At the Old Vic New Voices US/UK Exchange launch on 23 February, Jeremy Irons read from TS Eliot’s Four Quartets .
Many thanks to Corinne Furness, who attended the launch, for this account of the event:
“Jeremy Irons was introduced at the event as representing the T S Eliot foundation (who are sponsoring the exchange) who had asked him to read some of Eliot’s work. He was clean shaven and had his trousers tucked into a pair of boots!
Before he did the reading he told a story about going to New York for the first time: He was filming on a boat on the way back from New York but it meant he had a few days in New York. He was walking down Madison Avenue and asked someone where Fifth Avenue was – the man replied ‘what do you think I am – an information bureau?’ which he thought was a brilliant line (Only Jeremy got the punch line of that wrong to start with saying ‘what do you think I am – an employment agency?’ and then joked that he was thinking ahead of himself). He then said he went into a shop and there was a man talking as he bought a cigar and all that Jeremy could think was ‘everyone here talks like they’re in a movie’ and, subsequently, that for a long time whenever he had to do an American accent he thought he sounded like he was in a movie and that there was something disingenuous about it.
He then went on to say that he’d read Eliot’s poetry before with Eliot’s widow Valerie and that he ‘must have done something right’ as they seemed to like it. He then read from the first section of Four Quartets (‘Burnt Norton’, part 3) before saying that he had to leave to go rehearse!”
According to the Old Vic New Voices twitter feed, over 400 people were in attendance at the launch.