WOTD: Shog

This is definitely a word I’m going to start using on a day to day basis where applicable. With all these words of the day that I’m trying to use, one must imagine a conversation with me to be rather colorful. Don’t be disappointed if I prove otherwise.

shog (v.) IPA Pronunciation: shog
go away, leave, be gone

NYM
Shall we shog?
- Henry V (II.iii)

Also shog off. Now’s your time to shog and use it in a conversation. You will sound so wordly-wise.

Say What?

Shakespeare is hard enough to understand with the hard grammatical constructions, and difficult vocabulary… so why is it that so many people make it harder for the listener to understand?

I’m sure no one would consciously torture an audience like that but it happens. How? Lack of good diction. In today’s film and tv entertainment dominated society we see actors whispering, mumbling, and speaking in a very conversational fashion that is easily picked up by large microphones and blasted back to the audience on a great big sound system. Even now with microphones being used in theatre, projection isn’t an issue for many. Still, actors seem to get the idea that not all their consonants need to be there. When talking a modern text it’s easier to get away with. But when you’re speaking classical drama – enunciation becomes much more important.

As I mentioned before, there’s enough in the listener’s ear that hinders their understanding. Having good diction is the foundation to telling the story effectively. The audience won’t understand the unfamiliar words some of the time, but you need to make sure they understand the familiar words too!

Shakespeare throws in a lot of lines that are hard to say, or some that make you move your mouth more than you’re used to (ie: Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths… – Richard III, I.i OR The Duke of Exeter is as magnanimous as Agamemnon – Henry V, III.vi), so be sure to practice speaking! It sounds kind of odd to think that you should practice speaking… it’s something you do every day right? Well, I doubt you have perfect diction. Go on and work on your articulatory ability!

WOTD: Moiety

Here’s another word that’s fun to say. It tumbles out of the mouth like a barrel from a very small water fall. Maybe not, but it’s a nice visual.

moiety (n.) IPA Pronunciation: Moiety
portion, part, half

HOTSPUR
Methinks my moiety, north from Burton here,
In quantity equals not one of yours:
- Henry IV, Part 1 (III.i)

This is a word that Shakespeare uses quite a few times, so it’s a good one to know. Sometimes the meaning is implied (as in the above quote), but often it’s not as obvious. That’s why it helps to do your homework!

Stick Figure Hamlet

I came across this link a while back, but I didn’t have a super popular blog that I could share it on. I still don’t have a super popular blog, but I have a blog nonetheless. That being said, check this out!

StickFigureHamlet.com

What more can I say? It’s a Hamlet comic with stick figures. It’s actually pretty entertaining, check it out while you’re bored.

I love to see people having fun with Shakespeare. This is a great production of Hamlet. Simple, entertaining, and something that hasn’t really been seen before. Hurrah!

Review: A Shakespearean Actor Prepares

by Adrian Brine and Michael York.

It’s a good habit to be wary of books written by actors (especially moderately well known ones), often they use personal experience as examples and it can detract from the educational information at hand. This is not the case with this book. A Shakespearean Actor Prepares is a great guide for actors, directors, and other Bard lovers for learning to play Shakespeare.

I came across this book in a library (you know, those places where they let you check out books) one day and sat down to see if it would be any good. After getting half way through the foreword I wasn’t too excited. I was getting bored with information about the authors and their relationship, experience, and random other gobs of info I didn’t really want to know. Fearing I would be in for more pain – I cut to the chase, skipping the rest of the foreword and dived into the book. Things took a turn for the better, the much better.

Brine and York go on to guide the reader smoothly and painlessly into the inner workings of Shakespearean text, the relation of the form and content, painting pictures with your words, creating a character supported by the text, and much more.

What fascinated me more than anything is the excellent final chapter: Shakespeare and Stanislavski. One would expect some mention of the famous Russian in a book that is similar to the title of one of his own. This chapter expounds upon the topic of using Method acting in Shakespeare. It effectively asks and answers the question “Is ‘the method’ relevant to acting Shakespeare?” The answer: …You’ll have to read the book!

This book has a lot of great information in it and I would recommend it to anyone who loves shakespeare and wants to be able to speak (and act) his words with distinction. Basic knowledge of Shakespeare is a big help with a book like this, I don’t think this is a great “intro to Shakespeare” text, but it definitely covers things that are essential before you get too far along in your Shakespeare careers. A Shakespearean Actor should prepare with reading this book, which merits this work a 4 on the Bardmeter scale.

A Shakespearean Actor Prepares

WOTD: Rivage

I’ve been having a great time using past words of the day in my daily speech, have you? Now’s a great time to start using new words! I have tried to work “yerk” into my conversations whenever possible. Shakespeare would be so proud! Here’s another to add to your mental index. Have at it, verbivores!

rivage (n.) IPA Pronunciation: rivage
a bank, shore, coast

CHORUS
… O, do but think
You stand upon the rivage and behold
A city on th’ inconstant billows dancing;
- Henry V (III.prologue)

I encourage you to use these new words. Now there’s no need to use weird or big words just to make you sound smart. That would be insegrevious of you, and you will be thought of as a quoob. Have you heard those before? They’re not Shakespeare, but still fun.

Pardon me, sir; I have heard the word.
- Henry IV, part 2 (III.ii)

Instant Shakespeare: Just Add Time

Studying Shakespeare is not for the impatient. To the astute scholar this may seem obvious. But to the young enthusiast and/or less Shakespearienced actor can always use a reminder. There is no possible way to speak the text very well with your first time with the text. Even after a month of rehearsals for a play it’s not likely you’ll be great. If you work hard, and study all you can during that time you can be good but don’t beat yourself up over it! Actors study for several years before being proficient. English majors can easily read everything in the libary on Shakespeare and still struggle.

So what can you do? Be patient! To be a good classical actor takes years, decades even. An English teacher can cover Hamlet in class for a decade and still learn more every time. I don’t think anybody out there refers to themself as a Shakespeare “master” or “expert,” because those who know the most know that there’s always more to know. Those titles are usually bestowed upon those people by others.

You heavens, give me that patience, patience I need!
- King Lear (II.iv)

Have patience, I beseech.
- Comedy of Errors (IV.ii)

I know how hard this can be. I have a voracious appetite for knowledge and I will often try to learn much more than I have been able to put into practice. It’s not a great habit to have if you’re trying to get better at something. Take your time with Shakespeare, frustration is a natural occurrence before you get something right. Slow down and enjoy the ride. Don’t get ahead of yourself!

Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast.
- Romeo and Juliet (II.iii)

Theatre -> TV/Film?

I promise this post will be a bit off topic. Not about Shakespeare exactly, but theatre in general.
For those of you theatre students and other theatre practitioners out there: do you do theatre to do theatre? Or to go into film? Teachers: Do you teach students to act theatre so that they can do TV?

I’m often asked “What do you do?” or “What have you studied in school?” I will of course mention that I do theatre, and often that I am an actor. 99% of the time, the following response is “Oh, so I’ll be seeing you on TV sometime then! Not that I don’t want to do TV or film at some point, but it’s not my goal. I study theatre so that I can do theatre! My shelf is littered with books about theatre. Not film or TV – for now. It makes me wonder: Do people think that there’s no such thing as a life in the theatre? Or no money in theatre? Or do they think theatre is a dying art? If so I believe they’re wrong on all three accounts. There’s plenty to do in theatre. A life as an actor on the other hand IS harder and financial success solely performing is less likely. But who says that’s all I do?

Now for the iota of relevance to Shakespeare. You work with Shakespeare much if you do film or TV. Few seems to want to watch the Bard on a screen. But theatre companies around the world are constantly doing Shakespeare’s plays.

I’m allowed to go slightly off topic once in a while. It’s my blog darnit, I’ll yerk you if you tell me otherwise. Does anyone else have any sort of similar experience? Discuss!