Many belated thanks to Flloyd Kennedy for a visit and her concurrence and very knowledgeable comments re: my post " 'Translating" Shakespeare' " 8/16/09.
Fortune has favored us from Down Under with input from Flloyd and her knowledge about the importance of Shakespeare's Words. (As much as I'm tempted, I'll forgo a quip here about "Fortune's Favours"-Hamlet 2.2.227-232.) uh...Maybe it's too late :-)
Wait--did I say 'her' ? Before we get into a discussion on the problems someone might think I have concerning 'gender issues', "Flloyd"--with 2 LLs--Kennedy is a noted Acting/Voice Instructor/Performer/Playwright ("The Fall of June Bloom: A Modern Invocation") from Australia. She's taught verse speaking at RSAMD, the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, and, in addition, has taught most of the other subjects related to speaking from a stage, at other notable educational institutions. She's also recently hung around with one of my heroes, Patsy Rodenberg, Director of Voice at London's Royal National Theatre, and author of the books The Actor Speaks and Speaking Shakespeare, among others. (ask me if I'm jealous; even a little bit)
However...moving on...Flloyd is quick to point out that in Australia, they're not so 'gender-specific' as we might have a tendency to be. "Actor", for instance, can mean either a male or female thespian. I've always preferred to not make that particular distinction myself. (Wonder if I have any 'joey' blood in me, mate?).
As an actor, director, and instructor of a technique developed from the First Folio of 1623 (the very first collected edition of Shakespeare's plays) I also find much in common with her philosophy and viewpoints on the ART of Acting.
I capitalize 'ART' because that's really what it is. This is especially so when it comes to acting Shakespeare. And far from what seems to be the most popular and prevalent wisdom relative to a Method of acting, (here in America at least) Flloyd recognizes the importance of a TECHNIQUE of Acting; one which also employs the Words, and values them as the Tools of the Trade they most certainly are. She also recognizes the danger of messing about with the words and/or ignoring their importance. Inherent in that danger, we, as actors, put ourselves at peril's mercy if we lose our connection to the very definite networking structure set up intrinsically within the words themselves--the voice/body/emotion/mind connection. This is so important, not just for Shakespeare or Acting in general. It's a vital component in any kind of Communication using Words as the Vehicle. It also directly affects how the communication is received, understood, interpreted, and appreciated--audience, reader, student, et al. (If you hang out here long enough, you'll probably get tired of hearing me babble about it).
Learning and Knowing HOW to "Speake the Speech"--Ham.3.2.1--is every bit as important as knowing what the speech means, or knowing how it's supposed to make us "feel". Knowing how to handle the words frees us, so that we can "feel"; and, in fact, it can be a definite source of incredible inspiration for that feeling. For both actor and observer, AND for the student/reader as well, the ability to banish the confusion, correct the misconceptions, and find the key to great understanding resides in Shakespeare's Form: His usage of particular words, sentence and verse structure, his genius as an Architect in putting them all together, and the connection to Voicing Them, in a sculpturally sound and highly communicable way.
So before we throw up our hands in disgust, annoyed with how difficult Shakespeare's words are (and believe me, I understand the feeling--I once felt the same way) maybe a little investigating into how they work might be the Thing: THE Ticket to The Play.
Click this post's title and read Flloyd Kennedy's comments on Words and "Translating Shakespeare". Visit her blog (http://beinginvoice.wordpress.com/) and tell her I sent you.
Hang out a little there--and here. Shakespeareplace is a new-borne Blog; there's a lot more to come on this very important subject.