“Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.” William Shakespeare : Measure for Measure.
It’s that time of year again. Yep you guessed it. Shakespeare assessments. The two words that makes half of the class leap for joy and the other half want to crawl into a cave and hide. I happen to be on the latter half’s side on this one. To me Shakespeare is like another world – a territory I cautiously tread on. This is because of the expectation of what a Shakespeare performance should be. Or rather what I feel it should be like. A thought I never live up to in my acting when putting it on its feet or rather that I think I don’t. There’s just something about it that puts me on edge. I can’t quite explain it. I feel as though some people are naturals to the art that is Shakespeare and I’m one of the kids that is trying my best to get up to that level.
Despite all this, I actually quite like the work of his that I’ve explored and seen for myself – Merchant of Venice, Macbeth, Othello, King Lear and The Winters Tale. Probably quite limited next to all you thespians out there but I’m hoping to expand my knowledge of his work in the future. His language and writing is brilliant and I would never want to argue otherwise but I think because of this, it gets me scared into fearing the unknown as it’s not a language I’m comfortable with or used to. I also get scared of how to treat the language and I’m always in doubt as to whether I’m actually treating it and applying the knowledge behind it correctly. But I guess the more I try, the more chances I will get to explore and find the right way naturally on my own making it much more real in every essence.
I think most people get nervous around Shakespeare’s work due to the fact you can’t downplay anything! You’ve got to pay attention to every single little detail and upward inflection in order to fit the requirements of his work and get the recognition you so desperately want. In today’s society we have a tendency to downward inflect and not use all of the language and text of the playwright as well as we should do and partly this can be due to the way it’s written, more so in more recent playwrights, but more so the way we choose to act as an actor. This is something I’ve picked up on in my singing lessons whilst training here at Trinity Laban. My singing teacher, Peter Knapp, always tells me off for not carrying my voice through to the end of the sentence. I tend to start off strong and let my voice weaken towards the end instead of driving the voice through more to the end. The lyrics get lost and this is similar to what not to do when approaching Shakespearian text. But I think knowing this now will help me rectify my mistakes when approaching the text in my lessons.
The one thing I love about exploring Shakespeare is the opportunity to delve into the theoretical side of the craft and this is something I enjoy the most. The theory behind the practice. Now, I guess you could say my main worry is the fear of going wrong or whatever my perception of wrong is. But having found out the play I will be focussing on – ‘As you like it’ I’m excited to see what happens and how to make this character work for me in my own way! Whilst I only have 4 weeks to do this on, give or take, I’m ready to jump in and conquer it. So with that, I bid thee farewell on this present day.