Shakespeare for My Father

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Writer and star Lynn Redgrave.
The father and play subject, Sir Michael Redgrave.

Shakespeare for My Father is a one-woman play written[1] and performed by Lynn Redgrave. The play concerns Redgrave's relationship with her father, the imposing actor and family patriarch Sir Michael Redgrave. The play was produced and directed by Redgrave's then husband John Clark with lighting designed by Thomas Skelton. It was presented for a week at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara before touring the United States for a year in a production sponsored by CAMI.


Redgrave was a shy and somewhat sickly child who saw little of her busy father when growing up, and lived very much in a fantasy world of her own making. Her daydreams, because of watching her father perform, consisted largely of Shakespearean plays and characters. The "memory and message" play gave her an opportunity to slip into many of the characters, following her father's life through to his death from Parkinson's disease, and her ultimate forgiveness of his failure as a parent.


The play then opened on Broadway at the Helen Hayes Theatre,[2] where it played 274 performances in the 1993/1994 season, a record for a one-person show at the time, earned Redgrave a Best Actress Tony Award nomination (which she lost to Madeline Kahn), and went on to play in Canada, Melbourne, and at the Haymarket in London.

The play received significant critical acclaim. New York Magazine described Shakespeare for my Father as "a one-woman show by Lynn Redgrave in which she reminisces about life with her father, Sir Michael Redgrave, with full scenes from Shakespeare's works", and stated that Redgrave's "sense of humor makes it a pleasure and privilege to watch".[3] Patti Hartigan of The Boston Globe described the play as a "triumph",[4] and Lloyd Rose of The Washington Post said of Redgrave's performance, "Particularly when she is not speaking, her face can seem to hold an impossible number of emotions simultaneously, yet such fullness of feeling is mysteriously unreadable. At such moments you glance up to Sir Michael's picture, which dominates the stage, and find the same."[5] Variety described Redgrave's performance as "brilliant and extremely moving" and said, "At the end, Lynn gestures to that photograph, sharing her well-deserved applause with the man who could never acknowledge her talent. It’s a simple gesture that contains layers of emotional complexity and as such, an appropriate way to end this brutally honest but forgiveness-filled show."[6]


  1. ^ Redgrave, Lynn (2001). Shakespeare for My Father: A One-Woman Play in Two Acts. New York: Samuel French, Inc. p. 61. ISBN 978-0-573-62758-3. 
  2. ^ "Shakespeare for My Father". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2 November 2010. 
  3. ^ New York Magazine. New York Media, LLC. 25 October 1993. p. 123. ISSN 0028-7369. Retrieved 21 May 2013. 
  4. ^ "The daughter's tale: Redgrave triumphs in tribute". The Boston Globe, accessed via HighBeam Research. 22 March 1993. Retrieved 21 May 2013. 
  5. ^ "Lynn Redgrave, Taking Shakespeare to Heart". The Washington Post, accessed via HighBeam Research. 4 February 1994. Retrieved 21 May 2013. 
  6. ^ "Shakespeare for My Father". Variety. Retrieved 21 May 2013. 

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