A reflection on Shakespeare 

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Shakespeare concluded at the tail end of last term but with a new beginning on the horizon, we are reminded of the past in the form of assessment grades. For those of you who don’t know me that well, it is safe to say, I was apprehensive about opening up the feedback sheet from my tutor. This is because whenever I approach a classical text, Shakespeare in particularly, I never feel as though I’m able enough to live up to the role in a way deemed ‘correct’ by others.

Analysing and studying a Shakespeare text is difficult enough, as you’ll all probably know from past experience in English lessons throughout the years, but then try reiterating that in your acting performance. In my case – what I want to get across to the audience doesn’t always necessarily read that way when it comes down to it. But grow with it I will and over time this will get easier to achieve.

Perseverance is key.

And the key to shakespeare is commitment. In my experience I find you have to pay attention to every little detail that’s given to you in the text, from how it is written to how the language used.

Look for the clues within the text and try to make sense of it in your own trail of thought. It’s amazing just how much you can link to your own mind without you even realising.

However, the struggle is real. You will face problems and you will be depleted. But what you wont be is defeated.

You stick at it and you get rid of those blocks, whether it be mental blocks in terms of not understanding a phrase or vocal blocks in terms of not driving the phrase more with the correct muscularity and technique. It happens to the best of us and what’s really important with classical text is that you carry on and make sure it lands correctly. This comes with practice and you can be ensured that the more work you put in, the more benefits you will receive from it.

We had 4 weeks to work on this piece of work and at times it was a struggle but at other times it was exciting.

A few friends and fencers rehearsing for their Shakespeare assessments

I was paired with Hannah – my ‘fake’ Scottish friend who was actually born in Taunton, Somerset and later moved to a little village called Ballantrae on the west coast of Scotland. Her role was Phoebe in Shakespeare’s comedy ‘As you like it’. A young shepherdess who disdains the affections of Silvius. She falls in love with Ganymede, who is really Rosalind in disguise, but Rosalind tricks Phoebe into marrying Silvius.

I was her onstage lover Silvius. A young shepherd desperately in love with the proud and disdainful Phoebe. Following the conventions of the love poetry of the time, Silvius prostrates himself before a woman who refuses to return his affections. In the end, however, he wins the object of his desire. Not only did I succeed in winning her heart, I also succeeded in winning over the audiences hearts as noted in my feedback stating that I “presented such a loveable character, as was apparent by the audience’s response. This work had a lovely honesty, and naiivity, appropriate for the character.”

This involved me acting like a complete dork, blinded by love for a woman who doesn’t love me back. When she looked upon Ganymede, my character was compelled with jealousy and sadness. It was a fun role to get into and it was great to actually challenge myself and work on my West Country/Somerset accent. Once I got going it was great, however in those first few rehearsals the accent was diabolical. It was great working with Hannah, we had a laugh – a few too many on my behalf and I can now fully recite almost all of her lines.

In the end I actually came out quite surprised with my result. I thought I’d be lucky to scrape a C on this assignment but in the end I mastered a B. A grade up from my B- in last terms naturalism piece.

* strike your best victory pose *

Strangely enough acting has been the discipline that I’ve done the best in out of the three since being here at Trinity Laban. I say ‘strange’, because acting is the discipline I have the least confidence in but I guess my hard work has paid off. I’m very please with my progress not only in acting but also in my singing and dancing. In both I’ve progressed, improving from C’s the first time round to B-‘s this time round for my rendition of Kurt Weill’s Speak low – in which I created a scenario where there was two Hollywood male lovers in 1940s who were planning to run away together to be happy and be true to themselves instead of disguising their sexuality by dating film co-stars. My characters lover had just finished telling him, he couldn’t go through with it because he was scared of what could happen, which is when the song kicks in.

* heartbreaks and promises 😦 *

And of course for my dance assessment of Dollie Henry’s Jazz lesson/routine. I wasn’t as confident walking out of that assessment either. But it turned out well in the end I guess. And I now have more of an insight as to what I need to work on in the future.

The man, the myth, the legend…

Next, though, is The Dreaming. Our end of year show. More to follow on that, real soon.

If you’d like to read my earlier post on entering into Shakespeare, click here.

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1 comments on “A reflection on Shakespeare ”

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