Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rediscovering the Bard by Alyssa Keene

Signing up for a Shakespeare Intensive seemed exciting, slightly impetuous, and a bit daunting. After 13 years of acting on Fringe and LORT stages and everything in between, I had only been in one Shakespeare play... as a tiny blue kabuki cowboy singing Sons of the Pioneers songs. I hadn't had any verse on my lips in a long time.

Additionally, I am a teacher and Amy Thone, the instructor for the class, is a colleague of mine at Cornish College of the Arts. I teach voice and speech and many years ago grew tired of the way that Shakespeare was used as the go-to author for voice and speech text. Frankly, I had grown weary of Bardophiles. I wanted a way to come back to this text, find the wonder in it while casting aside the groupies, and possibly find a new way in to teaching voice and speech.

Amy Thone spoke to us about meter and using it in a way that finally turned on the lightbulb over my head. I taped my text over my kitchen sink while washing dishes and bobbed up and down to learn my lines. I read plays again until the language felt fluid before my eyes. As a voice teacher, I was familiar with highlighting comparisons in a text, but I had never thought of them as a form of persuasive speech. Suddenly, my dry technique had a fire under it, a need, a hungry pursuit.

I watched my classmates of varying levels of skill and experience crack open, grow, find passion and clarity. Their bravery and intellect was invigorating and their openheartedness was palpable. Everyone rooted for each other in their work and we gave both criticism and praise. Amy demanded more of me as an actor than I can remember in many years. The specificity, clarity, and ballsiness that she helped me find was new territory... And in the end, I found my own love of the Bard.

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