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The snows of yesteryear (June 2014)

(June 01, 2014)

But, where are the snows of yesteryear? *

Boyd Clack (Photo- Ben Hussain)Boyd Clack (photo - Ben Hussain)

I was thinking about when as a boy in the fifties, me and Gwynne Evans used to play snipers up the Glyn mountain in the summer holidays. It struck me that playing is the same as acting, then I somehow remembered that I didn't think it was me, little Boyd, who was pretending to be a sniper, there was an intermediary. It was this 'other' me who was pretending. The other me was a strong and clever chap, with courage and an adventurous spirit, very different to the 'real' me, a frightened little creature, devoid of courage. I then related this to my profession as an actor and considered whether it was now the real me acting or another intermediary me, and if it could have any benefit in knowing the answer to this. I am still mulling. I once did a dress rehearsal of a play I was in pretending to be Anthony Quail acting the part and, though the director thought it 'odd', I felt a certain release through doing it. Is this an interesting thought or just demonic waffle designed to confuse and distract? Actors will talk about acting endlessly given, someone to talk about it with, as will people immersed in most other things. I love it.

I had done no acting prior to my audition for the Welsh College of Music and Drama, so when I had to find two audition pieces I went to the library and wrote them out. I was living in a squat, so I couldn't take books out. For a classical piece, I remembered there was a speech that started "Friends, Romans, countrymen … " and I asked the librarian where it was from - Julius Caesar, of course. I found it, wrote it out and took it home to rehearse for the audition the following Monday. I had never done a speech or anything before, so I just pounded it into my head going over and over it night and day, whilst standing in the kitchen of the squat. The night before the audition I was standing there going over it, it was three am., and when I lumbered to the line "He was my friend, faithful and just to me" (approx), I suddenly found myself in floods of tears. He was all these bad things yes, ambitious, vain, yes. But, he was faithful and just to me. A line so powerful and profound, a line so in tune with the reality of the human condition as to render one speechless. The place it appears in the context of the drama is one of ringing intensity. I had read Shakespeare in school, of course - Richard II for 'O' levels - and had recited bits to my old man in the front room. But I'd never been struck, as I was then in that kitchen, as to the enormous, universal genius of the man. The argument about Bacon or Marlowe being him is irrelevant.

Since then, having become a professional actor I have appeared in several excellent productions of his works - Macbeth at Leicester Haymarket; A Midsummer Night's Dream at St Steven's; Hamlet at the Young Vic; Corialanus with the Berkoff company in The West Yorkshire playhouse - and have come to the full realisation of the depth and scope of the bard's genius. He was not of this earth, he was a conduit for the angels. To explore every facet of the human condition with such profound insight and to have expressed it in such beautiful and innovative language, to have created such drama, such humour, such truth is incomparable in literature. Tolstoy, Dickens and other novelists haven't even reached his level. The nearest I have come to Shakespeare's work is that of Sophocles, whose Oedipus Rex and Oedipus at Colonus are works of similar greatness. But even he stands second to William Shakespeare. He has made the world a more interesting place. He has shown us the universality of human thought and emotion.

Boyd Clack, June 2014

* Mais, où sont les neiges d'antan? (But, where are the snows of yesteryear?) taken from Ballade des dames du temps jadis (Ballad of the Ladies of Times Past), a poem by François Villon (c. 1431–1463)

Also from Boyd Clack:

     The snows of yesteryear; March 2014

     The snows of yesteryear; December 2013

     The snows of yesteryear; September 2013
     Requiem; June 2013

     Mother to her son; March 2013 (with Kirsten Jones)

     The snows of yesteryear; December 2012

     The snows of yesteryear; September 2012

     The snows of yesteryear; June 2012

     Interview with Boyd Clack; September 2011

Boyd's new website is

Boyd Clack's latest album, Labourer of Love is available in Tesco and ASDA stores now, or online from Amazon - as a CD at £8.99, or mp3 at £5.99.


Boyd Clack - Labourer of LoveBoyd Clack's latest album, Labourer of Love


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