I can't say I know much about Dr. Battis, but his resume is impressive to say the least and I felt that his contributions to our beloved playwright deserved a little recognition. Dr. Battis died this past weekend due to complications from bladder cancer.
Read the whole obituary to get the full span of this man's achievements - I'll list only a few here:
- He played more than 90 characters in Shakespearean plays and, he often noted, had only one onstage kiss in his life.
- He worked at Baltimore’s Centerstage before moving in 1984 to Washington, where he appeared in almost 70 productions of the Shakespeare Theatre. He received a Helen Hayes Award for his lifetime contributions to Washington theater in 2002.
- Dr. Battis acted in all but one of Shakespeare’s 37 plays — the lone exception was “Cymbeline” — and gave his final performance as Marcade in a 2006 production of “Love’s Labour’s Lost” in the Bard’s home town of Stratford-upon-Avon in England
- Battis’s Falstaff, one critic wrote, “was all that Shakespeare wrote the character to be: braggart, glutton, coward, liar, obscene buffoon, yet blessed with an indomitable spirit and an ability to laugh at himself.”
- After a 1967 performance in Ohio, the Cleveland Plain Dealer proclaimed Dr. Battis’s interpretation “the best Lear of our generation.”
Flights of angels, Dr. Battis. RIP.