charlotte's shakespeare tips: part one
Updated: Apr 13
During Lockdown Part 2 (the one where I lose myself growing pumpkins in Animal Crossing), I have had the chance to help out some friends with audition monologues. Ah, yes! That weird thing where you talk to an imaginary acting partner. Now, I love Shakespeare and am no stranger to invisible friends, so I thought I might write a blog combining the two and hopefully unstick anyone struggling with this feat. Whether you are auditioning for drama schools or simply putting on a performance for your four walls, I hope something below will help. I have put together some things I do to help me fully realise my imaginary friend and get me out of my head and into my body with Shakespeare.
So, How Do I Start?
Stand up and walk the text.
The temptation with Shakespeare is to sit and agonise for hours over the meaning, but this can get you stuck in your head. Yes, you need to know the meaning behind what you are saying, but you will be surprised by how much you already know and what can sink in when you get up and move.
The first thing I do with a new Shakespeare is walk the punctuation. Walk in a straight line until you hit that full stop, exclamation, question mark etc. Then quickly change direction and say the next line going a different way, in another straight line. For any commas, do a little skip or click with your hand.
The words at the end of the verse line are very important in Shakespeare. Putting stress on that word helps drive the piece on and helps with clarity. There’s an exercise you can do to help you remember where the stress lands and lift the words: standing still, throw an imaginary (or real) ball into the air as you get to the last word of the verse line. It’s simple but very effective.
When you get the text in your body like this, it starts to make sense a lot quicker and you will naturally start to figure out the pace of the piece. After doing this a few times, I will then go back and do a bit of sitting, and look up any words or phrases that I am getting caught on (I find the Arden Shakespeare very useful for any detective work needed).
Try that to start and I will be back next Wednesday with some next steps and helpful tricks!