|TH 3440 – Classical Acting
Instructor: Bruce Cromer Classroom: M274 and Festival Playhouse
Office: T148K CA Class Time: MWF 10-11:50
Office Hours: MWTHF 12-1
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 12, 14, 16): “The Two Traditions”
Sonnet Due on Friday
Week Two (January 21, 23): “Using the Verse”
Characters and Scene Partners Assigned; First Scene Rehearsed
Week Three (January 26, 28, 30): “Language and Character”
First Scene Rehearsed
Week Four (February 2, 4, 6): “Set Speeches and Soliloquies”
First Scene Taped; Plot Synopsis Due on Friday
Week Five (February 9, 11, 13): “Irony and Ambiguity”
Second Scene Rehearsed; Textwork Due on Friday
Week Six (February 16, 18, 20): “Passion and Coolness”
Second Scene Rehearsed
Week Seven (February 23, 25, 27): “Exploring a Character”
Second Scene Taped; Textwork Due on Friday
Week Eight (March 9, 11, 13): “Rehearsing the Text”
Second Tapings of Scenes and Monologues in Chronological Order
Week Nine (March 16, 18, 20): “Poetry and Hidden Poetry”
Tablework of Moliere, Sheridan, and Wilde Scenes
Week Ten (March 23, 25, 27): Moliere, Sheridan, and Wilde Scenes Blocked;
Plot Synopsis Due
Week Eleven (March 30, April 1, 3): Moliere, Sheridan, and Wilde Scenes Rehearsed;
17th Century Period Research
Week Twelve (April 6, 8, 10): Moliere, Sheridan, and Wilde Scenes Rehearsed;
18th Century Period Research
Week Thirteen (April 13, 15, 17): Moliere, Sheridan, and Wilde Scenes Taped;
19th Century Period Research
Week Fourteen (April 20, 22, 24): Textwork due on Monday; TBA
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.
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,
PLAYING SHAKESPEARE, by John Barton.
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.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST, by Oscar Wilde.
ACTING IN SHAKESPEARE, by Robert Cohen.
THE FRIENDLY SHAKESPEARE, by Norrie Epstein.
APPLAUSE FIRST FOLIO IN MODERN TYPE.
COMPLETE WORKS, by Shakespeare (Contemporary Pub. Co.).
RIVERSIDE SHAKESPEARE, published by Houghton Mifflin.
SHAKESPEARE’S WORDS, by David and Ben Crystal.
SHAKESPEARE’S METRIC ART, by George T. Wright.
SHAKESPEARE ALIVE!, BY Joseph Papp and Elizabeth Kirkland.
CHRONICLE OF WESTERN FASHION, by John Peacock.
HIGH FASHION IN SHAKESPEARE’S TIME, by Andrew Brownfoot.
SHAKESPEARE ALOUD, by E.S. Brubaker.
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)
|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 thought
x / x / x / x x / / three iambs, a pyrrhic, then a spondee
I sum|mon up | remem|brance of | things past,
x / x / x / x x / x / three iambs, an anapest, then an iamb
I sigh | the lack | of man|y a thing | I sought,
x / / / / / x / / / an iamb, two spondees, an iamb, then a spondee
And with | old woes | new wail | my dear | time's waste:
/ x x / x / x / x / a trochee, followed by four iambs
Then can | I drown | an eye, | unused | to flow,
x / x / / x / / x / two iambs, a trochee, a spondee, then an iamb
For pre|cious friends | hid in | death's date|less night,
x / x / / / x / x / two iambs, a spondee, then two iambs
And weep | afresh | love's long | since can|cell'd woe,
x / x / x / x x / x / three iambs, an anapest, then an iamb
And moan | th'expense | of man|y a van|ish'd sight:
/ x x / x / x x x / a trochee, two iambs, a spondee, then an iamb
Then can | I grieve | at grie|vances | foregone,
x / x x x / x / / / an iamb, a pyrrhic, two iambs, then a spondee
And hea|vily | from woe | to woe | tell o'er
x / x / x / x / x / the first truly iambic pentameter line!!!
The sad | account | of fore|-bemoa|ned moan,
x / / / x x / / x / an iamb, a spondee, a pyrrhic, a spondee, then an iamb
Which I | new pay | as if | not paid | before.
x / x / x / x / / / four iambs, then a spondee
But if | the while | I think | on thee, | dear friend,
/ / x x x / x / x / a spondee, a pyrrhic, then three iambs
All los|ses are | restored | and sor|rows end.
Jonathan Bate (2009) -
Professor of Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature at the University of Warwick and a Governor of the Royal
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 was...in 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 the 2015 Class
(in perfectly iambic pentameter!)