“There are about four jokes out there,” she says.
Still, even the way Izzard utters that sentence is funny. After all, Izzard made her name in comedy. 2003 Tony Award-nominated British Broadway veteran), however firm she draws a line, they are, of course, one and the same, operating in different but overlapping modes. To do.
I love the fact that I’m playing a male character and a female character in this.
Izzard pulls a light moment out of the air in The Great Legacy, currently playing in Greenwich Village. Playing the roles of orphaned Pip, abandoned Miss Havisham, charming Estella, frantic Magwitch and a dozen others, she is a multiple character attributed to comedian Richard Pryor rather than drama theorist. technique, bringing her own archaic humor. A master of a packed solo stage.
At that night’s rehearsal, when Izzard loudly worried that her pip was blocking Miss Havisham’s audience’s view, at that moment in the scene, as well as Estella by her side, Havisham I can’t see it at all. fill in the blanks.
“This is pure storytelling,” says Izzard. “I have always said that drama is like the main meal and comedy is like the dessert. We love desserts. is.”
At 60, she is ready to prove herself.
“Drama is something I’ve always wanted to do, and I’ve come a long way to get there,” says Izzard. this show. In a multi-character solo show like this, Izzard found her gender fluidity helpful.
“I love the fact that I’m playing male and female characters in this,” she says. “And I hope Dickens thinks it’s okay.”
I felt very honored. I got promoted—I got promoted to her. It was like that. But I wasn’t actively campaigning for it.it happened by chance
Izzard likes to mention the novelist’s trip to New York to give a public reading. Because I did the reading, it also started with a reading. The streamlined adaptation is due to her brother, Mark Izzard, but when Eddie pitched the project to him, she meant they would work on the script together.
“I went back and read the book and started,” Mark said over the phone. All practical. So I just kept pushing. ”
Back in the rehearsal room, Eddie pulls out his phone and scrolls through, looking for summer 2020 photos. A time capsule image of an early pandemic performance. Shows how she, in a red dress, uses her handheld her microphone to set high expectations for a socially distanced audience on a windswept rooftop in the south of England.
“I said, ‘This is exactly what Dickens planned.'”
Theater rehearsal room It’s a weekday space and people tend to dress accordingly. But on that night in early December, Izzard wore a tailored black jacket over onyx tights, with a floral skirt that fluttered a few inches beneath the hem of the jacket for a splash of color. I was. On her feet are her tall lace-up high-heeled stunning black boots. This is the part of the costume that she wants to get used to.
“If you’re trans, you’re better off pretty well put together,” she says, sighing about the difference between paying close attention to her appearance and ditching the old. Overwhelmingly feminine. Woman. I mean, Marilyn Monroe wore a potato sack at one point in her photoshoot.
But as this record shows, Izzard isn’t just fair, he’s beautifully put together. If you’ve seen the 2009 documentary Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story, which includes a short section ridiculing her historical lack of fashion sense when it comes to standard man’s clothing, then this is the sartor’s eye. recognized as a leap.
A lot of people have been very welcoming and the young people are very open and wonderful.Some people are still transphobic, but I ignore them
When I ask her about her pronouns, she says:
It’s such a refreshing and practical statement because I think she’s done until she adds: The world changed them. ”
What is this?
“I was on the show. They said, ‘Do you want her/her or him/him? ‘” I said, “Oh, oh, it’s her.” I was thinking of changing them. Then the program ended and the whole world changed them. two days. ” She makes a series of explosion-like sound effects.
“In all the press, especially in the United States and the United Kingdom, I am probably the strongest known” – another sound effect, this hissing – “Australia, Canada and New Zealand also know me” – sound effect “she/she now” And I said “oh okay”.
She didn’t just agree to it, but she was surprised by the sheer abruptness with which her pronoun was adopted.
“I felt very honored,” she says. “I got promoted – she got promoted. A long time ago, some muttered, uh, how much notice do you need?
Coming out is inherently a political act, and Izzard is a political creature. At home, she is a longtime member of the UK Labor Party and hoped to become a candidate for a free seat in Parliament this fall. publicly made transphobic remarks, depicting what The Guardian called a “barrage of abuse.”
But Izzard says life has gotten easier since she came out in 1985 with greater mainstream awareness of transgender people and transgender issues.
“We were seen as non-humans, or toxic people,” she says. “And I realized that my job was to try to socialize being transgender. We struggled just trying to exist.”
She continues: Some are still transphobic” – she took a deep breath before she quietly concluded her sentence – “I ignore them.”
Izzard was only six when his mother died in 1968. In the documentary film Believe, there’s a sweet moment in which the former principal recalls her Teddy Bear show, where young Eddie staged at the foot of her bed using a bathrobe as a curtain for her stage.
Years later, when the Oliver Twist musical, Oliver!, which Izzard remembers as the first Dickens, was performed at school, she begged to appear but was assigned to play the clarinet in the orchestra. (Remembering this, she burst into singing snippets of her song that she longed to sing.
The same thing happened with The Pirates of Penzance, and she would have been more than happy to play either a pirate or a girl. As Ludwig – and dyed his hair jet black to play it.
I was standing next to Stanley Tucci and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Am I in this group?Is this the group that didn’t get Tony? This is a good group to be in
So much of her acting growing up was just a dream, and her passion for Dickens wasn’t dyslexic and a big reader, but a kid fascinated by astronauts and all things 20th century America. It never took root. .
High hopes were set in Izzard’s life when she asked her agent to find someone who would hire her to produce an audiobook of Dickens’ novels — the same birthday 150 years apart.
Izzard’s Great Expectations audiobook is over 20 hours long and was released in 2018. She says at first it never occurred to her that once she stopped her live performance, it could remain in her own repertoire forever. Its running time is much more accessible than the book, about two hours including an intermission.
listen carefully Sometimes we speak to people’s memories and hear their underlying ambitions. This reminds me of the night Izzard lost Tony to Brian Dennehy and found himself with another acting nominee.
“I was standing next to Stanley Tucci and Philip Seymour Hoffman,” she says. “Did you think I was in this group? Is this the group that didn’t win a Tony? She whispers tastefully, ‘This is a good group.’
She knows that even after nearly 20 years, some people continue to categorize her as just a comedian and not an actor. I know you’ll get
“I think my dramatic work has landed in some really interesting places, where you don’t really know where you’re going.” – This article originally appeared in The New York Times
Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations will run at the Greenwich House Theater in New York until February 11, 2023.