TEN THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE TAKING A SHAKESPEARE ACTING CLASS TAUGHT BY A VERY IMPORTANT INSTRUCTOR WHO HAS WORKED WITH THE GLOBE THEATRE IN ENGLAND, FORLORDSSAKE
1) If the Very Important Teacher From Britain Who's Worked With the Globe Theatre ever asks you to share any facts you might know about Shakespeare, say something no more detailed or thoughtful than, "Uh... born in England?" or you will be asked why you bothered to come if you already know everything.
2) The teacher is likely to tell you it is ACTing, not thinking... blinking... snorkeling... especially not thinking.
3) While noting Shakespearean scansion, the five beats of a line should be counted on five fingers: pinky first, thumb last, last, last, while saying "te-tum" on every beat. No, I said "te-tum". Now say it again. No. You still haven't got it.
4) Teacher may ask you to perform emotional recall even while claiming this is NOT Method Acting, forgodssake (similar to any politician promising four years of things like peace).
5) Consider the possibility that Stanislavsky frightens the English and is a good subject to avoid.
6) Read Shakespeare aloud with your tongue stuck on your lower lip, because, you must assume, Teacher thinks public humiliation is good for you and this classroom exercise will perk up Teacher no end.
7) Consider the possibility Teacher's need to humiliate each and every student has nothing to do with the educational process and everything to do with a little voice inside Teacher's head that says, "That'll show mother”?
8) Teacher may also hear a tightening in your throat which is completely imperceptible to you. This will indicate to teacher that you are a SELFISH actor who never gives ANYthing to an audience. When this happens, the proper thing to do is stop breathing and smile, because if your throat wasn't tight before, it is bygod tight now.
9) ... and note-taking. Stop taking notes.
10) Did I hear you thinking?
Meredith Bean McMath is a prize-winning playwright, award-winning historian, stage director, speaker and former Managing Director of Run Rabbit Run Productions, Inc.