In this first workshop, Cicely Berry introduces us to the fundamentals of meter and rhythm in Shakespeare. The group discovers how that underlying beat, the iambic pentameter, responds to the different thoughts of a character. Students explore the lengths of vowels and consonants to feel the muscularity of the language. Working first on the Prologue to Romeo and Juliet, the group learns to beat out the meter. The rhythm is fairly regular, yet the need to tell a story makes us dwell on certain words. By experimenting with different lengths of phrases, students grasp the infinite variety of meaning and texture possible in Shakespeare. The Prologue is first read together by the group, and then around a circle with each participant reading a line. By the end of the exercise, students hear and feel the verse's rhythm and how it may foretell the story of the play. Then the group moves to the jagged language of Sonnet 129, again beating out the meter, and gaining insight into the turmoil of the mind which the poem expresses. We hear clearly how Shakespeare used the lengths of phrases and contrasts between vowels and consonants to build muscularity and texture into his language. Cicely Berry now takes the group into an exploration of three speeches: Leontes from The Winter's Tale, Capulet from Romeo and Juliet, and Brutus from Coriolanus. The broken thoughts and disjointed lines of these characters reveal the emotional stress of the characters. Students actively comprehend the physicality of Shakespeare's language and how it always reinforces his meaning. Humour is ever present in Shakespeare. The workshop ends with the group working on Sonnet 138 to alert our ears to the puns and wordplay that underlie even the most serious of Shakespeare's plays with irony. We find physical ways to unlock our innate response to the text, and to help us find new meanings. The changing physicality of the language connects with the meaning and reinforces it.
Episodes Comprise: - Exercise 1: Fundamentals of Metre and Rhythm - Exercise 2: Movement of Thought - Exercise 3: How Metre and Rhythm Inform Character - Exercise 4: Where Thoughts and Rhythm Collide - Exercise 5: Fullness of Language Within the Rhythm - Exercise 6: Word Play