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Stratford actor Seana McKenna reads in bed at her home in Harrington, Ontario. (GEOFF ROBINS FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)
Stratford actor Seana McKenna reads in bed at her home in Harrington, Ontario. (GEOFF ROBINS FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

My Books, My Place

Seana McKenna on guilt-free reading Add to ...

Seana McKenna is a Canadian actor currently in her 20th season with the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. This season, she is playing the title character in Richard III and Anne Hathaway in the one-woman show Shakespeare’s Will .

I like to read in bed, in the morning, before the day has realized I am awake and made its claim on me: hot coffee on the bedside table, husband Miles on his side of the bed reading or out in the garden, son Cal enjoying the summer sleep-in that only a 13-year-old can, a cat or two popping in for a pet. This is my self-declared holiday.

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Actors often feel guilty reading anything that cannot be deemed “research” for current projects, and so I am lucky to find myself indulging in a fat-free read of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, a Christmas present from my husband.

It examines a period of British history sandwiched between the time frames of the two plays I am presently appearing in, Richard III and Vern Thiessen’s Shakespeare’s Will. The worlds of Henry VIII, Anne Hathaway and Richard III are strikingly similar, full of Machiavellian ambition, court intrigue, domestic drama and an England in enormous flux.

Playing two historical figures in three-dimensional fiction, I find it especially fascinating to see how other writers juggle fact and fantasy until you are not sure which is which. I enjoy my morning read, again reminded that “spin” is not a 21st-century word, or concept.

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