|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!)
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
Sonnet II, by Kristina Hopkins
There was a time when I would spend the day
Without a ceiling overtop my head
I had the room to run, the time to play
I never had a reason to feel dread
Too soon there came a day when all would end
When freedom turned into a locked cell
Inside the days and months began to blend
And agitation rose as all hope fell
At times a monster comes to visit me
That demon that keeps me trapped in this place
But other days, a friend I get to see
Who gifts me love and helps my spirit race
And so, alas, I pray again to see
A life back home where my heart can run free
Unexpected School-day, by Nicholas McQuillen
I wake to see the sky of Dayton gray
And I do not want to rise from my bed.
The time has come to start a brand-new day
Alas, I may roll-over and play dead.
I know I have so many things to do
But there's no way, I simply must resign.
Why can't some winter weather just pass through?
A snowy storm would solve my problems fine.
The time has come that now I must decide,
A minute more and I know I'll be late.
There's not a flake or bit of ice outside.
It seems that I can not avoid my fate.
I race to get myself prepared for school
I realize then, it's Sunday, I'm a fool.
A Sonnet for Jackson, by Jim Miller
When loneliness doth strike I do desire
To feel your soft touch on my tender skin
And run through fields with you till I perspire
But hark! Your sweet bark sounds not in Dayton
I wish to see you hop around my floor
With boisterous aire that inundates with cheer
To was away all sadness out the door
And dissipate my foolish New Year's fear
Yet Lo! More sentimental do I grow
Each night without my newfound puppy's treat
And with each recollection tears doth flow
To flood my soul with mem'ries bittersweet
But solace can I find that at Spring's end
We'll share the love that comes from Man's best friend
Sonnet, By Cassi Mikat
Some days when I'm alone, I think too much.
My feelings rise inside me like a flame
I think that love is something I won't clutch
For those I love will never feel the same
I may see just a glimpse of love from him,
But quickly he will find another girl
And though I put myself out on a limb,
He gives me hope, then kills it in a whirl.
After time, a new man I will find,
Who seems so sweet and loves me, I can tell.
But from our passion, swiftly, he resigned.
I sit alone and let frustration swell.
But I can let it go and wipe my tears
And wait until the day that he appears.
Papa Vinny John's Hut, by Katie Momenee
Yes I my dear shall miss you o'er and o'er
And miss the sweet and graceful way you lie.
No memory of mine shall haunt me more
It hurts me now to think I'd say goodbye
Your friendship naught has ever missed a toast
Your glowing beauty made me love you so
And thine aroma you could surely boast
But ah, alas you fill me up with woe.
For on the surface you could do no wrong
And even though I knew you were no good
I'm sad to say, must cut you out for long
You selfish bastard, mine own favorite food.
For now it's come to pass I can for naught
Eat pizza e'er again. Oh woe the thought!
True Loves Kiss, by Tyler Simms
The sweetest kiss is when my lips touch yours.
So soft and bitter-sweet, I can't compare.
For in that moment I forget all whores
Both past and present that have seen me bare.
Majestic is your figure, clothed and not,
So dark and smooth I tremor at the touch.
And when I peel that layer I get hot
To stick it in and grasp you in my clutch.
I know that soon we will be joined in one.
The sounds you make are music to my ears.
Preparing for an ev'ning of much fun.
Then once we're joined you free up all my fears.
OH! How I love thee in thy little glass!
My wine! But please don't put me on my ass.
Sonnet I, by A.S.
For in my childhood I was taught one thing:
to love and play the great ol' past time game.
The song at home I was obliged to sing
Is "Go, Cubs, Go," but one thing still is lame.
You see, there's just one thing about my team;
we never seem to win or have good luck.
The cent'ry with no wins left to redeem;
You'd think Chi-town would scream, "O, what the fuck?"
Alas, I persevere with little hope,
'Cause always losing has a bigger cost.
Until we win, I'll have to sit and cope
Believe me, once we win, I will be lost.
I'll find another fan and take a trip
To see Chicago in the champ'nship.