The Advanced Class in my private Voice and Speech program is working on their first Shakespeare monologues. We finished a series of scanning exercises. These included discussions about short verse lines, long verse lines, shared verse lines, epic caesuras, elisions, stretching a word, and acting on the verse line. Now the challenge, and I think it is an exciting challenge, is to use all of the technical tools the students have learned while acting.
It’s one thing to read the words with a nice supported voice but it’s something entirely different to invest in the emotional life of the character, understand her/his point of view about the other characters in the scene, and play the objective. While they are acting, they are trying to remember to breathe, keep the voice supported, and use the clarity of the speech sounds that we worked on during the First Level of the Program. It’s a lot! And it’s also the reason that after working on Shakespeare monologues, the actors feel like they can handle any language whether it’s voice-over copy (which can very tricky), a modern film script, a new play or a TV show.
Using the Shakespeare Pronunciation App For Shakespeare Monologues
All of the students have the Shakespeare Pronunciation app. With this app they have a wonderful source at their fingertips for the correct audio pronunciation of the words. In addition to the pronunciation of every word, I showed them that clicking on “More” takes them to the “Official Shakespeare Pronunciation Reference Website”. This website includes sections on “Scanning the Verse”, “Latin”, “Accents, Dialects and Foreign Languages”, and “Words to Watch Out For”. The section “Words to Watch Out For” gives a sampling of words in each play that expand or contract to fulfill the demands of the meter. In addition there are examples of words where the stress is different than the stress used today. One example is the word “demonstrate” which today we stress on the first syllable. In contrast, in the plays, it often scans to a stress on the second syllable.
The Shakespeare Pronunciation app is becoming an essential tool for the students. Download your copy today!