Working on Shakespeare monologues can provide for you a well rounded way of discovering your own process of working creatively on material.
One of the reasons why Shakespeare is still relevant today in because the depth of his humanity rings true within all his characters.
Shakespeare was capable of seamlessly writing about a drunkard or a King with the utmost truth. He did not need to be a king in order to express the humanity of one.
His imagination and his deep understanding of human behavior and feelings is why working on his monologues can help you grow in your acting work.
There is variety. There is range.
In a way, he has already done the hard work for you. He set down the blueprint. It is your job as an actor to bring it to life through your own original interpretation.
7 Reasons Why Shakespeare Monologues Matter
1. You practice memorizing lines.
This at first may seem silly to list here but it is actually really important. The more you learn lines, the more you grow accustomed to it and the easier it gets over time.
You can’t perform without learning your lines and Shakespeare monologues are a terrific way to help you develop those skills.
Learning to comprehend and take in verse…enhancing your appetite to appreciate language, how words flow and sound, will help you improve your analytical skills in the work you do.
2. You get to work on character.
Working on a Shakespeare monologue really gives you the opportunity to work on character in a multitude of ways.
Shakespeare really knows the characters he brings to life. Whether they have a few lines or large soliloquies, they are alive.
What better way for you to challenge yourself with the weight of a master writer?
Shakespeare’s characters will elevate your own work on a character. You will begin to see things more accurately as you begin to sketch, draw and paint your portrait from his words.
3. You have the opportunity to work with your imagination.
Isn’t it wonderful that you get to travel with Shakespeare’s imagination from all the stories he created for us?
When working on a Shakespeare monologue you get to make choices and take risks and he always holds you up.
There is so much room for exploration and discovery that you will never get tired uncovering new nuggets of creative gold.
Being able to investigate and seek out truth in your work is one of the building blocks of acting, isn’t it?
Shakespeare makes that journey all the more possible and exciting. His plays will open new horizons for your imagination, feed your heart and enrich your soul.
4. You get to perform.
If you are going to perform, you may as well perform a Shakespeare monologue when the opportunity presents itself to you.
The more you get up in front of people to act Shakespeare, the better you will become.
Practice doesn’t make perfect but the more you consistently rehearse and perform Shakespeare, the better you will get as an actor overall.
5. Working on imaginary circumstances.
Shakespeare monologues are so vast in their circumstances. You can spend a lifetime working on one monologue and enjoy every minute of it.
When working on a Shakespeare monologue you will be strengthening your instrument to live inside of intense or comical situations the author has set before you.
Shakespeare was pretty clever at structure and rising conflict. You can benefit a great deal when locking into a monologue piece because of everything Shakespeare has surrounded you with.
The more you know about what your character is experiencing, the more you will stretch in your work.
6. Relationship and communication building.
Another great facet when working on a monologue is building a connection between you and the other person who you are talking to, even if that other person is actually yourself as Hamlet does.
Shakespeare creates so much conflict and depth between his characters that the fuel you have to work with seems unlimited.
For instance, look at Hamlet’s relationship with his father…who isn’t even present in the flesh and even appears as a ghost. There is plenty to chew on and see from the torment he feels over his father’s wrongful death. Look at Ophelia and what she must try to come to grips with when communicating with Hamlet’s ‘madness’. The list goes on and on.
One must dive in and see what unfolds.
Working on Shakespeare when it comes to building relationships is a strong way to grow in your work when working on a monologue from one of his plays.
I am sure by now you can already see how much you can get out of working on Shakespeare monologues.
The amount of research involved and discipline to really dig deep and make connections is remarkable. You can literally never stop finding nuances.
Shakespeare monologues are really wonderful when it comes to practicing your research for a role because you get to research the society of a particular time period.
Such skills are essential to an actor.
In a way actors are like private investigators. Piecing together the scene with elements of truth until it begins to reveal itself.
At first, Shakespeare may seem daunting. Centuries have gone by and the drastic changes to our society have provided an enormous gap to how things were back then when compared to how they exist in the here and now.
Truth is, it doesn’t make a difference.
Another thousand years will go by and Shakespeare will remain relevant so long as we have actors who take him on and penetrate through the fundamental values and morals he has written about.
Many struggles remain true today as they may remain true tomorrow based on the problems people manage.
Therefore, one must look past time periods when working on Shakespeare. One must not feel inadequate to verse.
Instead, pick up a Shakespeare monologue and give it a read. I bet you will get hooked and never look back!