We asked RSC actors your questions for #RSCHomeworkHelp. Take a look at their answers here.

We received hundreds of questions from students all over the world in 2020 and lots of RSC artists have been answering your #RSCHomeworkHelp questions. We have now closed submissions.  

David Tennant, Paapa Essiedu, Niamh Cusack, David Bradley, David Threlfall, our Artistic Director Gregory Doran and lots of members of RSC alumni and artists have answered some of your questions below.

We've arranged the questions and answers into different headings below, exploring questions about:

  • Acting and directing
  • Shakespeare
  • Comedy plays
  • History plays
  • Tragedy plays

Take a look and see if you can find yours!

Questions about Acting and Directing

  • Does the RSC have preferred editions of the plays to work from?

  • How do you annotate your script, and what character notes do you make?

  • Do you have any advice for actors auditioning for universities?

  • Why and how do productions cut certain lines?

  • How do directors work with actors on characters?

  • How do you put expression into an audio recording of a speech?

  • How do actors learn to work with props?

  • At what point before a performance do you get nervous?

  • What do you think is the best way to show a battle on stage?

  • Is it difficult to know when to be serious and when to have a slightly humorous tone when acting Shakespeare?

  • How do you prepare for a role that you've done over and over?

  • How do you know when there is a good place to pause?

  • What do you most want to see from a director?

  • Do you have any tips for playing unlikeable characters?

  • How do you start rehearsing at the RSC?

  • Has anything ever gone wrong on stage?

  • Do you have any advice for performing on 'Zoom'?

  • Do you have any tips for memorising lines?

  • How do you work on your part outside rehearsal?

  • How do you get invited or chosen to be in a play?

Questions about Shakespeare

  • Did Shakespeare create new words?

  • Which character recurs most in Shakespeare's plays?

  • Why is Shakespeare so important in 2020?

  • If you could create a musical from a Shakespeare play, which play would you use and what music would you use for it?

  • What is your favourite Shakespeare insult?

  • How important is poetic structure and antithesis in performing Shakespeare?

  • Is Shakespeare’s lack of subtext hard for actors?

  • Are female characters dressing as boys ever convincing?

  • Was Shakespeare echoing Elizabethan antisemitism or was it a view he held himself?

  • What are some key clues for analysing Shakespeare?

  • Why was Shakespeare so interested in shipwrecks?

  • Did Shakespeare write in a 'posh' or in a 'popular/colloquial' English of the time?

  • Were some of the love sonnets written to a man?

  • Could it be possible that Shakespeare was a woman?

  • When were Shakespeare's "lost years" and how many sonnets did he write?

  • What is Sonnet 130 about?

  • What inspired Shakespeare's writing?

  • Do you think we sometimes over-analyse the text?

  • Why did Elizabethans believe so strongly in fairies?

  • Do you think Shakespeare’s tragedies are better at conveying lessons than his comedies?

  • What is the meaning of ‘be of good cheer’?

  • Which play was most popular when it was written?

  • Did Shakespeare have a happy childhood? He writes about sad stuff a lot.

  • Did Shakespeare ever write a play and not finish it?

  • What makes Shakespeare different to others, like Webster?

  • What is your understanding of Sonnet 15?

  • How do the actors know what gestures to use?

  • How do you help the audience to understand?

  • How do you approach adapting or 'updating' a play?

  • Which is your favourite Shakespeare play?

  • Why are genders reversed in productions, and does it work?

  • Are Shakespearean roles more difficult than others?

  • Can the language be a barrier?

  • What is iambic pentameter?

Questions about Tragedies

  • What is the time frame for Macbeth?

  • Why should students study Macbeth?

  • What is Hamlet's fatal flaw?

  • Do you have any advice or tips about Julius Caesar?

  • How would you direct the scene where Gloucester's eyes are gouged out to make it as realistic as possible?

  • How do I teach Romeo and Juliet?

  • Why is Macbeth called the Scottish play?

  • How would you approach Macbeth from an Absurdist Theatre point of view?

  • Does Gertrude marry Claudius out of duty, passion or conspiracy?

  • What do you think is the importance of the 'Life is but a shadow' speech after Lady Macbeth's death?

  • Do you think 'guilt' and 'appearance v reality' are themes in Macbeth?

  • Why does Romeo make terrible decisions?

  • Is Macbeth a tragic hero, villain, or victim of fate?

  • Is Iago evil personified?

  • In Romeo and Juliet who is to blame for Mercutio’s death?

  • In Macbeth is it important that the lords meet the English at Birnam Wood?

  • Do you think we misuse "to thine own self be true" as a slogan about authenticity?

  • In Macbeth, is Hecate a character Shakespeare created, and are her lines in a different style?

  • Which colours represent the Capulets and the Montagues; who is red and who is blue?

  • Do you think Claudius and Polonius overhear Hamlet’s famous soliloquy?

  • Is there love between Ophelia and Hamlet?

  • Should the casting of Edmund and Edgar in King Lear highlight their different natures?

  • What are the themes in Romeo and Juliet?

  • What is Juliet like?

  • What is the speech 'tomorrow, tomorrow and tomorrow' about in Macbeth?

  • Why are comic relief characters, such as the porter in Macbeth, important?

  • Do you believe that the ghost of King Hamlet was actually real?

  • How and why does King Lear change and transform?

  • What significance do the mock trial and Lear dying of heartbreak have?

  • Was Hamlet a representation of the political climate at the time?

  • What are the different ways that Hamlet and Ophelia show their feelings and their "madness"?

  • Why do you think Shakespeare uses comedic characters in his tragedies?

  • Why do you think Shakespeare made the relationship between Claudius and Gertrude feel incestuous?

  • In the production of Hamlet with David Tennant, was the intention to make his costumes jar with the rest of the characters?

  • Did Shakespeare visit the places in Scotland where Macbeth was set?

  • What was the purpose of making Iago so manipulative, and how was this portrayed on stage in Shakespeare's time?

  • Why would Sampson and Gregory insult/harass Montague women when they want to stay out of trouble?

  • In Romeo and Juliet do you think that love is actually a theme, or is it just lust and power?

  • Where do you think the rivalry between the Montagues and the Capulets came from?

  • If Julius Caesar was a radio play how would you do the assassination scene?

  • Were Romeo and Juliet's deaths brought about by fate, accident or wilfulness?

  • Why would Friar Laurence marry Romeo and Juliet?

  • Which sister in King Lear is worse, Goneril or Regan?

  • Is there a comparison to be made between Hamlet and 'young' Fortinbras?

  • What inspired Shakespeare to write Macbeth?

  • Why are there so many different ways of playing Hamlet?

  • How does Queen Mab represent death?

  • When Juliet challenges social norms, was Shakespeare making a judgement?

  • How would you update the servants in Romeo and Juliet?

  • What motivates Othello to kill Desdemona?

  • What is the plot of Hamlet?

Questions about Comedies

  • How is The Merchant of Venice a comedy?

  • What do you believe is most important about A Midsummer Night's Dream?

  • Is the character of Dogberry just comic relief?

  • What started the 'merry war' between Beatrice and Benedick?

  • Would Benedick have acted on his feelings for Beatrice if left to his own devices?

  • Why must there be a marriage to make it a comedy?

  • How do you approach Claudio in Much Ado About Nothing?

  • Does Caliban in the Tempest represent the subjugated masses under colonialism?

  • Is Shakespeare writing about himself in the character Prospero?

  • Is Orsino in Twelfth Night a constant and true lover?

  • Can you tell me why you think Maria is an important character in Twelfth Night?

  • How can you give students today more insight into why The Taming of the Shrew isn’t sexist nor endorsing spousal abuse?

  • How do you tackle the ending of Measure for Measure?

  • What is the plot of Twelfth Night?

  • What do actors like to stand out in comedies?

  • How is 'Time' presented in The Winter's Tale?

  • What is the plot of A Midsummer Night's Dream?

Questions about Histories

  • If all the leading characters in Henry IV were women, would the same themes still be explored, such as honour?

  • Are the plays about kings and queens actually true?

  • Was Richard III truly villainous or pressured to 'play the role' of his deformity?

  • In Queen Margaret's monologue what does 'raught' mean?


Difficult times?
We know this is a very challenging time for everyone. If you are experiencing feelings of isolation or have other wellbeing concerns, you may find the Heads Together website helpful. Other useful sites include themix.org.uk which provides practical support to under 25’s and Young Minds.

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We prioritise the safeguarding of children and young people. For Homework Help, we have created some guidelines that can help keep children safe.

  • The questions you submit will go to the project email address, not to a named member of staff
  • The person/s accessing the email address for Homework Help are DBS checked adult/s who work in the Education Department

In submitting questions we ask that:

  • Parents or responsible adults submit the questions on behalf of young people
  • That no questions use or disclose the full name of a child
  • That no question reveals a child’s exact address, school or somewhere they go regularly (eg. a sports club or activity)