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SHAKESPEARE

Shakespeare has been very good to me.

A decade ago, the first Shakespeare workshop I attended was led by none other than Sir Ian McKellen, who opened my eyes to the world of possibilities hidden in this intricate, poetic text.

Since then, I have had an insatiable appetite for performing Shakespeare. In 2014 I managed to be in a different Shakespeare production every month of the year, and since then I have  toured the country playing leading roles in his most celebrated plays. Throughout this time, I read every book I could find, attended every workshop I could book, played roles, attended readings, and enjoyed animated discussions on innumerable different approaches.

Throughout this process, I developed my taste, honed my insight, and short-listed the best and most effective approaches to text in performance, while innovating a few of my own.

This has resulted in a product and workshop for actors: The Shakespeare Deck.

THE SHAKESPEARE DECK

The Shakespeare Deck is a powerful, portable toolkit designed to help you crack Shakespeare’s codes, and unlock the power and potential of his words in your work.

The Shakespeare Deck contains 50 definitions, 28 exercises, and 12 prompts across four category areas: Forensic Linguistics, Rhetoric, Working The Text, and Engaging The Audience. 

The deck is designed to equip you with a varied toolkit – maximising your awareness of the options available to you when exploring the text and developing a character.

The difference with this approach is that the possibilities are opened up by discoveries made in the text. Shakespeare has given you everything you need, you just need to develop the same shared knowledge his contemporaries would have had, to unlock what is coded into the very fabric of the plays.

Instead of feeling like you’re fighting against the text, the deck allows you to make informed choices that work with, and enrich, what is there on the page, without limiting your creativity or ownership of the role.

The Shakespeare Deck is deliberately concise, and eminently flexible. It can be used as you see fit, to suit your needs in the particular moment, without having to pore over numerous weighty tomes to discern what might be of use. It serves best as a series of reminders, inspirations, and seeds of creative practice.

I run workshops that explore the elastic possibilities of the ideas contained in the Shakespeare Deck, stretching them further, going deeper, and enriching your understanding of the content.

SHAKESPEARE LABS

Cracking The Shakespeare Code‘ is an intensive, fast-paced, practical lab session, available as a one-day introduction or two-day workshop. The lab introduces & applies many of the ideas and exercises in The Shakespeare Deck, and expands upon them to unlock even greater confidence when tackling classical text.

Shakespeare is known as England’s greatest writer. But he was not a genius: he was a craftsman.

By understanding and applying the same tools and approaches he used to sculpt his masterpieces, you can harness the richness of his text quickly, easily and fearlessly.

These sessions are ideal for:

• Actors seeking to enrich their approach to text
• Productions seeking Shakespeare capabilities training for their company of actors
• Drama Schools seeking alternative approaches
• University drama groups and societies
• English Literature departments seeking practical sessions
• Amateur theatre companies seeking professional best practice

You will be introduced to a perspective and a tool kit used by the Bard himself, enabling you to better appreciate the purposeful nature of his writing, and the intended effect on the audience.

You will discover an actor’s responsibilities when playing Shakespeare – to the text, to the audience and to each other.

Across the day, you will combine code-breaking with physical and movement exercises, ensemble work and more, all to uncover new dimensions in a variety of extracts, soliloquys and scenes.

This workshop will change the way you see Shakespeare on the page, to make your performances more accessible, rewarding, and powerful on the stage.

FEEDBACK

THE READING LIST

If the Shakespeare Deck has inspired you, and you wish to mine deeper into the intricacies of Shakespeare’s work, I have compiled a list of some of the best books I discovered on the subject over the last decade. Each of these will provide an alternative view on the subject of working with Shakespeare’s text, and each has valuable insights to offer:

Shakespeare’s Advice To The Players – Peter Hall
The Elements Of Eloquence – Mark Forsyth
Speaking Shakespeare – Patsy Rodenburg
Speaking The Speech – Giles Block
The Actor & The Text – Cicely Berry
Playing Shakespeare – John Barton
Thinking Shakespeare – Barry Edelstein
Shakespeare’s Metrical Art – George T Wright
Shakespeare’s Words – David & Ben Crystal
Shakespeare on Toast – Ben Crystal

CONTACT

If you would like to inquire about workshops, discuss The Shakespeare Deck, or provide feedback, drop me a line using the contact form below.

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