In his day, William Shakespeare was considered “a total man of the theatre.” Along with his position as the legendary playwright, it is important to keep in mind that he was also an accomplished and acclaimed actor. At the very time that he was creating his masterpieces for the ages, he was performing in the works of other Elizabethan playwrights who are now long forgotten.
Appropriately, then, the Bard offers sage advice to all actors in Hamlet’s famous speech to the players (Act III, Scene 2). These are indeed words to act by, reminding us to “suit the action to the word, the word to the action.” Indeed, children should be taught to speak their dialogue naturally, without affectation, interpreting the author’s work for the audience as if they were speaking to a friend. Remind the children that actors use their complete selves to tell the playwright’s story: spirit and intelligence to animate their characters; voices that shade and color the dialogue to heighten its impact; and bodies that move confidently on the stage. There is no more powerful or effective instrument than the total commitment of the actor to the play – for in each of us, we have it all.