Archive | Speaking Shakespeare

Tips on speaking Shakespeare’s language effectively. Not just for actors!

In Mother Country Text Acts You!

Have you ever heard anyone say that when acting Shakespeare, the text acts you, the text does the work for you, or something along those lines? I’m willing to bet you have. But what does it mean that the text acts you? How does it do that? Doesn’t one normally act the text? If the […]

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Vivacious Verse

Romeo and Juliet opens with a prologue that introduces the story that will be the “two hours traffic” on the stage. Only two hours? Isn’t all Shakespeare 4 hours long uncut? I tried to help dispel this myth with Hamlet, and those who think it’s a 5 hour play, as an example. It’s not 5 […]

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Shakespeare’s Sonicky Language

Humorist and language expert Roy Blount Jr talks about the concept of “sonicky” words in his new book, Alphabet Juice. “Sonicky” is a term he uses to describe language that sounds like what it is. Not onomatopoeia exactly (whoosh/boom/splat), but thing of the words “oak” and “willow.” There’s a reason the tall, thick, strong tree […]

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Go Make You Ready

Hamlet’s advice to the players is at an end, but your work is just beginning. I’d just like to wrap up the wealth of information covered in this speech. There’s no end to the advice that can be given on acting Shakespeare, but everything you really need to know is in this text. The rest […]

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O Reform it Altogether

And now the advice to the players is coming to an end… Now this overdone, or come tardy off, though it makes the unskillful laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve; the censure of which one must in your allowance o’erweigh a whole theatre of others. Overdoing moments might make a few people laugh, but […]

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Suit the Action to the Word

Hamlet’s Advice to the Players continues! There’s a lot he has to say about acting. After all, he wants the lines he wrote in The Mousetrap acted well. Be not too tame neither, but let your own discretion be your tutor. You must find a delicate balance between the energy you give to the speech […]

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Do not saw the air too much

Hamlet’s advice to the players continued… Nor do not saw the air too much with your hand thus, but use all gently; I think you know what this is about. Have you ever seen an actor (or someone in your life) who repeatedly uses the same gesture? It gets old pretty fast. We all have […]

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Trippingly On The Tongue

And now the first in the series of posts expounding Hamlet’s Advice to the Players. Let’s begin at the beginning. Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounc’d it to you, trippingly on the tongue. With a couple couples of alliteration Hamlet speaks volumes. “Speak the speech … trippingly on the tongue.” Chapters of […]

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Hamlet’s Advice to the Players

In the endless mess of schools, classes, books, websites, and video learning how to act/speak well (especially with Shakespeare’s text) can be daunting, confusing, and just downright hard. How does Ian McKellen do what he does best? What makes Patrick Stewart so easy to listen to? Or Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, Derek Jacobi? There are […]

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Not Full of Sound and Fury

On monday night I saw a solo performance night (followed by a tribute to) a wonderful local actor who is a genius actor. Especially when it comes to acting Shakespeare. He has half a century of experience acting and teaching Shakespeare and there’s really no one better. There’s something incredibly humbling yet superbly inspiring in […]

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