Pacino Speaks at Science Ctr.

'Talking Shakespeare' Raises Money for Repertory Theatre

Shakespeare may be dead, but he had a great deal to say last night when Al Pacino came to the Science Center to screen his new documentary, "Talking Shakespeare," to a crowd of more than 500.

Tickets prices for the event, which included a viewing of the half-completed film and a question-and-answer session with Pacino, the director and star, ranged from $50 to $250. Money raised will go to benefit Harvard's American Repertory Theatre.

Pacino, who received a standing ovation when he entered, said he conceived of the project when he was asked to do a movie of Richard III.

"I thought it had been done before and [wondered] why I should do it too. Then I thought how it could be done in a way that was different," he said. "[The movie] is a way of putting Shakespeare in a way which has some relevance."

In the film, which Pacino called, "a very rough assembly" of the final product, were scenes of Pacino and Winona Ryder acting in Richard III.

This was interlaced with interviews of people on the street as well as with some celebrities, including James Earl Jones, Laurence Olivier and Kevin Kline.

After the screening, Pacino asked the crowd for their reactions.

One audience member said to Pacino, "The roughness of [the movie] lends itself to the exploration you're doing."

Another man applauded the unpolished style of the movie, pointing to a particular interview where the subject spoke of the "feeling" in Shakespeare. He said that such "feeling," if used in education, could make a difference in the tendency toward violence in this nation's youth.

The man applauded the film for "searching for its own truth" instead of going with more "conventional truths."

"The truth was that [guy] on Seventh Avenue," he said.

Pacino said he felt his documentary could help people better learn and appreciate Shakespeare.

"You can't know Hamlet by seeing it once--there's so much there," he said. "That's part of what's behind this...you're not overcome and consumed by the plot of a production."

Pacino also talked about his early experience with the playwright's work, mentioning an occasion when he watched Marlon Brando performing Shakespeare.

"For a lot of us when we were younger, going and seeing a movie star doing it was very inspiring," he said.

Pacino said the film was "originally aimed at universities...but now [I wonder] if it can reach a wider audience." He said he hopes that it will eventually reach network television.

One member of the audience asked whether Pacino took his portrayal of Richard III from any former gangster role. "Where else?" Pacino responded.