William Shakespeare - The Bard
There is very good reason as to why, after hundreds of years actors and audiences alike remain drawn to the work of “The Bard”.
Contemporary text draws parallels to our modern day frames of reference of behavior, thoughts and actions. We recognize characters from how they interact with each other through a modern paradigm. Why then do acting schools all over the English speaking world still use the works of Shakespeare as part of their stable of training the contemporary actor?
The short answer is the way the text interacts with the voice, body and heart. The rhythms and cadence of heightened language provides an holistic mechanism for the actor to truly connect to text in an embodied way. Naturalistic frames of reference don’t cut it with the muscularity of Shakespeare’s verse and prose. These instead demand the actor’s complete instrument to realise the depth of this language – to bring to performance the imagery, colour and emotion, which sits purely within the text.
Actors in training spend hours working their voices to develop a clear and tension free conduit between actor, text and audience. Bringing life to the theatre through heightened text is one of the most effective ways to develop a robust and vital connection between actor and their body and voice. Every word and every thought is borne from the body. There is no allowance in the work of Shakespeare for the language to sit as a benign thought in sub-text, but rather it must, thought by thought – sound by sound – be originated and energized through the actor’s active body.
Regardless of your desire to perform the works of Shakespeare, every actor should embrace the lessons this text has to offer. A truly crafted and energised theatrical performance will always have its mettle tested in the heightened text.
Sometimes the old ways are still the best ways. When the actor IS a body, a voice and a heart – "such as we are made of, such we be"