According to History.com, April 23 is remembered as the birthday and death day of the great poet, actor and playwright, William Shakespeare.
College Media Network sat down with three theater students at universities to discuss how Shakespeare and his work has made an impact on them as performers and directors.
“Shakespeare is one of the most important foundations to study as an actor,” sophomore Taylor Congdon said. She recalls numerous of his most well-known plays, like Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. “Learning and studying the language of his plays helps me develop my craft and hone in on my skills with scansion and rhythm.”
Senior acting/directing major Nicolette Pizzigoni explained how much depth there is to some of Shakespeare’s greatest pieces.
“Everyone knows Shakespeare so it makes a valuable template to return to and revisit in order to find new contexts and new stories,” Pizzigoni said. “That’s the thing about Shakespeare—each of his plays is actually a million plays in one.” She explains how each play leaves quite a bit of room for how to get from one point to another, but still walk away with a central theme.
“As a person who creates theatre, studying and presenting Shakespeare has taught me so many things and opened my eyes to some true theatrical beauty,” directing student Anna Langrehr said. “Studying all of the unique elements of his writing—his intricate plots, motifs, figurative language, syntax, etc.— have helped me understand theatre in a history and universal way.”
“If an actor really wants to practice his or her skills in character work or intention, we most likely turn to the more dated plays like Shakespeare’s because they are so difficult to interpret in our own terms,” Congdon added. “William Shakespeare has been around for centuries, and reading or performing one of his masterpieces will show why we have kept him around for so long.”
The three theatre students also discussed some common misconceptions about Shakespeare they wish to put to rest.
“One common thing that people forget is that Shakespeare was not primarily a playwright,” Congdon said. “Along with his skills in writing, he was also a popular actor in his time, possibly even acting in his own works from time to time!”
“A common misconception I’d like to stop is that Shakespeare’s work was perfect,” Pizzigoni told CMN. “His plays have as many flaws as any other. They’re different flaws, but they’re problematic, nonetheless.”
“I feel that anyone can study Shakespeare who really puts their mind to it,” Langrehr added. “When I began reading, performing, and presenting Shakespeare, I was extremely hesitant and nervous about whether or not I was doing things correctly.” She added that anyone who brings the effort to understand Shakespeare’s witty, eloquent writing can be successful in their endeavors.
Happy 454th to the Bard!
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