Words to Act By

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.

The Feast of the Epiphany

We at Shakespeare For Our Children wish you a very Happy New Year! In honor of Twelfth Night – the Feast of the Epiphany – we have rounded out our trilogy of scenes from the play of the same name (click here).

The scenes from Twelfth Night that we have published in the latest blog posts could stand alone, or be performed together to create a dramatic arc featuring four characters – the Duke, Viola, the Captain, and the Narrator. In past classes, we would often explore the evolution of characters from a particular play in this fashion: taking key moments and linking them together in order to give the students more breadth in their performances, but without the pressure of staging the play in its entirety.

However you decide to approach these materials, SFOC is always happy to offer advice or answer questions – please feel free to contact us by using the form in the yellow menu column at left.