Bruce Myers, actor with voice of a 'Stradivarius,' dies at 78

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Bruce Myers, actor with voice of a 'Stradivarius,' dies at 78
Bruce Myers portrays the Narrator in the play “The Inquisitor” at the New York Theater Workshop in New York, Oct. 23, 2008. Myers, a stalwart member of the group of actors who worked with the director Peter Brook, died of the new coronavirus in Paris on April 15, 2020. He was 78. Sara Krulwich/The New York Times.

by Ben Brantley

NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- It was actor Bruce Myers’ voice, above all, that people tended to remember. “His deep lion’s voice will resonate no more,” was how the French newspaper Le Monde opened its tribute to Myers, who died of the new coronavirus in Paris on April 15 at 78.

A favorite of the great international director Peter Brook, with whom he worked for nearly 50 years, Myers, with his elegant diction and reverberant tones, inspired comparisons to the famously mellifluous John Gielgud.

Writing about Myers’ performance in an evening of short works directed by Brook in 2011, Charles McNulty of the Los Angeles Times called him “a human Stradivarius,” with his “lush caress of vowels and precise choreography of consonants.”

Bruce Myers was born on April 12, 1942, in Radcliffe, a town north of Manchester, England, to Maurice and Mitzi Myers. His father was a solicitor, his mother a secretary in her husband’s law firm. He attended Trinity College, Dublin, and studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London.

Myers met Brook in about 1970 and became one of the most enduring members of the Paris-based International Center for Theater Research, founded that year by Brook and producer Micheline Rozan to stage productions but also to examine the purpose of theater. Myers toured the world, from cosmopolitan capitals to African villages, with many of its most celebrated productions.

These included such signature Brook pieces as the nine-hour “The Mahabharata,” based on the epic Hindu poem, in which he played the deities Ganesha and Krishna; “The Man Who…,” inspired by a book by neurologist Oliver Sacks; and “The Conference of the Birds,” based on the 12th-century Persian poem.

Myers notably appeared in Shakespeare roles for the company, including the misanthropic Alcibiades in “Timon of Athens,” the piece with which Brook opened the renovated Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris in 1974; and as Polonius in a streamlined adaptation of “Hamlet,” seen at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2001.

In addition to his stage work, Myers appeared in films, including Brook’s screen adaptations of “The Mahabharata” and “Hamlet,” and had supporting roles in more mainstream movie fare like “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” and “Henry and June.” He also worked as a director and conducted acting workshops throughout the world.

He is survived by his wife, Ivanka Polchenko, who confirmed the death; two daughters, Lea and Samia, from his previous marriage, to actress Corinne Jaber; and three siblings.

© 2020 The New York Times Company

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