Shakespeare in Performance

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by gmitchell4
Last updated 8 years ago

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Shakespeare in Performance

So you want to perform Shakespeare do ya? Well there are some rules you have to know first! 1. Every line in Shakespeare's plays follows a rhythm meter, and uses a nifty tool called "scansion" (These are defined in the box below!)2. The lines in every Shakespeare play follow the rules of Iambic Pentameter. (This is explained in a box to your right!)3. Each line has ten syllables in it, look at the soliloquy at the bottom right of the glog and write out the first three lines and count the syllables.

Understanding ShakespeareIt's easy to get bogged down in the words that The Bard wrote. So when approaching a piece take the time to read it as many times as possible. This allows the actor to have a clear idea of what is being said by his or her character.Below is a Soliloquy from Shakespeare's Play "Macbeth" take the time to read it and copy it down, and once you think you've got a handle on what's happening try translating it into your own words!

Watch this video and listen for the use of Iambic Pentameter.

rhythm: the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line.meter: the number of feet in a line.scansion: Describing the rhythms of poetry by dividing the lines into feet, marking the locations of stressed and unstressed syllables, and counting the syllables.


Iambic Pentameter is a commonly used metrical line in traditional verse and verse drama. The term describes the particular rhythm that the words establish in that line. That rhythm is measured in small groups of syllables; these small groups of syllables are called "feet".There are Ten syllables in each line(Five pairs of alternating unstressed and 5 pairs of stressed syllables)The rhythm in each line sounds like: ba-BUM / ba-BUM / ba-BUM / ba-BUM / ba-BUMMost of Shakespeare’s famous quotations fit into this rhythm. For example:If mu- / -sic be / the food / of love, / play on

Is this a dagger which I see before me,The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible To feeling as to sight? or art thou butA dagger of the mind, a false creation,Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?I see thee yet, in form as palpableAs this which now I draw. Thou marshall'st me the way that I was going;And such an instrument I was to use.Mine eyes are made the fools o' the other senses,Or else worth all the rest; I see thee still,And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood, Which was not so before. There's no such thing:It is the bloody business which informsThus to mine eyes. Now o'er the one halfworldNature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuseThe curtain'd sleep; witchcraft celebrates Pale Hecate's offerings, and wither'd murder,Alarum'd by his sentinel, the wolf,Whose howl's his watch, thus with his stealthy pace.With Tarquin's ravishing strides, towards his designMoves like a ghost. Thou sure and firm-set earth,Hear not my steps, which way they walk, for fearThy very stones prate of my whereabout,And take the present horror from the time,Which now suits with it. Whiles I threat, he lives:Words to the heat of deeds too cold breath gives.[A bell rings]I go, and it is done; the bell invites me.Hear it not, Duncan; for it is a knellThat summons thee to heaven or to hell. [Exit]

Shakespeare in Performance(The Basics)

Where do I begin?

Macbeth Act 2 scene 1 Soliloquy(Use this for the exercises that are listed.)

Images used are copyright of the BBC.


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