Monthly Archives: March 2018

As performing a Shakespearean Soliloquy

I do much wonder that one man, seeing how much another
man is a fool when he dedicates his behaviors to love, will,
after he hath laughed at such shallow follies in others,
become the argument of his own scorn by falling in love—
and such a man is Claudio. I have known when there was no
music with him but the drum and the fife, and now had he
rather hear the tabor and the pipe. I have known when he
would have walked ten mile afoot to see a good armor, and
now will he lie ten nights awake carving the fashion of a new
doublet. He was wont to speak plain and to the purpose,
like an honest man and a soldier, and now is he turned
orthography; his words are a very fantastical banquet, just
so many strange dishes. May I be so converted and see with
these eyes? I cannot tell; I think not.

-Benedick, Much Ado About Nothing

When you have the opportunity (good fortune?) to watch a Shakespearean play, at some point the leading role will turn to the audience, look at you, and slowly, for dramatic effect and to keep you with them through complex verbiage, tell you their thoughts, pour out their emotions, and advance the plot.

Lesser actors, however, will focus elsewhere- perhaps at the other characters on stage, or off into the wings of the auditorium, and they’ll be rushing through their lines as through an obstacle course (for there are many lines in Shakespeare, dripping with wit and meaning), relaxing only to celebrate their completion of one verbal feat and preparing themselves to take on the next.

In your public speaking, do you take the time to grab the audience’s attention with dramatic pace and the import of your message?  Or do you rush through the words, the clicks, the bullet points to meet some time constraint or agenda?

There’s a reason for the meter

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