Edinburgh Festival 2012 features two Adolf Hitler-related shows
- Edinburgh Festival Guide
- 11 July 2012
This article is from 2012.
Two actors on how they tackle playing the infamous tyrant
The first thing I need to do is clear my head of the depth of Hitler’s infamy. I am using him and his image for a distinct purpose and I must focus on my reasons for playing him. I have to get the physicality right so that he seems as real as possible; he cannot merely be the two-dimensional devil of myth. He has to also have sufficient charm to have persuaded a nation to follow him. I have to convince the audience that I believe what I am saying no matter how evil it might be. Even after playing the part for 12 years, I still study footage of his speeches to copy the gestures and stance. And it still takes me by surprise at the change I feel in myself once the costume, wig and moustache are on.
I’ve been subjected to years of exposure to Hitler, via books, news broadcasts and school history lessons. All this seeped into my subconscious so as I began to write my show, the great dictator seemed to burst forth with surprising ease, fully formed, man and monster combined. The mental, spiritual and emotional preparation was complete in the written text. The actual act of performing for 80 minutes requires a good degree of physical and vocal preparation beforehand, so you feel on top of things. This is a quiet period of concentration for an hour or so, but never thinking, ‘oh my goodness, what an awfully wicked man I’m about to portray.’ That just takes care of itself.