From My Mother's Basement…

Royal Shakespeare Company Lecture With John Barton & Cecily Berry September 19, 2011

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Royal Shakespeare Theatre Lecture with John Barton (Co-Founder) and Cecily Berry (Voice Director)

Sunday, 18 September, 2011

In The Swan Theatre: Stalls, L,22

My Lecture Notes – 

Sonnet Work:

CICELY: sonnet 129 “The expense of spirit”…

* walk around and change direction on every piece of punctuation *it gives you direction, one word LEADS into the next one.

Peter Brooks says, “There’s a million ways to say one line”. …take the word “savage”…

JOHN: the great value of working w/ sonnets is that THEY ARE SHORT!!! * use the words to make the audience listen * you’ve got to NEED to talk * job as the director is to get an actor to help himself * every sonnet has a story * repetition helps the story emerge * ask questions. There are far more question in the text of Shakespeare than you’d think and you MUST ASK THEM!!!

CICELY: When a character uses an image – it’s not because they’re describing something. It is because that is WHERE THEY ARE LIVING!

JOHN: Sonnets are exercize.

CICELY: it is the imagery that takes us into the depths our souls * and the rhythm HAS to come out * yet “we” want it to sound modern * it is the challenge for today’s actors…


Switching Between Verse & Prose:

JOHN: Actors find their own way by DOING IT!!! (How actors figure out the dynamics of Shakespeare)

CICELY: the audience pays to listen, we get paid to be heard * be a conduit

JOHN: work on structured argument – if, then, therefore * the musculature of the text, helps demystify it * taste every single word as you would in the bathtub at home * rhetoric – the art of argument, persuasion, and reason

CICELY: it is the actor’s job to excite people with language * we are still moved by people who speak well * use language as music *imperative that drama schools work on verse, classical, and modern – it is a skill!

*We want the audience not to leave satisfied, but wanting change*Shakespeare is always relevant to now.

JOHN: We’ve got to get into Shakespeare’s world, not to try to bring him into ours.

Cicely: We learn Shakespeare by DOING IT!!! *We want the audiance to say, “I see what he feels”…

Have a NEED TO SPEAK – use the words to GET OTHER’S ATTENTION!

JOHN: with a soliloquy you are never alone because you are with the audience *there’s a difference between expressing and emotion on stage, and coping on stage with the emotions you’re dealing with…

CICELY: whatever accent you are doing, it helps keep the muscularity together

Sustaining Shakespeare on Stage Night After Night: (Penny, the Australian) You find all these different gears you can shift through, just like a bicycle * And you MUST ALWAYS BE PRESENT and LISTENING!!!

JOHN: You have to listen and you have to make others listen

CICELY: Shakespeare thinks quickly * the SPEED OF THOUGHT is: quickly

JOHN: If you slow down the pace, you constipate the story!

PENNY: If there’s a half line, don’t act between it, come right on in & finish the line

CICELY: it’s not a PAUSE, it’s a POISE on the word

*they were both old as dirt,  but still had a tenacity for life, Shakespeare, and the stage – it was wonderful to see them present and in the moment on stage!

– A. Ryan Jones