More Hot Tips for Preparing a Shakespeare Speech for Drama School

THE ESSENTIAL SHAKESPEARE MONOLOGUE CHEAT SHEET PART 2

At Acting Coach Scotland, we help people of all ages to prepare for drama school and college acting auditions. My colleague Nick J Field and I spend a considerable amount of our day helping people embrace and conquer the terrifying classical monologues of Shakespeare.

We love working on Shakespeare, in fact, I’ve recently completed a new eBook on the topic called Approaching Shakespeare.

Most acting schools want to see that you can tackle tricky verse speaking. It needs something different from the way you handle contemporary text, and that’s why we’ve developed this series of cheat sheets.

In the previous Cheat Sheet, we looked at the story journey throughout the piece. But today, I promise to let you in on a secret that would offer you a crucial tip for acting a Shakespeare Monologue.

Take a brief read through the following monologue of Sylvia in Two Gentlemen of Verona. In it, she tries to convince her father’s friend to help her.

O Eglamour, thou art a gentleman—

Think not I flatter, for I swear I do not—

Valiant, wise, remorseful, well accomplish'd:

Thou art not ignorant what dear good will

I bear unto the banish'd Valentine,

Nor how my father would enforce me marry

Vain Thurio, whom my very soul abhors.

Thyself hast loved; and I have heard thee say

No grief did ever come so near thy heart

As when thy lady and thy true love died,

Upon whose grave thou vow'dst pure chastity.

Sir Eglamour, I would to Valentine,

To Mantua, where I hear he makes abode;

And, for the ways are dangerous to pass,

I do desire thy worthy company,

Upon whose faith and honour I repose.

Urge not my father's anger, Eglamour,

But think upon my grief, a lady's grief,

And on the justice of my flying hence,

To keep me from a most unholy match,

Which heaven and fortune still rewards with plagues.

I do desire thee, even from a heart

As full of sorrows as the sea of sands,

To bear me company and go with me:

If not, to hide what I have said to thee,

That I may venture to depart alone.

It’s a great wee monologue for women, so don’t discount it from your list of potentials.

BUT - what I want to make you aware of are the VERBS - the DOING and DOING-related words in the speech. Shakespeare’s speeches hang on their verbs and verb-related words and paying particular attention to them as you perform it through will really help.

Try reading it again with the VERBS emphasised and brought to life with your voice:

O Eglamour, thou art a gentleman—

Think not I flatter, for I swear I do not—

Valiant, wise, remorseful, well accomplish'd:

Thou art not ignorant what dear good will

I bear unto the banish'd Valentine,

Nor how my father would enforce me marry

Vain Thurio, whom my very soul abhors.

Thyself hast loved; and I have heard thee say

No grief did ever come so near thy heart

As when thy lady and thy true love died,

Upon whose grave thou vow'dst pure chastity.

Sir Eglamour, I would to Valentine,

To Mantua, where I hear he makes abode;

And, for the ways are dangerous to pass,

I do desire thy worthy company,

Upon whose faith and honour I repose.

Urge not my father's anger, Eglamour,

But think upon my grief, a lady's grief,

And on the justice of my flying hence,

To keep me from a most unholy match,

Which heaven and fortune still rewards with plagues.

I do desire thee, even from a heart

As full of sorrows as the sea of sands,

To bear me company and go with me:

If not, to hide what I have said to thee,

That I may venture to depart alone.

Words like ‘art’ are related to the verb ‘to be’, so that’s why they have been included too. Sometimes the verbs are adverbs and sometimes they are past tense of verbs. My rule is that if the heart of the word is a verb, if you could write TO grieve - then grief should be brought to life as a verb. Check the word with TO to check its got a verb at its heart.

You’ll soon see that the speech comes to life.

In the next part, I’ll show you a smart wee trick for developing dynamics in your Shakespeare speech.

To You, The Best

COACH

Mark Westbrook is the author of the soon-to-be-released eBOOK - APPROACHING SHAKESPEARE - A Guide to Fearlessly Tackling Shakespeare Monologues for Drama School and College Acting Auditions.

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One of the biggest obstacles to a successful acting career is the inner critic, the voice in your head, but there are many more.

In this free advice guide, Acting Coach and Performance Psychology expert Mark Westbrook outlines the most common inner obstacles to success and offers you insightful and practical tools for overcoming them.

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