So, now that I'm getting back into the class groove, I wanted to pick up on a comments thread from our early days at Band Camp:
still alert wrote:
Which one of us has not suffered through the hell of the Turning Sonnets Into Drama assignment? Am I in the minority to believe that it is NOT an effective introduction to the Playing of Shakespeare?
And Stefan chimed in:
I agree that Sonnets are not the best way to teach an actor how to interpret the Bard's texts, but they are a fast and easy way to introduce Shakespeare spoken out loud to novice actors who are scared to death of him.
There was more, but that was the basic frame. And you're both right: John Barton, the RSC veteran whose text we're using in the class, has this to say:
Why, you may ask, are we going to work on nondramatic bits of text when our theme is acting in Shakespeare's plays? Well, sonnets can be excellent exercise pieces .... Most of the textual and verbal points that come up in working on the plays appear in the sonnets in concentrated form.
We've often found that it's better to use them when we have a session on Shakespeare's text than to take a speech or speeches from a particular play. Speeches are often too long to work on in detail, and they always trigger questions about the speaker's character and the rest of the play ... This may be a distraction from coming to terms with purely textual challenges. Sonnets can help to take the pressure off.
That makes a certain sense to Tboy -- whose second task, now, is to get inside Hamlet's head for 'What a piece of work...“