A February 23, 1939 interview with Welles discussing "Five Kings," a play that would later become the film "Chimes at Midnight."
"I guarantee that no dirty passages from Shakespeare have been omitted from my new production, 'Five Kings,'" Orsan Welles revealed in an interview yesterday. The famous young actor director explained that with the aid of the Kittredge notes he has attempted to reproduce Shakespeare in as near the original form as possible.
When questioned about university dramatics, Welles said, "It seems that a good proportion of the members of both the American and English stage have served their apprenticeship in college and school dramatics. As a matter of fact, college dramatics seem to be almost a stepping-stone to success in the theatre. As for myself, I guess I am the exception to the rule; for I have had only four years of schooling in my life."
The noted actor went on to discuss the difference between the stage and radio from a thespian's standpoint. Pointing out that broadcasting makes for a purer art of the theatre, he continued, "Whereas the reactions of an audience may make or break a show on the stage, only comedians must have an active audience on the air. My weekly broadcasts are given without onlookers, for then I can re-enact a drama for its own sake. If people want to applaud, let them do so in their homes."
Unlike his last year's production of "Julius Caesar," Mr. Welles is planning to include all the true Shakespearian costumes in his new play. He pointed out that "Five Kings" is a period play, while a close analogy can be drawn between the problems in "Julius Caesar" and present-day conditions.
Speaking of what many people term his radical changes in the theatre, Welles said, "We are not trying to change the theatre, but are merely trying to rid ourselves of those customs which are nothing more nor less than bad habits. Such frills as unnecessary scenery and lavish costumes are those evils we are combatting. In this way, we hope that we may bring the theatre back to its purest form."
The Harvard Crimson article can be found online at http://www.thecrimson.com/article/1939/2/23/orson-welles-says-five-kings-is/