Quotes About Spoken Word

  • Glyn Johns on Laurence Olivier

    He was to read the most important and emotive speech in the whole piece—[Lord] Nelson's letter to Lady Hamilton the night before he died at the Battle of Trafalgar. His transformation into character was extraordinary to watch. Those of us present being stunned into silence by the end of the one and only take. Later that morning he was joined by a group of young actors who had to play a scene with him. It was quite obvious from the start that they were all in awe of him, but within minutes he had them completely at ease in his presence. A true professional. His personal problems left at the door, his concern for others and the job at hand taking precedence.

    Sound Man

    This quote appears in Glyn Johns' autobiography, Sound Man, when he's describing the first session he got to run as an engineer. Here's Glyn setting the scene: “In 1960 I got my first opportunity to actually sit at the console as an engineer. I was the assistant on the recording of a Son et Lumière production about the Battle of Trafalgar staged on Lord Nelson's ship the Victory in Portsmouth Harbour. Lord Nelson was played by Sir Laurence Olivier, who wanted to work on a Saturday, and the engineer, Ray Prickett, refused to work on weekends, so I was given the job. I was petrified. Fortunately, the director, Peter Wood, was a charming and kind man and did his best to put me at ease, knowing that this was my first session in charge. Just the idea of being in the presence of the great man was bad enough. It only involved one microphone, so not a lot could go wrong. Pathetic really. Unfortunately, the news of Olivier's intention to divorce Vivien Leigh and marry Joan Plowright had broken in the press that morning. So when he burst out of the elevator on the third floor and into studio B with a flurry of agitated entourage, there was steam coming out of every orifice.”

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