The late John Hurt was one of the most celebrated and versatile actors of his generation. With a career that spanned over four decades on stage as well as screen, the British-born Hurt leaves a legacy of diverse and identifiable roles that speak to new generations. A character actor of rare an immense talent, Hurt brought his range of abilities to Dublin’s Gate Theatre on numerous occasions. The Gate Theatre Digital Archive, now available for research at the Hardiman Library, NUI Galway, documents Hurt’s performances on the Gate stage.
Hurt’s career at the Gate began in 1992 with a role of “Count Mushroom” in Brian Friel’s play The London Vertigo. Towards the end of the 1990s, Hurt would continue his association with the Gate Theatre and its director Michael Colgan through the work of Samuel Beckett. Hurt would play the eponymous role in Krapp’s Last Tape, written by Samuel Beckett and directed by Robin Lefévre at the Barbican Centre, London, as part of the Gate Beckett Festival. Hurt would revive the role at London’s Ambassador Theatre in a Gate production in January 2000, before finally bringing the role to Dublin’s Gate stage in September 2001, to great critical acclaim.
|John Hurt in Gate production at Gielgud Theatre, London|
Hurt would return to the Gate to again take the lead in a play by another major playwright long associated with the Gate – Brian Friel. Hurt would play Andrey Prozorov alongside Penelope Wilton as Sonya Screbriakova, in Friel’s Afterplayas part of “Two Plays After”, which explored much of Friel’s interest in the plays and characters of Russian playwright Anton Chekhov.
Hurt take to the Gate stage on two other occasions, in April 2006 and in November 2011, on both occasions to revisit what is now perhaps the definitive performance of Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape, directed by Michael Colgan.
The Gate Digital Archive contains a digitised video recording of Hurt in the role of Krapp at the Gate in April 2006, which is one of the most valuable records of Hurt’s stage career. It also includes nearly two hundred photographs, over one thousand press cuttings, stage management files, lighting designs, vast amounts of programmes, posters and other records from Hurt’s time at the Gate. In a fitting twist, as Hurt is so associated with the role of Krapp, an ageing man who listens to tapes of his younger voice recorded from decades previously, so too is Hurt’s infamous voice, deeply expressive face and his unique acting style now also preserved for future generations.
Read more on the Gate Theatre Digital Archive at NUI Galway.