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    Category Archive: Acting Shakespeare

    “Now is the Winter of our discontent…” — in Original Pronunciation

    The Richard III Quarto, at the British Library Evolving English Exhibition, 13 November 2010 -- 3rd April 2011

    I was asked to record the opening speech of Richard 3 for the British Library’s Evolving English Exhibition. Knowing the listener would be using headphones while reading the original Quarto edition, I found myself whispering the speech into the microphone. Have a listen and get inside Richard’s head… The Folio text is below.

    Now is the Winter… in Original Pronunciation

    Enter Richard Duke of Gloster, solus.

    Now is the Winter of our Discontent,
    Made glorious Summer by this Son of Yorke:
    And all the clouds that lowr’d vpon our house
    In the deepe bosome of the Ocean buried.
    Now are our browes bound with Victorious Wreathes,
    Our bruised armes hung vp for Monuments;
    Our sterne Alarums chang’d to merry Meetings;
    Our dreadfull Marches, to delightfull Measures.
    Grim-visag’d Warre, hath smooth’d his wrinkled Front:
    And now, in stead of mounting Barbed Steeds,
    To fright the Soules of fearfull Aduersaries,
    He capers nimbly in a Ladies Chamber,
    To the lasciuious pleasing of a Lute.*
    But I, that am not shap’d for sportiue trickes,
    Nor made to court an amorous Looking-glasse:
    I, that am Rudely stampt, and want loues Maiesty,
    To strut before a wonton ambling Nymph:
    I, that am curtail’d of this faire Proportion,
    Cheated of Feature by dissembling Nature,**
    Deform’d, vn-finish’d, sent before my time
    Into this breathing World, scarse halfe made vp,
    And that so lamely and vnfashionable,
    That dogges barke at me, as I halt by them.
    Why I (in this weake piping time of Peace)
    Haue no delight to passe away the time,
    Vnlesse to see my Shadow in the Sunne,
    And descant on mine owne Deformity.

    *In the Quarto text the word is Love, not Lute
    **I think my favourite bit is the way the rhythm begins to canter here…

    Passion in Practice – Two

    In November 2010, I ran a Process week on Shakespeare at the Three Mills Studios with the director Dan Winder, and formed a Company of actors for six days.

    Laura Wickham, Natalie Thomas, Diana Kashlan, Jamie Harding, Jaskiranjit Deol, William Sutton, Warren Rusher, David Baynes, Dan Winder and myself (joined on the last day by Ben O’Mahoney) worked towards a fresh approach to acting Shakespeare.

    On the last couple of days we worked closely with the First Folio, exploring as a Company how far we could follow the text as it was printed – irrespective of compositors’ mistakes – to see what directions and new ideas we could find.

    In short: if we ignore all the emendations that have been made over the centuries by non-theatre practitioners – if the Folio text is entirely as the author intended it to be, and was written to be understood by actors – how do we make it work, as it is? Can we make it work…?

    Some images from that day…

    All photos are copyright of Scott Wishart

    Passion in Practice

    In November 2010, I ran a Process week on Shakespeare at the Three Mills Studios with the director Dan Winder, and formed a Company of actors for six days.

    Laura Wickham, Natalie Thomas, Diana Kashlan, Jamie Harding, Jaskiranjit Deol, William Sutton, Warren Rusher, David Baynes, Dan Winder and myself worked towards a fresh approach to acting Shakespeare.

    Using a combination of solid Folio-based text-work, and physical exercises I’ve adapted from Complicit√© and the Shakespeare voice coach Cicely Berry, we played and explored for a week…

    A documentary team filmed the process, and that footage will be up on this page soon.

    In the meantime, some images of the week.

    All photos are copyright of Scott Wishart