Speak the Speech! Shakespeare's Monologues Illuminated

Rhona Silverbush and Sami Plotkin

Faber & Faber

0571211224

9780571211227

Trade Paperback

1088 Pages

$40.00

CAD46.00

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Speak the Speech! contains everything an actor needs to select and prepare a Shakespeare monologue for classwork, auditions, or performance. Included herein are more than 150 monologues. Each one is placed in context with a brief introduction, is carefully punctuated in the manner that best illustrates its meaning, and is painstakingly and thoroughly annotated. Each is also accompanied by commentary that will spark the actor's imagination by exploring how the interrelationship of meter and the choice of words and sounds yields clues to character and performance.

Throughout the book, sidebars relate historical, topical, technical, and other useful and entertaining information relevant to the text. In addition, the authors include an overview of poetic and rhetorical elements, brief synopses of all the plays, and a comprehensive index along with other guidelines that will help readers locate the perfect monologue for their needs. More than just a tool for actors, Speak the Speech! is also an entertaining resource that will help demystify Shakespeare's language for the student.

REVIEWS

Praise for Speak the Speech!

"Although I know Speak the Speech! is intended to be 'an actor's tool kit,' I have found it abundantly helpful as I teach my Shakespeare literature class this semester. The analysis and explication of speeches from As You Like It, Richard II and Henry IV have been a godsend as I work to have Shakespeare's characters jump off the page and live in the imaginations of my students. I am also thrilled to be able to refer students in my Audition Techniques class to the book as they struggle with developing classical audition monologues. The wonder of this text is that it offers textual illumination of familiar passages for seasoned actors and scholars, and is at the same time written in a manner that is immediately accessible beginners. I look forward with excitement to using this book in coming semesters as I teach my classes in acting Shakespeare."—Cynthia Dillon, Associate Professor, Theatre Arts, New Mexico State University

"Speak the Speech! is quite the most detailed introduction to the delights of Shakespeare that I have ever read. Equally useful to the enthusiastic amateur or the dedicated professional, it is a must for any college and worth a place in any private library. Many congratulations."—Terry Hands, Artistic Director Emeritus, The Royal Shakespeare Company

"I celebrate all things that demystify Shakespeare so that artists and audiences alike can breathe and live inside his wondrous words. Speak the Speech! does just that. It is a great resource not just for actors but for anyone who loves the Bard."—George C. Wolfe, Producer, The Joseph Papp Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival

"Speak the Speech! is wonderful, probably the best book I've seen on the monologues. I think every acting student should have a copy of it on their bookshelf. I recommend it highly and with enthusiasm."—Judith Patterson, President/CEO, U.S. Performing Arts

"Speak the Speech! is a remarkable tool, in that it provides all sorts of important commentary and analysis laid out in an extremely clear and succinct manner. It is rich with insightful and sensitive analysis of the texts, their events, language and characters, it is well thought out and elegantly styled, and while being educational, it is also easy to use, and perhaps most importantly, entertaining . . . I will be sure to use this book as my classroom textbook, and will require all my students to purchase it."—Des Gallant, Literary Manager, Florida Stage and Vice President of Development, Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA)

"Speak the Speech! combines extensive, concise, fascinating research with commonsense acting tips. It's a great reference for any actor."—Michael Murray, Director of Theater Arts, Brandeis University

"A fabulous book, gloriously packed with information."—Sir Derek Jacobi

"For the actor looking to find in one collection a comprehensive selection of Shakespeare's monologues, Speak the Speech! is a rich and comprehensive resource."—Jeffrey Horowitz, Artistic Director, Theatre for a New Audience

"An enormously useful tool for auditioning actors who are not fully acquainted with the contexts of their audition pieces. Extensive textual footnotes and a summary of the plot and character qualities provide a shortcut that may give added depth and life to an audition."—Tina Packer, Artistic Director, Shakespeare & Company

"No other volume treating Shakespeare's monologues is as complete as this one."—Library Journal

"Knowledgeable . . . Silverbush and Plotkin offer a brief context for each monologue, explain the unfamiliar vocabulary and expressions, examine the relationship between mood and meter and even remind readers what words to elide or expand. Boxed asides offer historical background and describe literary controversies over various lines and passages."—Publishers Weekly

"A compendium of information illuminating the monologues and providing actors and non-actors with insights and fascinating bits of information about every one of Shakespeare’s known plays . . . Stuffed with useful information: from actors’ tips on presentation and meter, the rhythm and rhyme of the lines of the monologues, to detailed definitions of words and phrases, to notes or 'factoids' as the authors like to call them, on the contemporary significance of words, phrases, and concepts, factoids on the social, political, and cultural history behind much of the plays’ material. Even the extensive footnotes are fascinating. Most everything is presented in 21st century English with humor never far from the surface . . . Any English teacher or student of English literature would benefit from exposure to this book. Everyone who has or thinks that they would like to have an interest in Shakespeare would benefit from reading or just browsing through this book. The authors’ synopsis of each of the plays at the back of the book is alone worth the price of this volume."—Anthony Omer, Martha's Vineyard Times

"Silverbush and Plotkin have assembled a mighty resource for actors preparing Shakespeare monologues for classes or auditions. The authors deliver cohesively organized entries that help users select monologues and cogently written commentaries that aid comprehension and profile variant interpretive treatments of the speeches. The volume includes 148 prose and blank verse speeches—at least one example from each of Shakespeare's 37 plays appears, and almost half are monologue options for women. Each monologue is accompanied by expansive apparatus providing tips ranging from how frequently the monologue turns up in auditions, to annotation clarifying meaning of obscure words and strange syntax, to pointers on interpretive tactics actors can employ, to guidance on 'significant scans.' The book's content also embraces techniques for analyzing Shakespeare's text, a capsule discussion of Shakespeare's world, and plot synopses for all plays . . . This remarkable volume will indeed serve as an informative and user-friendly 'tool kit' for actors. Teachers will wish to consider it for course adoption. Summing up: Highly recommended."—P.D. Nelsen, Marlboro College, Choice

Table of Contents

Note: Although the monologues and synopses of the Comedies, Problem Plays, Tragedies, and Romances are grouped by genre and presented alphabetically, the monologues and synopses of the Histories are presented in the chronological order in which the events of the plays actually occurred, because each play is easier to understand in light of the events of the plays that precede it.

Prologue: Why We Wrote This Book
Acknowledgments
The Play’s the Thing
Choosing a Monologue
What Is This Stuff?
Why Bother?
Cracking the Code
Verse-atility
A Leg Up on Feet: The Basic Variations
Additional Variations: Headless Feet and Other Oddities
Making the Shoe Fit the Foot
We Come to Praise Caesura, Not to Bury It
Rhetoric-poetic and Otherwise
A Reason to Rhyme
Crossing the Sound Barrier
Imagery: “On Your Imaginary Forces Work”
Rhetorically Speaking
This Earth, This Realm, This England: Shakespeare’s Life and Times
What’s Past is Prologue: England in Shakespeare’s Time
Within This Wooden O: Theatre in Shakespeare’s Time
One Man In His Time Plays Many Parts: The Bard’s Bio, In Brief
The Lowdown on Punctuation, Spelling, Annotation, Commentary, and Line Numbering

Monologues

The Histories

King John
Philip the Bastard (Act I, Scene i)
Philip the Bastard (Act II, Scene i)
Constance (Act III, Scene i)
Constance (Act III, Scene iv)
Constance (Act III, Scene iv)
Lewis (Act V, Scene ii)
Philip the Bastard (Act V, Scene ii)

Richard II
Duchess of Gloucester (Act I, Scene ii)
John of Gaunt (Act II, Scene i)
King Richard (Act III, Scene ii)
King Richard (Act III, Scene iii)
Bishop of Carlisle (Act IV, Scene i)

Henry IV, Part One
Hotspur (Act I, Scene iii)
Hotspur (Act II, Scene iii)
Falstaff (Act V, Scene i)

Henry IV, Part Two
Mistress Quickly (Act II, Scene i)
Lady Percy (Act II, Scene iii)
King Henry IV (Act III, Scene i)
Falstaff (Act IV, Scene iii)
Prince Hal (Act IV, Scene v)

Henry V
Chorus (Prologue)
King Henry V (Act I, Scene ii)
King Henry V (Act IV, Scene iii)
King Henry V (Act V, Scene ii)

Henry VI, Part One
Joan la Pucelle (Act V, Scene iii)

Henry VI, Part Two
Queen Margaret (Act I, Scene iii)
Eleanor (Act II, Scene iv)

Henry VI, Part Three
Queen Margaret (Act I, Scene iv)
Richard, Duke of York (Act I, Scene iv)
King Henry VI (Act II, Scene v)

Richard III
Richard (Act I, Scene i)
Lady Anne (Act I, Scene ii)
Richard (Act I, Scene ii)
King Edward IV (Act II, Scene i)
Lady Anne (Act IV, Scene i)
Margaret (Act IV, Scene iv)
King Richard (Act V, Scene iii)

Henry VIII
Queen Katherine (Act II, Scene iv)

Genealogical Charts

The Comedies

As You Like It
Duke Senior (Act II, Scene i)

af2 Jaques (Act II, Scene vii)
Phebe (Act III, Scene v)
Rosalind (Act III, Scene v)
Phebe (Act III, Scene v)

The Comedy of Errors
Adriana (Act II, Scene ii)
Luciana (Act III, Scene ii)

Love’s Labour’s Lost
Berowne (Act V, Scene ii)

The Merchant of Venice
Shylock (Act I, Scene iii)
Launcelot Gobbo (Act II, Scene ii)
Shylock (Act III, Scene i)
Portia (Act III, Scene iv)
Portia (Act IV, Scene i)

The Merry Wives of Windsor
Mistress Page (Act II, Scene i)
Falstaff (Act III, Scene v)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Theseus (Act I, Scene i)
Lysander (Act I, Scene i)
Helena (Act I, Scene i)
Helena (Act I, Scene i)
Titania (Act II, Scene i)
Oberon (Act II, Scene i)
Puck (Act III, Scene ii)
Bottom (Act IV, Scene i)
Snug (Act V, Scene i)

Much Ado About Nothing
Benedick (Act II, Scene iii)
Benedick (Act II, Scene iii)

The Taming of the Shrew
Petruchio (Act IV, Scene i)

Twelfth Night
Orsino (Act I, Scene i)
Viola (Act II, Scene ii)
Malvolio (Act II, Scene v)
Olivia (Act III, Scene i)

The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Julia (Act I, Scene ii)
Launce (Act II, Scene iii)
Launce (Act IV, Scene iv)
Julia (Act IV, Scene iv)

The Problem Plays

All’s Well That Ends Well
Helena (Act III, Scene ii)

Measure for Measure
Isabella (Act II, Scene ii)

qlClaudio (Act III, Scene i)

Troilus and Cressida
Ulysses (Act I, Scene iii)
Cressida (Act III, Scene ii)

The Tragedies

Antony and Cleopatra
Cleopatra (Act I, Scene v)
Enobarbus (Act II, Scene ii)
Cleopatra (Act IV, Scene xv)
Cleopatra (Act V, Scene ii)
Cleopatra (Act V, Scene ii)
Cleopatra (Act V, Scene ii)

Coriolanus
Menenius (Act II, Scene i)
Coriolanus (Act IV, Scene v)
Aufidius (Act IV, Scene v)
Volumnia (Act V, Scene iii)

Hamlet
Hamlet (Act I, Scene ii)
Polonius (Act I, Scene iii)
Ophelia (Act II, Scene i)
Polonius (Act II, Scene ii)
Hamlet (Act II, Scene ii)
Hamlet (Act III, Scene i)
Ophelia (Act III, Scene i)
Hamlet (Act III, Scene ii)
King Claudius (Act III, Scene iii)
Hamlet (Act III, Scene iii)
Gertrude (Act IV, Scene vii)

Julius Caesar
Cassius (Act I, Scene ii)
Brutus (Act II, Scene i)
Portia (Act II, Scene i)
Calphurnia (Act II, Scene ii)
Antony (Act III, Scene i)
Brutus (Act III, Scene ii)
Antony (Act III, Scene ii)
Antony (Act III, Scene ii)

King Lear
Edmund (Act I, Scene ii)
Edmund (Act I, Scene ii)
Goneril (Act I, Scene iv)
King Lear (Act II, Scene iv)
King Lear (Act III, Scene ii)
King Lear (Act III, Scene iv)

Macbeth
Lady Macbeth (Act I, Scene v)
Lady Macbeth (Act I, Scene v)
Macbeth (Act I, Scene vii)
Lady Macbeth (Act I, Scene vii)
Macbeth (Act II, Scene i)
Porter (Act II, Scene iii)
Macbeth (Act III, Scene i)

Othello
Iago (Act I, Scene i)
Othello (Act I, Scene iii)
Iago (Act I, Scene iii)
Emilia (Act IV, Scene iii)

Romeo and Juliet
Nurse (Act I, Scene iii)
Mercutio (Act I, Scene iv)
Mercutio (Act II, Scene i)
Romeo (Act II, Scene ii)
Juliet (Act II, Scene ii)
Juliet (Act II, Scene ii)
Juliet (Act II, Scene v)
Juliet (Act III, Scene ii)
Juliet (Act III, Scene ii)
Romeo (Act III, Scene iii)
Friar Lawrence (Act III, Scene iii)
Lord Capulet (Act III, Scene v)
Juliet (Act IV, Scene iii)

Timon of Athens
Timon (Act IV, Scene iii)

Titus Andronicus
Titus Andronicus (Act III, Scene ii)
Aaron (Act IV, Scene ii)

The Romances

Cymbeline
Iachimo (Act II, Scene ii)
Imogen (Act III, Scene ii)
Imogen (Act III, Scene vi)

Pericles
Dionyza (Act IV, Scene iii)

The Tempest
Ariel (Act I, Scene ii)
Trinculo (Act II, Scene ii)
Caliban (Act III, Scene ii)
Prospero (Act IV, Scene i)
Prospero (Act V, Scene i)

The Winter’s Tale
Hermione (Act III, Scene ii)
Paulina (Act III, Scene ii)
Shepherd (Act III, Scene iii)

Synopses

The Histories
King John
Richard II
Henry IV, Part One
Henry IV, Part Two
Henry V
Henry VI, Part One
Henry VI, Part Two
Henry VI, Part Three
Richard III
Henry VIII

The Comedies
As You Like It
The Comedy of Errors
Love’s Labour’s Lost
The Merchant of Venice
The Merry Wives of Windsor
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Much Ado About Nothing
The Taming of the Shrew
Twelfth Night
The Two Gentlemen of Verona

The Problem Plays
All’s Well That Ends Well
Measure for Measure
Troilus and Cressida

The Tragedies
Antony and Cleopatra
Coriolanus
Hamlet
Julius Caesar
King Lear
Macbeth
Othello
Romeo and Juliet
Timon of Athens
Titus Andronicus

The Romances
Cymbeline
Pericles
The Tempest
The Winter’s tale

Glossary of Common Archaic Words, Verb Forms, Elisions, and Contractions

Index to the Monologues

Reviews from Goodreads

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BOOK EXCERPTS

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Speak the Speech!
Monologues 
 
KING JOHNACT I, SCENE iPHILIP THE BASTARDGENDER: M PROSE/VERSE: blank verse AGE RANGE: adult to mature adult FREQUENCY OF USE (1--5) : 2Philip the Bastard has just come up in the world: he and his brother Robert sought King John's arbitration of their dispute over their father's inheritance. Dad left all the land to Robert, in a will that Philip, as the older son, naturally contested. Having realized that Philip is actually the bastard son of the late King Richard I, Queen Elinor has made her grandson an offer he can't refuse: she has just invited
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Rhona Silverbush and Sami Plotkin

  • Rhona Silverbush studied theatre and psychology at Brandeis University and holds a law degree from Boston College Law School. She has acted with regional theatre and Shakespeare companies and has directed and taught drama and Shakespeare. Currently, she coaches professional actors, lectures, writes, and is an adjunct faculty member at Columbia University’s Teachers College. She and her husband live in New York City with their two aging feline divas.

    Sami Plotkin graduated summa cum laude from Brandeis University with a double major in Theatre Arts and English Literature, and honed her stagecraft in London under the tutelage of Royal Shakespeare Company members. She later earned her M.F.A. at Columbia University’s School of the Arts. Sami has performed Shakespeare in the United States and on tour in Europe and the former Soviet Union; she now works as an actor, screenwriter, and playwright. During the hours when the New York Public Library is closed, she lives with her husband in Chelsea.

    The authors were awarded a grant from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation for this book in 1999.
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