With these words from Act 2, Scene 7 of As You Like It, the character of Jacques begins a soliloquy that reminds his audience of the parallels between human life and theatrical enterprise: “One man in his time plays many parts,” moving from birth to old age.
What we love about this speech – aside from its wisdom and humor! – is the fact that it captures several different characters. From the whining schoolboy (mentioned in our earlier post) to the swooning romantic, and more besides, there are indeed “many parts” for a young actor to play in a single monologue. Have a look at it here.
What’s even better is the fact that you can distribute the speech to several children who are perhaps too shy to tackle a soliloquy on their own. Have each child take a section and act out their character(s) within the monologue, assuming in turns the various roles Shakespeare cites. Also fun is to rehearse through improvisation: establish a scenario – a picnic at a park, or a birthday party – and have the children engage with each other in the attitude of their given part. (For more about improv, check out this resource.)