Antony Sher: Wikis


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Antony Sher
Born 14 June 1949 (1949-06-14) (age 60)
Cape Town, South Africa
Occupation Actor, Writer, Director, Painter
Years active 1972–present

Sir Antony Sher, KBE (born 14 June 1949) is a South African-born actor, writer, theatre director and painter.


Early years

Sher was born into a Lithuanian Jewish family in Cape Town, South Africa, the son of Margery and Emmanuel Sher, who worked in business.[1] He grew up in the suburb of Sea Point (his cousin is Ronald Harwood), but he has worked mainly in the United Kingdom and is now a British citizen.

In 1968, after completing his compulsory military service, he left for London to audition at the Central School of Speech and Drama, but was unsuccessful. Instead, he studied at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art from 1969 to 1971. After training, and some early performances with the theatre group Gay Sweatshop, he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1982.


In the 1970s Sher was part of an astonishing group of young actors and writers working at the Liverpool Everyman[citation needed]. It consisted of the likes of writers Willy Russell and Alan Bleasdale and fellow actors Bernard Hill, Julie Walters, Trevor Eve and Jonathan Pryce. The work performed was highly regarded[citation needed] (two successes being John, Paul, George, Ringo … & Bert with Sher playing Ringo and Richard III with Sher as Buckingham). Sher summed up the work of the company with the phrase "Anarchy ruled." At the Royal Shakespeare Company he took the title role in Tartuffe and played the Fool in King Lear before his big breakthrough in 1984, when he played the title role in Shakespeare's Richard III. This won him the prestigious Laurence Olivier Award. Since then he has played the lead in many major productions, including Tamburlaine, Cyrano de Bergerac, Stanley and Macbeth. He also played Johnnie in Athol Fugard's Hello and Goodbye, Iago in Othello and Shylock in The Merchant of Venice.

In the 1996 film adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows, Sher starred as the Chief Weasel. In 1997, his portrayal of Disraeli in the film Mrs. Brown was well received, and he won his second Laurence Olivier Award for his performance as Stanley Spencer in Stanley. In television, he starred in the miniseries The History Man (1981) and The Jury (2002). In 2003 he played the central character in an adaptation of the J G Ballard short story The Enormous Space, filmed as Home and broadcast on BBC Four. Recent cinema credits include a cameo in the British comedy Three and Out released on 25 April 2008 and the role of Akiba in the acclaimed television play God on Trial.

Other work

Sher's books include the memoirs: Woza Shakespeare: Titus Andronicus in South Africa, with Gregory Doran (1997); Year of the King (1985); Beside Myself (2002); Characters (1990); and Primo Time (2005). He also wrote the novels Middlepost (1989), Cheap Lives (1995), The Indoor Boy (1996), and The Feast (1999).

Sher is also the author of several plays, including ID (2003) and Primo (2004). The latter was adapted for the screen in 2005. In 2008 The Giant, the first of his plays in which Sher did not feature, was performed at the Hampstead Theatre. The main characters are: Michelangelo at the time of his creation of David; Leonardo da Vinci; and Vito, their mutual apprentice. Sher's research for the story drew greatly upon Vasari's Lives.

In 2005 Sher directed Breakfast With Mugabe at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, which transferred to the Soho Theatre (in April 2006) and the Duchess Theatre (May 2006).

In 2007 he made a Channel 4 crime documentary, Murder Most Foul, about his native South Africa. The documentary examines the gruesome murders of young actor Brett Goldin and fashion designer Richard Bloom. Sher also travelled to the ghettoes where the murderers came from and interviewed the family and friends of Goldin and Bloom as well as those of other murder victims.[2]

Personal life

Despite his success, a shy and insecure Sher turned to cocaine as an antidote and by 1996 spent three weeks in rehabilitation. In 2005, he and his partner, the director Gregory Doran with whom he frequently collaborates professionally, became one of the first gay couples to form a civil partnership in Britain. In 2002, Sher and his partner became vegetarian.

Stage productions

  • 1972-74: Plays various roles at the Liverpool Everyman
  • 1974: Played Ringo Starr in Willy Russell's 'John Paul George Ringo and Bert' at Liverpool's Everyman Theatre where it opened in May 1974. The production transferred to the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London in August 1974.
  • 1982: Mike Leigh's Goosepimples in the West End
  • 1982: King Lear (as the Fool) at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (transferring to the Barbican in 1983)
  • 1984: Richard III with the RSC (transferred to the Barbican in 1985)
  • 1987: Shylock in The Merchant of Venice for the RSC
  • 1987: Henry Irving in Happy Birthday, Sir Larry on 31 May at the National Theatre (a Laurence Olivier 80th birthday tribute)
  • 1990: Singer for the RSC
  • 1991: The Trial and The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui for the National Theatre
  • 1994/5: Titus Andronicus at the Market Theatre, Johannesburg, then transferring to the National and a UK tour.
  • 1997: Stanley at the National Theatre
  • 1998/1999: The Winter's Tale, at the Barbican Theatre with the Royal Shakespeare Company
  • 1999: Macbeth with the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon
  • 2000/1: Macbeth and The Winter's Tale for the RSC
  • 2002: RSC's Jacobean season transfers to the West End
  • 2003: I.D. at the Almeida Theatre, London in September
  • 2004: Primo at the Cottesloe - National Theatre in October
  • 2007: Kean in Kean at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford (then transferring to the Apollo Theatre, London in May) in March
  • 2008: Prospero in The Tempest at the Baxter Theatre, Cape Town; Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon; and tour of Richmond, Leeds, Bath, Nottingham, Sheffield
  • 2010: Tomas Stockmann in An Enemy of the People at the Sheffield Crucible

Honours and awards


External links

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