Luxembourg European Annual Theatre Summer School

2016 Theme Projects

All the best performers bring to their role something more, something different than what the author put on paper. That's what makes theatre live. That's why it persists.

Stephen Sondheim
(composer and librettist)

Theme Project Work : Shakespeare - What did he ever do for us?


William Shakespeare died in 1616, and even now, 400 years on, his plays are still performed across the globe. The theme options will look at the Bard and beyond, exploring his work as well as various aspects of his influence and legacy.

Many of us are often daunted and deterred by the prospect of performing Shakespeare. His texts are long and complicated and the language, devices and imagery appear incomprehensible. Our experienced tutors will use their knowledge and understanding to demystify the work and make it accessible, leading us to experience the rich human condition he wrote about. His characters fall in and out of love, dislike, betray and misunderstand each other, are angry, sad, happy, jealous, envious, untrustworthy, mistrustful, deceptive, magnanimous and forgiving – experiencing every human emotion and situation.

The projects will also look at some of the ways Shakespeare's influence is still felt such as his inventive use of language, the rediscovery of the bare stage and the focus on great personal moral responsibility. The Barb might be dead, but Long Live the Bard!

There will be two acting courses, one acting and devising course and one musical theatre singing course. Details are still being finalised. We shall however, be looking both at the work of Shakespeare himself (including some of the marvellously written "minor" characters), as well as more modern writers who have been strongly influenced by him. Graeme du Fresne will be joining Janice Dunn's course later in the week for some joint work involving the incorporation of rhythm and soundscapes.

John Barton and Cicely Berry were integral to the success of the Royal Shakespeare Company during its glory days of the 1960's and 70's. We will look at how these two practitioners transformed the actor's approach to Shakespeare and how their teachings are just as relevant to the modern actor. They believed that the actor can find all the clues he/she needs in the text - clues such as enjambment, caesura, alliteration, onomatopoeia, antithesis. We will look at a range of texts - Macbeth, The Winter's Tale, Richard the Third, Twelfth Night, using extracts, speeches and scenes to look at how the modern actor can access Shakespeare text and make it seem as though it was written yesterday.

Our work will attempt to find the simplicity and truth within a Shakespearean text, whilst observing the strict structure, meter, poetic beauty and meaning of the text.
This course will examine and explore how to inhabit the beauty of the language within character development and relationships. We will explore different and inventive ways that ensures that the performance and performer remain honest, truthful and accessible. This course will explore Shakespeare’s use of the monologue, duologue and will endeavour to create a shared ensemble voice.

In this course we will work through rhythm and metre, coupled with character choice, to arrive at a dynamic interpretation of Shakespeare's text.
We will explore the detail and demands of the words, and the possibilities of the characters, in a variety of scenarios.
We will utilize a range of exercises to find a way to 'speak the speech trippingly on the tongue', and allow the structure, rhythm and verse of Shakespeare's texts to work joyfully for us.
There will also be exploration of a variety of Shakespeare's characters, as we develop choices that allow them to hold 'the mirror up to nature'. We will entwine these two strands of work as the week progresses.There will be an examination of soliloquy and rhetoric, as well as duologues. We will also, (utilising Graeme du Fresne), look at deconstructing verse, rhythm and song in Shakespeare.

Helen Ireland: (Singing) SINGING SHAKESPEARE: The Bard With A Beat
Today, there is hardly a performance of any stage play that does not include, at some point, a musical element – be it incidental music, a solo song, a Dennis Potteresque musical reference or a Full-Company four-part harmony rendition of a chorus.  But recognition of the part that incidental music and song can play to enhance theatrical experience is not new: it is a centuries-old tradition, in which Shakespeare was steeped. Right to the current day, writers and composers have used both Shakespeare’s words, plays and themes as starting points for their own creations. They have inspired musicals, (e.g: Kiss Me Kate, The Boys From Syracuse, West Side Story) operas, masques, choral works, ballads, jazz, rap and pop.
We will be working on Musical Theatre songs from Shakespeare-inspired shows and also singing diverse songs which are set to his words.  These will range from unison songs to 3 or 4-part harmony ensemble numbers. Aside from Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hart, and Leonard Bernstein, Howard Goodall may be there; so might George Shearing, Johnny Dankworth, Henry Purcell, Ralph Vaughan Williams and even Bryan Ferry.
This course is aimed at participants with some previous experience of singing.