Decoding Shakespeare

In the broadest sense, improv is about finding the fullest potential in what is readily available. Ergo every performance – even when scripted – is improvised because the actor is making the fullest use of the text, the stage, and the ensemble. Improv fosters spontaneity, ownership, and connectivity, ideal for a thespian’s education, where such skills are often overlooked in favor of the purely technical, dramaturgical, and conceptual. As actors, how do we transcend the lack-luster readings of Romeo & Juliet? How do we perform heightened and poetic language? How do we approach Shakespeare’s plays, not as works of literature, but as pieces of theatre meant to be performed? How do we embody an Elizabethan character with the same nuance and complexity we crave in contemporary theatre, while avoiding two dimensional clichés? How can we invite dialogue and notice intersections between white, Eurocentric, Shakespearean texts and works by artist from the global majority? We investigate and improvise around a set of principles.

In this workshop participants will learn tools for textual analysis that go beyond a simple understanding of vocabulary and iambic pentameter. These tools will provide clues as to how the text may be performed. Students will learn the basic principles of improvised theatre and apply them to Shakespearean performance and spoken word poetry. 


In a sense, Shakespeare, is like algebra. It is meant to be decoded and solved. If that stresses you out, know that - unlike math class - participants will be on their feet, experimenting with sonnets, monologues, poems, and hip-hop. Classwork will build directly upon and connect to previous acting experiences. Participants will walk away with an understanding of process, critical thinking, and experimentation, plus ideas on how to apply these tools to the contemporary theatre, poetry, and hip-hop. They will leave with rehearsal tools, devising models, and performance skills to sharpen their craft and collaborative competency. 


This workshop is also ideal for Theatre and English teachers seeking new ways to teach the Bard's work.