Performing the work of William Shakespeare can be daunting to new actors. Author Herb Parker posits that his work is played easier if actors think of the plays as happening out of outrageous situations, and remember just how non-realistic and presentational Shakespeare’s plays were meant to be performed. The plays are driven by language and the spoken word, and the themes and plots are absolutely out of the ordinary and fantastic—the very definition of outrageous. With exercises, improvisations, and coaching points, Acting Shakespeare is Outrageous! helps actors use the words Shakespeare wrote as a tool to perform him, and to create exciting and moving performances.
Table of Contents
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PROLOGUE: WHAT YOU MOST AFFECT
Let the Earth O’erflow
So What Do I Mean, Really, by ‘Outrageous’?
And What Do I Mean ‘Caused by Love’?
How ‘Outrageous’ Applies to Playing Shakespeare
ACT 1: SHAKSPER YOUR BFF
Who He was, What he Did and What that Means for Us Actors
The Elizabethan Stage
The Actor’s Task
All Women’s Roles Played by Boys
Scrolls, No Scripts!
Shaksper’s "Outrageous" Plays
Summary: What This Means for Your Acting
ACT 2: HOLDING UP MIRRORS
Shakespeare as a Cold Read
Lesson 1: Doing
Exercise 1: Howl
Exercise 2: Sing
Exercise 3: Don’t Think About It
Exercise 4: Hop, Kneel Crawl and Hug!
Exercise 5: Wrestle, Kick, Speak!
Exercise 6: You Are Being Chased
Exercise 7: Every Line is a New Discovery
Exercise 8: Become the Words: The Queen Mab Speech
Variation: Let the Class Choose What You Become
Lesson 2: Verse
Exercise 9: Write it in Prose
Exercise 10: Tear the Words!
Exercise 11: Hang Your Verse
Exercise 12: Verb to Verb
Lesson 3: Sound
Exercise 13: Gobbledygook
Exercise 14: Duh, Hell-o, F—K!
Lesson 4: Emotion
Exercise 15: In-Motion, Not E-Motion
Exercise 16: My Cat is Dead
Exercise 17: The Last Line 6 Times
Exercise 18: Grow From the Ground Up
Exercise 19: Roll on the Floor
Exercise 20: Dueling Shakespeare
ACT 3: WORDS, WORDS, WORDS!
Thou and You
The Poetry That Doesn’t Rhyme
The Joys of Iambic Pentameter
A Feminine Ending
More Tools from Shakespeare’s Arsenal
Scansion in Action
Rhymed Verse and Couplets: A Poet and Do Know It
Exercise 21: Write a Sonnet
Prose: How We Talk
Dag-nabbit! Shakespeare’s Made-Up Words
ACT 4: DIVERS SCHEDULES:
A FEW ITEMS PICKED UP WATCHING ACTORS DO SHAKESPEARE
Item 1: There is No Subtext in Shakespeare
Item 2: There is Never a ‘Fourth Wall’
Item 3: Size is About More than Being Big and Loud
Item 4: Play What the Scene is DOING—Not Just What the Words Mean
Item 5: Antithesis is Fighting for an Answer by Comparing Opposites
Exercise 22: Play the Antithesis
Item 6: Don’t Report, Make a Discovery!
Item 7: Leave Your Hands ALONE
Item 8: Speak a Soliloquy as if Your Life Depended upon it—Because it Does
Item 9: Pretty Speeches are About Blood and Guts
Item 10: Paint the Picture!
Exercise 23: A Pig in Slop—with the Words
Item 11: Shakespeare is Too Big for Film
Item 12: All Shakespearean Characters are Philosophers, and Poets
"A very ribbon in the cap of youth."
GLOSSARY—A Listing of Common Shakespeare Terminology
PRACTICE SPEECHES for Men and Women
BIBLIOGRAPHY AND RECOMMENDED READING
Herb Parker is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication and Performance, Theatre and Dance, with East Tennessee State University. Directing credits at ETSU include Othello, Race, The Trojan Women, Six Characters in Search of an Author (KCACTF "Excellence in Directing" Meritorious Achievement Award), Caesar 2012 (his adaptation of Julius Caesar), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, As You Like It, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (KCACTF "Excellence in Directing" Meritorious Achievement Award) and Little Shop of Horrors (also a KCACTF "Excellence in Directing" Meritorious Achievement Award recipient). Professor Parker is a long-time member of the Actors Equity Association. He is the author of A Monologue is an Outrageous Situation! How to Survive the 60-Second Audition, published by Focal Press in 2016.