Passed/Failed Corin Redgrave

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The Independent Online
Corin Redgrave, 59, is an actor

and author of `Michael Redgrave

My Father'. He is currently

appearing with his wife, Kika

Markham, in Noel Coward's `Song

at Twilight' at the King's Head,

Islington - and in `De Profundis',

which opens tonight at the

Birmingham Repertory Theatre.

His sisters are the actresses

Vanessa and Lynn Redgrave

Freeze school: My very first school was a classroom in Westminster School. It was evacuated during the War to Buckenhill, a very large, old farmhouse in Herefordshire. We had been evacuated to Bromyard, three miles away, and I remember crying with the cold as we walked that long distance. I was three or four years old and must have been there for a year. There were about 20 of us in the class, which included Vanessa, but not Lynn, who was a baby.

St Vicar's: We went back to London in 1944 but I don't think I went to school until a year after the war, when I was six and went to a state primary school with Vanessa, for one term. This was difficult; my father was now a well-known film star and we were treated as oddities. Then, for a year, Miss Glascott came to teach eight or nine of us, including Vanessa, Matthew Guinness [Alec Guinness's son] and the vicar's three sons, in the vicarage. This was an ideal form of school and teaching.

St Satan's: In the summer of 1948 I arrived at Wells House in the Malvern Hills. The headmaster was the Devil incarnate. He had a definite penchant for corporal punishment. He would make these terrible, swooping descents and announce someone had done something awful. He encouraged boys to be informers and vigilantes. It gave me an ambivalent feeling about that beautiful countryside - a sense of loss. If you lay in the dormitory thinking of home, you'd hear a steam engine going to Paddington and think of all the happy people on that train.

Babble rouser: After four terms I went to a day school, Eaton College (it was near Eaton Square at the time) and stayed until I was 13. It wasn't as good from the point of view of teaching but it was a nice place to be. Then I went to Westminster School. There were two or three outstanding teachers. Stephen Lushington taught English and directed the school play. He had acted with my mother [the actress Rachel Kempson] at Oxford. I was taught classics by Theodore Zinn, a wonderful teacher. His classes were a babble of argument; occasionally, when it went too far, he would cry, which would subdue everyone. I never considered that I would do more than get a place at university but Theodore said: "No, you underestimate yourself." That can make all the difference to a child. I went into the classics and got a scholarship to King's [Cambridge].

Sabre rattling: I read English but did very badly in Prelims because I hadn't prepared at all. I did prepare for my finals and got a first. I had started fencing at Westminster with the greatest of all sabre-teachers, Bela Imregi, and I fenced for Cambridge. I was good enough to beat anyone in England - but not all the time. I had to make a choice between acting and fencing; and I chose acting.

Son, you were wonderful: My father came up to see me in only one production, when I played Horner in The Country Wife. I was probably in a blind panic, but he said I'd taught him a lot.

Interview by

Jonathan Sale

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