There are two very different perceptions of William Shakespeare. One is perpetuated by the academic community, and it portrays Shakespeare as a literary giant, a demi-god, an unrivaled master of English. The other perception is much simpler, and it is perpetuated by actors who perform his works.
William Shakespeare was simply an actor who wrote plays and was a hugely popular entertainer. He was held in disdain by the scholars of his age, and yet he broke all box office records in his time. Four centuries later he remains the most popular playwright the world has ever known.
Not a moment passes when a Shakespearean play is not being performed at some point in the world, and it is no accident that these plays were written by an actor. With all due respect for the man’s literary genius, our program concentrates on Shakespeare the entertainer and the practical application of performance.
Our mission is to provide a quality product at a reasonable price for our players, and thus we have decided to limit each group to 10 participants. Candidates will be reviewed on an individual basis and will be chosen according to what can best serve each group of 10 players for each workshop.
Asking why an actor should learn to perform Shakespeare is like asking why a marathon runner should learn how to walk. So many people are intimidated by Shakespeare and think that it is out of reach. They mistakenly think that they should work on a “method” acting technique before approaching Shakespeare. In reality, just the opposite is true. If you work on Shakespeare first, it provides basic skills that are essential for all other venues of acting. No time spent with Shakespeare is ever wasted.
When directors see an actor who is able to interpret Shakespeare, they can be confident that the actor will be able to interpret any other text. While you may explore your own feelings as you study acting, in the end it is the feelings of the audience that matter most. The language of Shakespeare allows an actor to truly open up, both in emotion and articulation. It is much easier to get an actor to pull back and tone down his or her acting than it is to get an actor to do more. The performance of Shakespeare provides a perfect vehicle for bringing out the actor in a way that will deliver the emotion to the audience.
This type of performance is not just beneficial to the aspiring actor. The skills you acquire will give you the confidence necessary for any venue of public speaking or presentation in front of an audience. This capability will help you in any future endeavors, regardless of the career you eventually pursue.
The study of Shakespeare is a life-long process. A few short hours cannot cover all that will be required in times to come. However, it is quite possible that these hours can inspire and provide a few keys to what can truly become a “magical realm.” The words are wise, keen, and beautiful, and they are the foundation of our modern English language. Any time you spend working on Shakespeare will increase your confidence as a performer. Ultimately, if you allow it, the works of Shakespeare will enrich your soul.
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