Apr 5, 2011
Had my first Shakespeare class earlier this week.
I had an aire of skepticism going in. Will the teacher be good? Will the other students be good? Do I need to be working on Shakespeare right now?
I realized that Hollywood was deep in my veins. And acting (and Shakespeare) was far from it.
But sitting down in the dark of the theater I was instantly recharged.
Here was none of the "Guest Star, Co-star" talk of a casting director workshop or the need to prove yourself to a director.
This was about the word of the Bard, and how you freely you embrace his characters with your instrument. I felt like I could have been sitting some rec room in the Catskills in New York.
Looking around, each intern had the Compete Works of William Shakespeare in tow and was encouraged to follow along. Their enthusiasm reminded me of my first days at the School at Steppenwolf, hungry and excited for the wondrous possibilities of the stage.
For the first class on Monday, we all did monologues.
I performed my Trinculo piece (featured in my last blog entry). Our brilliant teacher, a woman with a long history of performing Shakespeare was dead-on in her analysis. She saw clearly where each performer was doing well, and where they could expand and explore. But to do so you needed to be comfortable in the language. It was truly about exploration. She watched my Trinculo and encouraged me to simply find the moments, and that most importantly, Shakespeare is about making discoveries. Anytime you ask a question, you are really asking that question. What you already know is so much less interesting that what you are discovering in that moment.
I was reminded of when I learned this lesson, that learning things as the character in the moment was so much more effective than explaining something that you already knew to the audience.
I saw a great production of Take Me Out by the About Face Theater in Chicago some years ago. Tom Aulino, a New York actor who played Mason, had a monologue where discovers that baseball is the perfect metaphor for democracy in America. "All those threes or multiples of three..." I was transfixed by how, with each discovery, he got more excited. Opening the door to his emotions enabled the audience to share in his excitement.
Shakespeare's language can be daunting on first approach. But when it's all broken down and deeply felt, it's boundless.
Well that's all I have for today.
Gonna hit the tennis courts.