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Student Blog: Disaster Audition: Shakespeare Edition


What happens when an untrained actor, with no experience in Shakespeare, attends an audition for Romeo & Juliet?

Student Blog: Disaster Audition: Shakespeare Edition God, I hate Shakespeare! No really, I really hate Shakespeare. I had a traumatic experience auditioning for a Shakespeare's play, Romeo and Juliet. Obviously, as you can tell from the title, I didn't get casted for so many reasons.

This was back in 2012, I went to a Shakespeare audition without any knowledge of Shakespeare at all. At that point, my drama training consist of only a year of drama as part of the literature class, which was 30 mins a week, and we didn't touch Shakespeare's text at all.

For the audition, I had to prepare a Shakespeare's monologue within 2 weeks and I had none in my repertoire, I hadn't even created a repertoire back then. So I just went online to search for a monologue and it just happen to be Romeo and Juliet. Yes I know, everyone tells you not to do a monologue or song from the show you are auditioning for. I did it anyway. It was the oh-so-famous balcony scene.

I went for the audition which started with a group audition where we played theatre games and then followed by the individual monologues. I went first, which was a mistake. I did the monologue as how I would interpret it at the age of 17, with poor command of English, let alone olden English. It was so bad! I didn't realize it was bad until they asked me who my acting teacher was. That was just a smack on the face. The director was hoping to make it better by directing me after my first try, but if you don't even understand a single word you say, how could you connect the text to the acting.

Shakespeare's language is very complex, and most words are not often used nowadays in an everyday setting. As of now I have been working on Shakespeare's text on and off for 3 years in drama school. Although I have the tools to take on Shakespeare's text, I often get anxious just thinking about it. This is partly because of my scarce vocabulary, I am not able to understand most words. It is a lot of work and I salute anyone who can just pick up Shakespeare's text easily.

Currently, I'm working on a scene for the Shakespeare workshop as part of school. I was assigned the Romeo and Juliet scene between the Nurse and Juliet, I am the Nurse. It really has turned a full circle with Romeo and Juliet. There are many ways to go about handling a new text for the first time. I'm not one to teach you anything, but if you need help, here is what I'll do when I approach Shakespeare's text.

I will start off with getting to know all the words first, so the dictionary is your best friend. Next is to know the context of the play/act/scene by reading it or find a summary of it. Then I will analyze the iambic pentameter. The pentameter will give clues on how the text should be delivered. Then I'll have to recognize some of the elements in the text to know the metaphors, similes, and other details. I really suggest getting a teacher to teach you how to break down Shakespeare's text. After all that work, then I will rehearse and block it. The extra steps are a really difficult and tedious process, and memorizing them is also a challenge. Also, I have yet to master them as well.

I tell myself that I will never want to work on a Shakespeare show because doing a monologue is hard enough, let alone a whole play. But i think that it is very important to familiarize myself with his works and appreciate the intricacy of the works. I still get anxiety from Shakespeare, but now I have ways to manage that. I hope your experience with Shakespeare is better than mine, if not, let's hold hands and pull through it together!

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From This Author Student Blogger: Zac Denver Lee