This summer I performed my first Shakespeare soliloquy. In my quest to learn more about theatre I decided to attend a course on “Acting Shakespeare” at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. It was hard for me to pick a speech to learn as Shakespeare’s work is very well known and that comes with lots of expectations about the performance. I really didn’t think my first attempt should be Lady Macbeth or Hamlet. I also found it hard to find a female role that I connected with, so I picked a man, Berowne, from Love’s Labour’s Lost.
It was much more like acting through song than I was expecting. I often tell singers, in musicals, that they need to find the reason why they start singing, and with the soliloquy I have to find a reason why I’m going to start talking to myself. Of course, you aren’t really talking to yourself, you are talking to and connecting with the audience. And that is just like a good solo song performance. It was also physically challenging and I felt quite unfit. It requires a lot of energy to perform heightened text, to be real but not natural. You have to work hard to get across the meaning of the text with your voice and body, as many people struggle to understand Shakespeare.
I have been working on many different aspects of theatre, some of which I have no interest to try again, but I enjoyed Shakespeare. The words are beautiful, the stories are timeless, and since the works are in the public domain there is a lot of scope to be creative.
All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts. — Jaques, As You Like It