Text Work Excerpts

A curated episode list by workingactors
Creation Date September 4th, 2018
Updated Date Updated July 3rd, 2019
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Text Work: Shakespeare's Henry VI with Armin Shimerman
The Working Actor's Journey
You wanted these text work sessions as separate episodes and I'm happy to accommodate! First up: @ShimermanArmin from Ep #2 takes us into Shakespeare's Henry VI, part 3 with Richard of Gloucester, a soliloquy Armin used for auditions. He also talks about his general approach to Shakespeare and some of the overall principles he teaches in classes. If you're following along, this speech is at the end of Act 3, Scene 2. Click here for show notes and more. See additional content on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.   Armin’s Monologue from Henry VI, Part III (Act 3, Scene 2) by Shakespeare RICHARD OF GLOUCESTER Ay, Edward will use women honorably. Would he were wasted, marrow, bones, and all, That from his loins no hopeful branch may spring, To cross me from the golden time I look for! And yet, between my soul’s desire and me— The lustful Edward’s title buried— Is Clarence, Henry, and his son young Edward, And all the unlook’d-for issue of their bodies To take their rooms, ere I can place myself: A cold premeditation for my purpose! Why then I do but dream on sovereignty, Like one that stands upon a promontory And spies a far-off shore where he would tread, Wishing his foot were equal with his eye, And chides the sea that sunders him from thence, Saying, he’ll lade it dry to have his way: So do I wish the crown, being so far off, And so I chide the means that keeps me from it, And so, I say, I’ll cut the causes off, Flattering me with impossibilities. My eye’s too quick, my heart o’erweens too much, Unless my hand and strength could equal them. [ARMIN BEGINS HERE, AND CUTS LINES] Well, say there is no kingdom then for Richard; What other pleasure can the world afford? I’ll make my heaven in a lady’s lap, And deck my body in gay ornaments, And witch sweet ladies with my words and looks. O miserable thought! And more unlikely Than to accomplish twenty golden crowns! Why, love forswore me in my mother’s womb; And for I should not deal in her soft laws, She did corrupt frail nature with some bribe, To shrink mine arm up like a wither’d shrub, To make an envious mountain on my back, Where sits deformity to mock my body; To shape my legs of an unequal size, To disproportion me in every part, Like to a chaos, or an unlick’d bear-whelp That carries no impression like the dam. And am I then a man to be belov’d? O monstrous fault, to harbor such a thought! Then since this earth affords no joy to me But to command, to check, to o’erbear such As are of better person than myself, I’ll make my heaven to dream upon the crown, And whiles I live, t’ account this world but hell, Until my misshap’d trunk that bears this head Be round impaled with a glorious crown. And yet I know not how to get the crown, For many lives stand between me and home; And I—like one lost in a thorny wood, That rents the thorns, and is rent with the thorns, Seeking a way, and straying from the way, Not knowing how to find the open air, But toiling desperately to find it out— Torment myself to catch the English crown; And from that torment I will free myself, Or hew my way out with a bloody axe. Why, I can smile, and murder whiles I smile, And cry “Content” to that which grieves my heart, And wet my cheeks with artificial tears, And frame my face to all occasions. I’ll drown more sailors than the mermaid shall, I’ll slay more gazers than the basilisk, I’ll play the orator as well as Nestor, Deceive more slyly than Ulysses could, And like a Sinon, take another Troy. I can add colors to the chameleon, Change shapes with Proteus for advantages, And set the murderous Machevil to school. Can I do this, and cannot get a crown? Tut, were it farther off, I’ll pluck it down.
Text Work: Singing Coward and Shakespeare's King Lear with Harry Groener
The Working Actor's Journey
Harry Groener from Ep. #4 talks text work on singing a Noel Coward song ("Mrs. Worthington") and performing King Lear's "Reason not the need" speech from Shakespeare's play. If you're following along, this speech is at the end of Act 2, Scene 4. He also shares ideas on how to make the most of your rehearsal time. Click here for full show notes and links. See additional content on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.   Harry’s Monologue from King Lear (Act 2, Scene 4) by Shakespeare KING LEAR O, reason not the need! Our basest beggars Are in the poorest thing superfluous. Allow not nature more than nature needs, Man’s life is cheap as beast’s. Thou art a lady; If only to go warm were gorgeous, Why, nature needs not what thou gorgeous wear’st, Which scarcely keeps thee warm. But for true need— You heavens, give me that patience, patience I need! You see me here, you gods, a poor old man, As full of grief as age, wretched in both. If it be you that stirs these daughters’ hearts Against their father, fool me not so much To bear it tamely; touch me with noble anger, And let not women’s weapons, water-drops, Stain my man’s cheeks! No, you unnatural hags, I will have such revenges on you both That all the world shall—I will do such things— What they are yet I know not, but they shall be The terrors of the earth! You think I’ll weep: No, I’ll not weep. I have full cause of weeping, but this heart Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws Or ere I’ll weep. O Fool, I shall go mad!
Text Work: Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead with Geoffrey Wade
The Working Actor's Journey
Geoffrey Wade from Ep. #5 talks text work on performing The Player from Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Geoffrey played this part at Weston Playhouse in Vermont and he even shares some of his script notes from rehearsals. Click here for full show notes and links. See additional content on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.   Geoffrey’s monologue from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard THE PLAYER: We’re actors…. We pledged our identities, secure in the conventions of our trade, that someone would be watching. And then, gradually, no one was. We were caught, high and dry. It was not until the murderer’s long soliloquy that we were able to look around; frozen as we were in profile, our eyes searched you out, first confidently, then hesitantly, then desperately as each patch of turf, each log, each exposed corner in every direction proved uninhabited, and all the while the murderous King addressed the horizon with his dreary interminable guilt…. Out heads began to move, wary as lizards, the corpse of unsullied Rosalinda peeped through his fingers, and the King faltered. Even then, habit and a stubborn trust that our audience spied upon us from behind the nearest bush, forced our bodies to blunder on long after they had emptied of meaning, until like runaway carts they dragged to a halt. No one came forward. No one shouted at us. The silence was unbreakable, it imposed itself on us; it was obscene. We took off our crowns and swords and cloths of gold and moved silent on the road to Elsinore.
Text Work: Pinter's The Hothouse with Peter Van Norden
The Working Actor's Journey
Peter Van Norden from Ep. #7 talks text work on performing platitudes and pauses in Harold Pinter's The Hothouse. As he was in rehearsals when we spoke, you'll hear how Peter is still figuring things out, still asking questions, and not really sure exactly where he'll ultimately arrive with this piece, and we're along for that journey. Click here for full show notes and links. Get your copy of "12 Top Acting Tips from Season One" See additional content on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.   Peter's monologue from The Hothouse by Harold Pinter ROOTE Patients, staff and understaff. A very merry Christmas to you all, and a happy and prosperous new year. And on behalf of all the staff I'd like to wish all the understaff the very best luck for the year to come and a very happy Christmas. And to the patients I should like to send a personal greeting, to each and every one of them, wishing them the heartiest compliments of the season, and very best wishes, on behalf of the staff, the understaff and myself, not forgetting the Ministry, which I know would be glad to be associated with these words, for a healthy, happy and prosperous new year. /Pause/ We have had our little difficulties, in the year that is about to die, our little troubles, our little sorrows as well as our little joys, but through working together, through each and every one of us pulling his weight, no matter how lowly or apparently trivial his job, by working, by living, by pulling together as one great family, we stand undaunted. /Pause/ We say goodbye to the old year very soon now, and hail the new, but I say to you, as we stand before these embers, that we carry with us from the old year...things...which will stand us in good stead in the new, and we are not undaunted. /Pause/ Some of you, sitting at your loudspeakers tonight, may sometimes find yourselves wondering whether the little daily hardships, the little daily disappointments, the trials and tribulations which seem continually to dog you are, in the end, worth it. To you I would say one simple thing. Have faith. /Pause/ Yes, I think if I were asked to convey to you a special message this Christmas it would be that: Have faith. /Pause/ Remember that you are not alone, that we here, for example, in this our home, are inextricably related, one to another, the staff to the understaff, the understaff to the patients, the patients to the staff. Remember this, as you sit by your fires, with your families, who have come from near and from far, to share this day with you, and may you be content.
Text Work: Bartlett's King Charles III with Nike Doukas
The Working Actor's Journey
Nike Doukas from Ep. #6 talks text work on performing contemporary iambic pentameter and verse from Mike Bartlett's King Charles III. You'll hear that Nike brings the same tools that she would to any verse text, classical or modern. There are some wonderful insights she brings to the language of this piece and what you need to be thinking about. Click here for full show notes and links. Get your copy of "12 Top Acting Tips from Season One" See additional content on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.   Nike’s monologue from King Charles III by Mike Bartlett TV PRODUCER This may seem strange, but sometimes I wake up From nightmares where I have been on TV And something’s happened, just by chance, perhaps A light has blown, or chair collapsed, but I Am shocked, and jumping look ridiculous. And then that clip goes viral and from then Forever more, I am the girl who jumped It is the matter of my life, and when I die it will be what is writ, not all I did, and wanted, and achieved, but that: A captured idiocy stuck on repeat. /Enter Charles/ Your Majesty. Welcome. Here’s the microphone Into which you’ll speak, the autocue is there.
Text Work: Mini-Shakespeare Master Class with Dakin Matthews
The Working Actor's Journey
Dakin Matthews is an actor, teacher, and scholar. In this bonus episode you'll hear the mini-Shakespeare master class he gives in episode #12 on one of the speeches from Romeo and Juliet. You'll learn the logic that Juliet uses and how it unravels, where you need to be at the end of the speech if you're performing it, how both male and female actors tend to shy away from emotion, and more. Plus: what do you think of these "classes"? Tell us on Twitter @working_actors or on workingactorsjourney.com. Click here for show notes and more. See additional content on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.   Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Act IV, Scene 3 Farewell! God knows when we shall meet again. I have a faint cold fear thrills through my veins, That almost freezes up the heat of life. I’ll call them back again to comfort me. Nurse!—What should she do here? My dismal scene I needs must act alone. Come, vial. What if this mixture do not work at all? Shall I be married then tomorrow morning? No, no, this shall forbid it. Lie thou there. Laying down her dagger. What if it be a poison which the friar Subtly hath minist’red to have me dead, Lest in this marriage he should be dishonor’d Because he married me before to Romeo? I fear it is, and yet methinks it should not, For he hath still been tried a holy man. How if, when I am laid into the tomb, I wake before the time that Romeo Come to redeem me? There’s a fearful point! Shall I not then be stifled in the vault, To whose foul mouth no healthsome air breathes in, And there die strangled ere my Romeo comes? Or if I live, is it not very like The horrible conceit of death and night, Together with the terror of the place— As in a vault, an ancient receptacle, Where for this many hundred years the bones Of all my buried ancestors are pack’d, Where bloody Tybalt, yet but green in earth, Lies fest’ring in his shroud, where, as they say, At some hours in the night spirits resort— Alack, alack, is it not like that I, So early waking—what with loathsome smells, And shrikes like mandrakes’ torn out of the earth, That living mortals, hearing them, run mad— O, if I wake, shall I not be distraught, Environed with all these hideous fears, And madly play with my forefathers’ joints, And pluck the mangled Tybalt from his shroud, And in this rage, with some great kinsman’s bone, As with a club, dash out my desp’rate brains? O, look! Methinks I see my cousin’s ghost Seeking out Romeo, that did spit his body Upon a rapier’s point. Stay, Tybalt, stay! Romeo, Romeo, Romeo! Here’s drink—I drink to thee.
Text Work: Dickey's The Rembrandt with Francis Guinan
The Working Actor's Journey
Francis Guinan from Ep. #14 talks text work in Jessica Dickey's The Rembrandt, which premiered at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago in 2017 with Francis in the cast, alongside John Mahoney, who many people know as the dad on Frasier (one of my personal favorites), but who was also a longtime Steppenwolf ensemble member. You'll hear how Francis found his way through the text, and the deeper connections between art and the relationship his character has with John's. I was lucky enough to see this production at Steppenwolf and John passed away not long after The Rembrandt closed. It's a great session and a wonderful insight into how an actor works.   Click here for full show notes and links. Get your copy of "12 Top Acting Tips from Season One" See additional content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.   Francis’ monologue from The Rembrandt HENRY I touched it. It was… surprisingly– spiky. The paint. Slashes of ochre and black and white and red. I suddenly thought– Art is such a slight thing. It’s a trick. The closer you get, it recedes, like a shadow. It lives, it glows, and then you touch it and it’s not really there. Or it’s ALL there—Rembrandt. Homer. I touched it all… Well, specifically three of us touched it—myself, this girl Madeline and Dodger. We counted to three, and we touched it. [minor dialogue omitted] I remember my Dad reading in the paper that this Rembrandt had been purchase for 2.3 million– and this was 1961 mind you!–and he turned to me, I was all of FIVE, and he said (ala gruff dad) “Come on Hank, we’re going to see what the hell is worth 2.3 million.” And he dragged me to the exhibit. We stood in front of it, his brow furrowed, the callouses on his hand… There was something about the way he stood there—staring—as if he felt separate—as if it was some Great Thing that would always be just beyond his reach… I never asked him what the thought of it, the painting. If he liked it. If it pleased him. (I’d like to thing it did—that somehow he was—touched by it.) I regret that actually. Terribly. It’s just a slight thing—canvas, paint—and yet it contains—what? Wordls. Truths. I stood there today, and I thought, There is only one of this– in all of time. I touched that fragility and my heard just… [to Simon, sleeping] My love? Are you there? I want you to know. You’ve been a wonderful partner. You have. I have failed you so terribly. So terribly. But I am here now. I’m here.