As I have mentioned before, I am currently in my third year of the acting program here at DePaul. As is true for many programs, there are a string of courses one must take in order to complete the major, and earn your degree. For the acting program, there is a planned out sequence of courses we take in our years of training. The third year of the program is when we get to finally tackle Shakespeare
in our coursework. This class is an acting class for us, meaning it is not simply a literature analysis of Shakespeare’s work, but it is geared toward performance majors and our goals to be able to speak and perform this wonderfully challenging text.
This course has been a two quarter sequence, and lucky for my class, it has been revamped this year. The Theatre School has hired a new faculty member this year, Cameron Knight, who now teaches acting and Shakespeare to the undergraduate and graduate acting students. We began with part one of the sequence in fall quarter of this year. The students in my class were all coming to begin this learning process with various experiences and knowledge of The Bard and his writing. By this I mean that some students came to the class already loving Shakespeare, some hating it, some having read many of his works, some never having read it at all, but we all started from the same place with the work.
The first quarter began with form. Learning all the conventions of Shakespeare’s writing, starting with reading analysis and scansion of the text. We then moved onto speaking the text and clear communication of the text. While analysis is great and essential, as actors we must learn how to be effective and clear in the speaking and communication of the text. We then moved into scene work leading up to our final, which was a presentation of these scenes for the performance faculty. This winter, we began the second part of the sequence. This quarter we jumped right in with scene work, paired with partners to work on different scenes, as well as monologues and group scenes.
I have really loved taking this course and have learned so much. Reading Shakespeare, and preparing it for performance really is like learning a new language, and a new way to approach language of any type. My professor was right when he says, if you can handle this author, you can handle just about any author/playwright. Once you learn the form, you get to "play Jazz" he says. He is truly a great teacher, and has facilitated this learning process in an individualized way. My class has gone from tentative and cautious with this challenging language, to truly understanding, loving, and now playing with these complicated and beautifully written stories. It has changed how I view this author, and how I see my future with this author as well, giving me a sense that I really could, with more work and practice, work confidently and well on Shakespeare and classical text during the rest of my collegiate career, and professionally. I love taking courses that directly apply to the skill set I desire to have for my career and this course has definitely done that.