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'Speak the Speech I Pray You': Directors Weigh in on Bringing Shakespeare to the Stage

Monday, July 18, 2011

William Shakespeare, 'Chandos portrait' William Shakespeare, 'Chandos portrait' (Wikipedia Commons)

The second of four panel discussions held in conjunction with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) residency at The Park Avenue Armory focused on “Directing Shakespeare." David Farr, the RSC's associate director and director of "King Lear" and "The Winter’s Tale" in the company's New York repertoire was joined by Arin Arbus, Associate Artistic Director of The Theater for a New Audience; Karin Coonrod, the founding director of the Arden Party Theater Company; and Mark Lamos, Artistic Director of the Westport County Playhouse.

The panel, moderated by the artistic director of The Shakespeare Society, Michael Sexton, took on each individual's personal approach to directing, acting and speech, and included the admission that sometimes "stealing" from other directors is part of the process.

Arin Arbus also echoed the remarks of the season's first two directors, Peter Brook and the RSC's Michael Boyd, in expressing belief in the power of hunches.

Bon Mots

David Farr on Shakespeare’s language: “His language gives you the psychology when you speak it. To get an actor to trust that is more and more unusual ... You are the words that you say. How can you be anything else?”

Mark Lamos on conveying the verse through your body: “It’s not this uggabugga thing. You’ve got this great instrument: two feet, two legs, knees that bend, a butt. Breathe through it all. Let it happen.”

Karin Coonrod on sussing out Shakespeare’s language: “...The visceral, the necessity, of speaking. ‘Why did you say that in that moment? Why are you full of contradictions?’ He gets more of the psychic cartography of our landscape than many.”

Arin Arbus on initial hunches and notions: “It’s never happened to me where the things you find are in contradiction to what your initial instinct is. I don’t know what I would do in that situation. That would be... unfortunate.”

Produced by:

Douglas Q. Smith

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