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Actress Rigg Addresses History of Criticism

By Michael K. Mayo

Actress Diana Rigg told a packed Longfellow Hall crowd yesterday that she was a "brick mausoleum without flying buttresses"--at least according to a critic who saw her acting debut.

Rigg, an internationally recognized star of theater and film, who has acted in such classics as Laurence Olivier's King Lear and Bleak House, unfolded the history of theatrical criticism through anecdotes in her lecture, "No Turn Unstoned," which she delivered to a crowd which spilled into the corridors.

"Critics," said Rigg, "are at best lovers of theatre. At worst, they are absconded from the sports section into the arts."

A star of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Rigg turned the reviewers' quotations into text for her own acting. While reading the text, she constantly changed acting personalities.

When describing Ibsen's reaction to a viewing of his own play, Rigg imitated him by pulling her hair and pounding on the lectern, shouting "Oh God! Oh God!"

Quoting a critic's reaction to gender-blind casting in an 1895 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, Rigg leaned over the podium and bellowed, "The only reason the director made that choice is because it is wrong. There is no other reason."

Rigg more than once brought the audience to applause. Reading Dorothy Parker's review of A.A. Milne's "Give Me Yesterday," Rigg said, "He is given yesterday. I would have given him twenty to life."

Rigg spun eloquent puns throughout her lecture; describing the moratorium on acting when the dead Queen Elizabeth was to be waked for a month, Rigg said, "This is one instance where no stone, no turn."

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