Whispers from the Wings

All the Other Stuff

February 20, 2014

Saturday morning returns queue for Wolf HallWhat I find utterly fulfilling about being a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company isn't just the dressing up and strutting around on stage speaking loudly without fear of interruption, it's all the other stuff that one can get involved in.

Maddy Hyland organised a reading of The Winter's Tale in her room — fondly dubbed The Jazz Cabinet — on Sunday. It was a great chance to explore a remarkable play in which I found Laertes' speeches surprisingly tricky to deliver.

Shakespeare is much more free with his versification by now, with the sense of what characters say running clear through the line breaks (enjambment). There's a new trick he also employs with demanding frequency whereby the syntax is continually broken as the speech branches off to qualify or expand the argument. This rhetorical device, called aposiopesis, drives the action with a demented impetus at times, but it's a nightmare to sight-read.

I saw the same technique in the speeches from Sir Thomas More that I was asked to read in a benefit recital at The Shakespeare Institute. This was the key material that our masterful bard was contributed to a collaborative text that was, sadly, never actually performed by the King's Men — probably because Shakespeare's bits were a bit too politically hot to handle.

It was fascinating to be in the Institute building where the celebrated Marie Corelli (vide Part One of my book On Bard Duty) made her home and lived her somewhat sensational life.

Olivia Darnley, of our spirited company, decided to organise a quasi-Come-Dine-with-Me thing. Turns out that organising the twelve actors who signed up to take part was more like herding ten times as many cats but, imbued with enthusiasm, I hosted what I hoped would turn out to be the first of a series of plenary prandials.

I cooked curries (for that is how I made my reputation on This Morning a hundred years ago) served on the local Poundshop's entire stock of one pound thalis. Great night in great company. I'm still drinking the left-over beer.

So you see, there's no way one need be bored serving one's sentence here. You may have already gathered that I think the quality and variety of the many excellent pubs around here make the weekends pretty special, too.

And still to come . . .
In the coming week Giles Taylor will be delivering a workshop on finding clues in Shakespeare's verse. And then at the beginning of March another recital. And then, and then . . .

. . . we will be going to London with our remarkable shows. I can't say when and I can't say where just at the moment . . . but we WILL be going. That's official. How exciting!

Photo: The queue for returns on Saturday morning. This must be a hit.

by Nick Day  |  3 comments

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Feb 26, 6:13pm

Enjoyable read but I think you'll find Leontes is in The Winter's Tale.

Feb 27, 2:51pm
RSC Staff Nick Day

Woops. I blame spellcheck!

Mar 1, 10:06am
robin lenaghan

How pedantic. I apologise. The green eyed monster is at work as I read of your time in and around Stratford. I will follow with envy and interest. Regards.

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Teaching Shakespeare