Love Language

If there were a two word answer to the question “what do I have to do to be a great classical actor?” My answer would be LOVE LANGUAGE.

Of course there is no magic two word answer that tells you exactly how to be a great actor. Loving Language is a simple concept, but the unleashing the full potential of your words is anything but easy. There’s no way to shortcut doing all your text analysis just because you think you love language. Text work is there to make sure that you use the text well. Having seen plenty of both good and bad productions of Shakespeare with good and bad actors, the good actors who speak well are easy to spot because they love language! It’s not enough just to talk the text. There is so much meaning in this text that you really have to dissect it and make sense of it to the audience.

In our odd American culture, we have been taught to distrust language. Words are misleading. Legal jargon surrounds everything and none of it has meaning. We have forgotten how to express ourselves using words. These days people express themselves through acts of violence after holding expression for too long. But Shakespeare characters are expressive! The words they use are their biggest tool for self-expression. Words live in the body, and come from the heart, the gut, not just the head.
Words, feelings, and thoughts are all one.
This is why there’s no subtext in Shakespeare. What the character thinks, feels, and speaks are all the same. And if they’re lying or being ironic – they’ll probably tell you!

Remember to love language. Use the words when you speak! From Will Shakespeare to Neil Simon, use your words effectively and you’ll be a better actor. An audience doesn’t care if you can make yourself cry if we don’t care what you’re saying. Love language like you would in any serious relationship. You have to love, respect, use, play with, learn about, don’t neglect it, and have fun with it.

WOTD: Haply

Not Happily. Haply!

haply (adv.) IPA pronunciation: /’hæp.li/
perhaps, maybe, by chance, with luck

CORDELIA
…Haply, when I shall wed,
That lord whose hand must take my plight shall carry
Half my love with him, half my care and duty.

-King Lear (I.i)

Often when people come across this word the think it is “happily” contracted. NO! This “hap” is related to the hap in perhaps. If you read it as “happily” then the meaning can be completely different.

NOW YOU KNOW

Review: All The Words on Stage

by Louis Scheeder and Shane Ann Younts

How many times have you been reading one of Shakespeare’s plays and stumbled across a word and wondered, “How the fardel do I say that!?” You can look up a definition without too much difficulty in a dictionary or some other books. But none of the published Shakespeare dictionaries offer pronunciations of the words in them. That’s where this book comes to the rescue!

All the Words on Stage offers a good solution for this. The book lists a few thousand words and names and how to sound like you know what you’re talking about. The book lists American English pronunciation in both the author’s phonetic spelling and in the International Phonetic Alphabet (yay!) The usual pronunciation is listed, along with an alternate if it is pronounced differently to fit into the iambic pentameter.

Also included are sections on scansion of the verse, pronouncing foreign accents and languages written in the text, and more language notes on this and that. This dictionary is missing a few words here and there – one can hardly expect perfection – but a related word is usually there whose pronunciation can help.

If there were only two books that I could take into a rehearsal for a Shakespeare play, this book would be one of them. The other would be Shakespeare’s Words. A good combination so that I know what the words mean and how to say them. A very good place to start when speaking text. For being so useful, I give this book 4.5 Bards. You need it. Get it!

All the Words on Stage: A Complete Pronunciation Dictionary for the Plays of William Shakespeare

WOTD: Convive

Tis the season to convive!

convive (v.) IPA:
To feast together, enjoy a banquet

AGAMEMNON.
First, all you peers of Greece, go to my tent;
There in the full convive we…

-Troilus and Cressida (IV.iv)

Convive with your families this Holiday season while you’re on Christmas break. None of this “winter break” political correctness. The fact of the matter is Hannukah is over and the break was invented to have time off for Christmas. Convive and be merry!

Review: Shakespeare.Nowheres.Com

A very simple website, and a quick way to get to Shakespeare’s plays. They have a list up of when you click on “works” of the plays organized like in the Folio (Comedies, Tragedies, Histories). There’s also a “Poetry Machine” that randomly selects words and posts them like word magnets on your fridge and you can arrange them. Not as useful, but it’s good if you can’t afford the magnets.

The only downside is, of course, it’s another usual internet source of the texts: errors galore. So if you need a scholarly edit of the text, don’t look here. But if you just need to reference the text quickly then here’s a good place for you to look. This site gets 3 out of 5 Bards. Not great, but it’s there and it can be useful for you. It has been for me.

Shakespeare.Nowheres.Com

Review: Shakespeare’s Words

by David Crystal & Ben Crystal

This is a book that I almost can’t live without. It is essentially a dictionary of most of the words that Shakespeare uses in his plays. But I’d be selling it short if I said it was just that. The majority of the book is the dictionary. The editing is very clear and concise, it’s always the first place I look when I come across a word that I don’t know

Aside from just being a dictionary, every so often there are encyclopedic entries about various things; ie: counting numbers, insults/curses/swears, differentiating certain words, terms on a certain subject (mythology, ships, etc).

After all that, you get a couple pages devoted to each show which includes a sypnosis, a list of characters, and venn diagram-esque circles that visually show how all the characters are connected! It’s wonderful for some of the more complex plots where it helps to see how everyone is related. Especially the Hisories.

I’d be lying if I told you that I summarized everything in this book. You’ll just have to by it to see it yourself! This book is a must-have for all Shakespeare enthusiasts and theatre practicioners. Hence the 5 out of 5 rating. Go out and get it! Or else….

Shakespeare’s Words: A Glossary and Language Companion

Review: PlayShakespeare.com

Here’s a fairly new website who strives to be something great. Believe you me, they’re on their way. Lots of websites have the complete works online, but they’re all from the same source and have mistakes all over the place. PlayShakespeare.com has people working on these texts to give them a more friendly and scholarly edit to fix these mistakes. It’s a big job and the work has only just begun.

They also have the whole play as printed in the First Folio in modern type. Now you can see the capitalization, spelling, and punctuation as first printed in 1623. It’s a great resource if you don’t want to look through gigantic PDFs of a Facsimile copy of the Folio, or don’t have access to a physical book of the Folio.

My next favorite part of the plays is that they have mouse-over definitions. There aren’t a lot in there yet, but given some time you’ll have a one stop source for text analysis. The site also includes documents of hard to find info on many of the plays, a search feature of everything, and a really great discussion forum where there’s lots of great info posted, and a good place to get some help if you need it.

I could go on, but I’ll let you check it out for yourself. Overall I give PlayShakespeare.com 4 out of 5 Bards for their great resources and potential to be something amazing. If they finish what they started, I will most certainly give them an extra Bard.

PlayShakespeare.com

WOTD: Fardel

For the first word of the day, I just picked something random that came to mind.

Fardel or Farthel (n) IPA pronunciation:
1. a pack, a bundle
2. burden

SHEPHERD
Sir, there lies such secrets in this fardel and box, which none must know but the king;
-The Winter’s Tale (IV.iv)

HAMLET
…who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
-Hamlet (III.i)

ETYMOLOGY: c.1300, from O.Fr. fardel, dim. of farde, perhaps from Arabic fardah.