Classical Acting
Spring 2017
TH 3440 – Classical Acting

Instructor: Bruce Cromer                                                   Classroom: T251 and Festival Playhouse
Office: T148K CA                                                                                              Class Time: MWF 10-11:50
Office Hours: MWF 12-1                         
Phone: 775-2430

Course Objectives: To define and apply methods of analyzing and acting a classical
character; students will study and perform a scenes and a monologue from a Shakespearean
role.  Students will be assigned characters that they might play in their future professional
careers but which might seem currently beyond their instinctual grasp.  For the final weeks of
the course, students will work on scenes from TARTUFFE, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING
EARNEST, or THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL.  Research sources will be used to discuss
appropriate clothing, customs, movement, and manners for the various periods.

Tentative Course Outline:
Most weeks require the reading and viewing of a chapter and video of
PLAYING SHAKESPEARE, with John Barton and members of the Royal Shakespeare Company.  
Watch the videos via YouTube prior to the week in which they’re named.

Week One (January 9, 10, 12):  “The Two Traditions”
Sonnet Due on Friday

Week Two (January 18, 20): “Using the Verse”
Characters and Scene Partners Assigned; First Scene Rehearsed

Week Three (January 23, 25, 27): “Language and Character”
First Scene Rehearsed  

Week Four (January 30, February 1, 3): “Set Speeches and Soliloquies”
First Scene Taped; Plot Synopsis Due on Friday  

Week Five (February 6, 8, 10): “Irony and Ambiguity”  
Second Scene Rehearsed; Textwork Due on Friday  

Week Six (February 13, 15, 17): “Passion and Coolness”  
Second Scene Rehearsed

Week Seven (February 20, 22, 24): “Exploring a Character”
Second Scene Taped; Textwork Due on Friday

SPRING BREAK - February 27 to March 3

Week Eight (March 6, 8, 10): “Rehearsing the Text”
Second Tapings of Scenes and Monologues in Chronological Order

Week Nine (March 13, 15, 17): “Poetry and Hidden Poetry”
Tablework of Moliere, Sheridan, and Wilde Scenes

Week Ten (March 20, 22, 24):   Moliere, Sheridan, and Wilde Scenes Blocked;
Plot Synopsis Due

Week Eleven (March 27, 29, 31):  Moliere, Sheridan, and Wilde Scenes Rehearsed;
17th Century Period Research

Week Twelve (April 3, 5, 7):   Moliere, Sheridan, and Wilde Scenes Rehearsed;
18th Century Period Research

Week Thirteen (April 10, 12, 14):  Moliere, Sheridan, and Wilde Scenes Taped;
19th Century Period Research

Week Fourteen (April 17, 19, 21):  Textwork due on Monday; TBA  

Grading Criteria:  

Professional Skills (Attendance and Attitude) - There are 41 classes in this semester;
missing 9 will earn you an F for the course. There are no excused absences for this course.  Two lates
constitute one absence.  You are expected to be prompt, prepared, and professional in attitude: active
in discussions and exercises, open-minded, quick to take notes and to give opinions, considerate of the
instructor and your peers.  Feedback should be constructive and specific, rather than negative and
general.  Do not sleep, chat, or eat in class.  Turn off all cellphones, etc., unless the instructor gives you
permission to access the internet for a specific exercise or discussion.

Written Work (Six written assignments will be due) -
1) Personal Sonnet - Following the sonnet form in terms of meter and rhymes, you will write your own
sonnet, exploring the technical form and demands Shakespeare mastered.

2 and 3) Plot Synopses - Three pages in length, typed (12 point font) and single-spaced, these
synopses be relatively brief, scene-by-scene summaries of the plot, in your own words, of your assigned
Shakespearean play and your assigned Moliere, Sheridan, or Wilde script.  This is not a shared
assignment.  Work independently of your classmates and the internet, etc.

4 and 5)
Textwork for Scenes and Monologue - Copies of your legibly scored text: scanned and broken
into beats (noting objectives, obstacles, and tactics in the margins).

6) You will find six research resources (web-sites) on the internet for the Period Style of your Moliere,
Sheridan, or Wilde scene --- and present your findings for general discussion and exploration.  This is
an individual, not shared assignment; don’t help your classmates or ask for their help.

Written work will be graded on spelling, grammar, clarity, and content.  Late papers will be down-graded
per day past due.

Acting -
You will be subjectively graded on the demonstrated skills in your scene-work: clarity of speech, tactical
use of language, commitment to the character's circumstances, transformational abilities, memorization
of lines, and ensemble work.  Appropriate rehearsal clothing/costuming should be worn for each scene,
with props.   

Required Texts:
A complete volume of Shakespeare's plays.  
A foot-noted edition of your selected play(s).  (Could be in your complete works.)
TARTUFFE, by Moliere (translated by Richard Wilbur).
THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL, by Richard Brinsley Sheridan.

Recommended Books:
COMPLETE WORKS, by Shakespeare (Contemporary Pub. Co.).
RIVERSIDE SHAKESPEARE, published by Houghton Mifflin.
SHAKESPEARE’S WORDS, by David and Ben Crystal.
SHAKESPEARE ALIVE!, BY Joseph Papp and Elizabeth Kirkland.


Professional Skills (51 possible points)
Attendance (41 possible points; 1 pt. for each class punctually attended; .5 pt. for each time you’re late,
improperly dressed, or inactive; there are no excused absences for this class --- missing 9 classes, for
what ever reasons, will result in an F for the course!)

Attitude (10 possible points; up to 5 possible for each area):
Positive (open-minded, ready to receive criticism, supportive of classmates)
Prepared (assignments completed, properly dressed, healthy and ready to work)

Written Work (20 possible points)
Sonnet (3 pts.), Play Synopses (8 pts.), First Scene Textwork (3 pts.), Second Scene Textwork (3 pts.),
Period Research Resources (3 pts.)

Acting Work (19 possible points)
(6 points for each of the final showings/tapings of your scenes and monologue)

Total Points for Course and Letter Grade
(90-100 pts. = A, 80-89 pts. = B, 70-79 pts. = C, 60-69 pts. = D, 59 pts. or less = F)
John Barton
circa 2005
Sonnet XXX ( / = strong stress, x = weak stress)
Remember, this is simply how I'd scan it; how would you say it?

/     x              x    /       x      x       /        /     x    /        a trochee, an iamb, a pyrrhic, a spondee, and an iamb
When to  | the ses|sions of | sweet si|lent

x    /      x     /      x   /          x      x        /        /             three iambs, a pyrrhic, then a spondee       
I sum|mon up | remem|brance of | things

x   /        x     /       x     /    x  x   /       x    /                   three iambs, an anapest, then an iamb
I sigh | the lack | of man|y a thing | I

x     /           /      /           /      /       x      /        /          /       an iamb, two spondees, an iamb, then a spondee
And with | old woes | new wail | my dear | time's

/      x      x     /         x   /         x    /        x    /                     a trochee, followed by four iambs
Then can | I drown | an eye, | unused | to

x     /       x         /           /   x         /          /      x       /         two iambs, a trochee, a spondee, then an iamb
For pre|cious friends | hid in | death's date|less

x      /        x   /          /         /          x      /        x      /        two iambs, a spondee, then two iambs
And weep | afresh | love's long | since can|cell'd

x      /            x       /         x     /    x  x  /      x       /              three iambs, an anapest, then an iamb
And moan | th'expense | of man|y a van|ish'd

/       x       x     /        x    /      x   x        x     /             a trochee, two iambs, a spondee, then an iamb
Then can | I grieve | at grie|vances | fore

x      /    x x      x     /        x    /        /     /                    an iamb, a pyrrhic, two iambs, then a spondee
And hea|vily | from woe | to woe | tell

x      /       x     /        x   /        x   /      x       /             the first truly iambic pentameter line!!!
The sad | account | of fore|-bemoa|ned

x    /       /     /       x  x      /      /       x   /                    an iamb, a spondee, a pyrrhic, a spondee, then an iamb
Which I | new pay | as if | not paid | be

x   /     x     /        x   /        x     /          /       /             four iambs, then a spondee
But if | the while | I think | on thee, | dear

/    /     x     x        x    /          x      /      x       /            a spondee, a pyrrhic, then three iambs
All los|ses are | restored | and sor|rows

Jonathan Bate (2009) -
Professor of Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature at the University of Warwick and a Governor of the Royal
Shakespeare Company

Regarding Punctuation in Shakespeare's Age:
It's a very complicated question, the punctuating of Shakespeare. What we've got to remember is that punctuation in
Shakespeare's time was left to the printer. We have one scene in Shakespeare's handwriting, the scene he contributed
to the multi-author play
Sir Thomas More and there's hardly any punctuation in that. So when Shakespeare wrote there
was hardly any punctuation. And that's true if you look at fragments from other dramatic manuscripts from the period,
there's hardly any punctuation.

So the punctuation in the early printed texts came from the printer, and the rules of punctuation were very different in
Shakespeare's time. Punctuation some ways it was more rhetorical, it was more to do with the shape of the
argument than grammatical. So modernising Shakespeare's punctuation is always going to be a kind of compromise
between how punctuation worked in the original texts, how students and readers use it now, and how actors use it. And
indeed one of the exercises that directors often do with actors in working on a Shakespearean scene is they'll strip all
the punctuation out and get the actors to find the punctuation in the rehearsal room.

Sonnets from 2017 Class (in perfectly iambic pentameter?)

The One, by Danielle Bessler

When I see couples laughing and in love,
I wonder how she acted to win him.
Why hasn't someone thought of me enough?
To crave my presence not act on a whim.

Is something missing from my heart you want?
When will I know he is the one to choose?
For every guy I meet is nonchalant.
I don't know who to trust they've left a bruise.

I've lost my hope because they've hurt me so.
I fear I won't know love when it's revealed.
At night I feel unwanted and alone,
Please give me strength to trust and make me healed.

I pray he'll be a man who worships you.
I guess I'll have to wait and trust in you.

The Baker’s Wife, by Eli Davis

The usual order: six with maple glaze.
I thrust my money down, your eyes meet mine,
You give my change, my heart with passion ablaze,
It’s $5.08, (tho’I wish ’t’were six and nine)

While I take my half doz’n in my sack,
These doughy nuts I see inside your mouth,
My hands upon those buns you have in back,
And sweet cream pies we make as things go south,

Your apron tossed aside, still nak’d we sweat,
As now, with heat, the sweetest love we bake.
When all is done, your muffin’s sopping wet,
Though batches more to bake b‘fore morrow wakes.

But now these sordid thoughts away I tuck,
My dear, I swear in dreams tonight we’ll fuck.

By Zach Fretag

Amidst the silence of my sadness breaks
The groaning of my stomach's mating call.
To heal this pain my mind, an action makes:
I must find grub, and I must have it all.

The time has come for action to be quick
For anger's born out of my Tum's neglect.
A fight with famished me; unwise to pick
But lovers' gifts of food, I'll ne'er reject.

Before me lies a sea of tasty choice
And who knows which banquet could be my last.
To nourish is one of God's righteous joys,
So no longer shall I allow this fast.

I glance inside my big white fridge and say:
Fuck it, I'm going to Chipotle.

The Coffee to Me , by Natalie Girard

Coffee to me is a way to start life.  
It brings me joy and happiness all day.
Without it there it cuts me like a knife.
Without it there I am sure I’d go cray.

When it hits my tongue I feel warm inside.
That jolt of energy I can’t deny,
Makes me jump around I must confide.
Coffee, not redbull, is what makes me fly.

What would I do for a good cup of joe?  
Oh, what would I do for that dark bean brew?
Just ask me on a Monday morn’ to know.  
My eyes delight in its dark cocoa hue.

The java is the best way to ignite.
It sets my soul a flame to burn so bright.  

Ma’ Kingdom Come , by Kyle Krichbaum

It was His plan, or so I have been told;
Not one knew if it could be so well.
He bought, He flew, He did so to be bold.
Cuz when before he tried it seemed to gel.

Boom here, boom there. Things came to be a sight.
When done, high talks of history was made.
Gates unleashed they went in without a fright.
For there they saw the magic and pa’rade.

“What is this place?” One asked, through their great gasp.
It is the thing I need now most of all.
For there I can relax, be free, unclasp.
Run through such places as the castle’s hall.

My Aprils near and then I’ll be uncurled
For then and there I’ll see my Disney World.

Sonnet, by Kyle Miller

Is it You? Dripping with sweet mystery,
I know You, yet discovery awaits.
Hands tingle, breath's alive: new history,
Puzzling questions are opening gates.

As lips part, I hear my words resounding,
One glance to you, I see you start to shine.
I gaze in wonder, your eyes responding.
What will you share? I search for any sign.

You take my hand and blush sweet-red roses,
And share a tale so wonderful I tear.
From your words, I now know true what prose is.
Your yesterdays and mine are not to fear.

With so much to learn and secrets to bare,
Do you want to play the game: Truth or Dare?

Fuck Sonnets, by Kyle Sell

From mind to paper silent bombs destroy
The thoughts my soul keeps crying out, "Express!"
So early on I lost all ties to joy,
Instead now battens holding down distress.

I look now, back on tortured times long past
For information, key that may unlock
An answer, clue, or any hold to grasp
Why writing steals such time from mister clock.

You'd think a hundred-twenty minutes tim'd
Suffice to stir me up a sonnet, fair,
But no! a lapse is clear tween hand and mind,
Now twelve unfinished sonnets gasp for air.

I know, down deep, inside a writer lurks
Though, pen and paper never really works.

Late Night Walks, by Alejandria Solis

I know not from where my love for you stems.
When darkness falls, I look to you for light.
Illuminating life with eyes like gems;
Humbling me with mystery and might.

I’m powerless to your endless embrace.
You captivate; I learn from all you teach.
There’s more to you than lies upon your face,
Encouraging to search beyond my reach.

Why must you keep so secretly my love?
A cloudy view of you is all I get.
Yet, I find peace in your wide worlds above.
I don’t need answers to all questions yet.

When I feel alone I’ll look to you-
The stars and all beyond my points of view.

Unwanted Christmas Gift, by Phillip Stock

This Christmas I got an unwanted gift.
I did not like it, it was not yummy.
I was not happy, in fact I was miff'd
To notice my enlarg'd Christmas tummy.

"How could this happen?" I chastised myself.
I thought I had been good over this break,
"Not so!" said my running shoes on the shelf,
Remember'd too, my huge slices of cake.

"This blows," said I, now feeling very fat.
Without some work, I'll soon have a dad bod.
I gathered my wits, I'll have none of that.
After working out, I won't feel so odd.

I chose follow through on this same whim,
And guiltily headed straight for the gym.

Ode to Mary Jane, by Cody Westbrook

When I am all alone in bed at night
I find one thought that leads me to sweet sleep.
It rings and sooth, flying up so very high,
Contributes to my every want and need.

With all the food within my reaching grasp
Contributes to the snarling, snaking flume
I take a gasp, inhale and let it pass
But the smoke smells strange, like foreign perfume.

The air around me fills with green delight
As food abundant disappears before my eyes.
A single thought ponders heavily on my mind
But the smoke always tantalizes me back to life.

I promise not I am not stoned in class
But after this, the green will kick my ass.

Sonnets from the 2015 Class (in perfectly iambic pentameter!)

Cannot I Memorize These Words, by Jordan Adams
cannot I memorize these words today
for they are not of interest to me
I do not want to hear the words you say
I would prefer to sleep in bed in peace
I don't much care for what goes on in class
I would prefer to just look at the girls
and yes that means I'm looking at their ass
there's not much guilty feeling in my world
I cannot help that I'm the only straight
it isn't easy being so you know
I do not always do well with the gays
they all say that I am a homphobe
I trust you know I don't mean to offend
my poem is now over it's the end

Forgive Me, by Jasmine Easler
When Night awakes and creeps 'longside the clouds,
Sweet Earth, you welcome it with open arms.
You hold its hov'ring darkness over crowds.
It suffocates, but yet it does no harm.
The thickening of blackness muffles cries,
For who could hear while all are fast asleep?
Deceitfulness is what I do despise,
And Night has yet to keep its word with me.
When will my weary mind be met with rest?
Why must I live here plagued by restless thoughts?
While on my back with hands against my breast,
I fight to shed the sin that once I sought.
To God I pray: Keep me another night,
And teach me to be pleasing in your sight.

In the Now, by Keaton Eckhoff
when I approach the Stage it seems I fear
what happens if I ever would get hurt
would people love me, who I hold so dear
or would they leave me or treat me like dirt
That's why I try to be the best I can
when I am learning all of my own track
and when I see it's time to be a man
and on my break will not eat any snacks
but still it's up to fate to choose for me
The grace of God is only up to Him
but maybe one day I will hold the key
when all the lights around me start to dim
until that day I will be in the now
and I will do what must be done somehow

The Truth About Rabbits (The Legend of Remus), by Emsie Hapner
O'er bags and shoes you hop with lofty ease.
Through gates and doors you lilt 'cross unopposed.
Your ears are soft, your eyes sweet brown.  Ah me!
If blind, the dread within's left unexposed.
For hid beneath that fur of smokey grey
Lay horrors gruesome grim enough to kill
Your eyes once charming, now invoke dismay,
For naught but evil things remain there still.
Your name is rabbit, but do not be dup'd
For just as apt might be Great Beelzebub.
With glinting talon, pointed tooth you swoop'd
Took mine own cherished friend Sir Cuddly Cug
Despair I shan't let overcome my soul
For days will pass, sweet judgement's bell will toll.