For the last few days, I've been watching the Royal Shakespeare Company workshops led by John Barton, taped by the BBC around 1980. I've read the accompanying book before, but.... Oh. My. God. It's chilling and mesmerizing to watch the RSC actors work text. I've had just barely enough experience in the rehearsal room and in workshops--especially at the One-month Intensive at Shakespeare & Company--to understand what Barton and his actors are doing. They almost make it look easy.
The shows focusing on irony and coolness & passion should probably be reviewed at the beginning of rehearsals by all local companies putting up a Shakespeare play. It's revelatory stuff.
It's also funny to watch a young Ian McKellan showboating; hogging the camera; stealing the spotlight from John Barton himself. He's the know-it-all kid we all hate (I've been him more than once!) When I lived in Boston in the mid 1980s, I saw McKellan do his one man introduction to Shakespeare; clearly, he had begun to shape it as far back as the Barton workshop.