Outside of a classroom setting I have never done Shakespeare. I said that out loud to myself just now and my “actor self” was ashamed.

I absolutely love Shakespeare. From the time I started reading it in high school I was hooked from day one, but I have never gotten to do it on stage. I think it is some right of passage as a stage actor to, at least once, perform in a Shakespeare play. I am finally getting the chance to perform that right of passage, and in a tough role for a beginner.

Oberon mostly speaks in long sections of poetic verse, as he should. The fairy world operates on a higher level than that of the human world so the changes in dialogue separate these two worlds.

The hardest part about speaking in verse is keeping myself from falling back into the rhythmic patterns inherent in iambic pentameter. Lines in verse must be spoken as one would speak in prose, so the task falls on me to activate the lines rather than just reciting the poetry. This has proven difficult for me to accomplish.

The other tricky thing for me about Shakespeare is the syntax of the lines.

Shakespearian English places words to fit within the iambic pentameter form (most of the time) leaving some words in places that someone who’s not familiar with Shakespeare confused. The thing I have discovered, though, is that if a word is switched to a different position in the line the flow of speech feels odd. I have been using this disruption of flow as a red flag for myself.

If the line feels off, it probably is.

So far this method has worked fairly well for me aside from a few short lines in which the flow of the line is not interrupted by a slight word change. “Am not I thy lord?” which is correct, as opposed to “Am I not thy lord?”