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2010
SUNDAY, JUNE 13, 2010
Live at Radio City Music Hall

A Touch of the Poet: Mark Rylance's Bizarre Approach to Tony Acceptance Speeches

A Touch of the Poet: Mark Rylance's Bizarre Approach to Tony Acceptance Speeches
Mark Rylance
'If you’re in the woods, the back country, someplace far from any human habitation, it is a good idea to wear orange and carry a gun.'

Over the years we’ve heard every kind of acceptance speech under the sun: impassioned (paging Ms. Alice Ripley), multiplied (original Billy Elliots Trent Kowalik, David Alvarez and Kiril Kulish, in stereo), teary (Karen Olivo), sardonic (Tracy Letts) and even rapped (thank you, Lin-Manuel Miranda). However, nothing could prepare us for the understated absurdity presented by 2008 Best Actor in a Play winner Mark Rylance, whose comedic turn in the acclaimed revival of Boeing-Boeing gave him the opportunity to step to the Tony Awards mic and recite what seemed like, at the time, the most artful stream of gibberish spouted onstage since the original run of Waiting for Godot. “If you’re in the woods, the back country, someplace far from any human habitation, it is a good idea to wear orange and carry a gun,” he advised in place of thanking mom…or God…or his agent…or anyone. Viewers weren’t bearing witness to an epic temporal lobe breakdown, however—Rylance simply chose to recite poet Louis Jenkins’ obscure prose piece “Back Country” in place of a traditional speech. Later, he explained, simply, “I tried one of [Jenkins’ poems] out at the Drama Desk Awards, and it went down well.” When watching this clip, keep your eyes peeled for Rylance’s co-star, fellow nominee Mary McCormack, whose expression watching her leading man turn the Tonys into a hipster coffee shop poetry reading is priceless.