Blog Archives

Laura Wayth on Shakespeare Unlimited!

Laura Wayth, author of The Shakespeare Audition, spoke with Neva Grant about her book and why Shakespeare isn’t as daunting as it may seem. Click on the link below to hear more and let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

>>LISTEN<<

00141820Classical auditions, and especially Shakespeare auditions, are a fact of any actor’s life. Theater seasons often call for them, and graduate auditions require them, but that doesn’t make them any less terrifying.

The Shakespeare Audition: How to Get Over Your Fear, Find the Right Piece, and Have a Great Audition by Laura Wayth is here to help! Whether for group auditions or graduate school, every actor needs a good classical piece in his or her arsenal. There have been many books written about acting Shakespeare, but until now there hasn’t been a concise, easy-to-access guide to assist the terrified and time-pressed actor in navigating all the aspects of a classical audition.

In 15 concise chapters, Wayth addresses subjects such as distinguishing poetry and prose in Shakespeare; finding the correct play and character; determining your character’s given circumstances; meter, inflection and images; and much more.

From overcoming the fear of acting Shakespeare to selecting the right material to tips on performing a classical piece – The Shakespeare Audition is the actor’s go-to guide to a successful and compelling audition.

Why IS Shakespeare so daunting?

The author of the book, The Shakespeare Audition, Laura Wayth has explained why some of us find Shakespeare so overwhelming. Is it the old English? The accent? Believe it or not it’s something else entirely. Read below for to find out why Laura Wayth thinks Shakespeare shouldn’t make you scared but excited.


00141820I kind of hate calling him “The Bard,” don’t you? But that’s what people often call Shakespeare. In medieval Gaelic and British culture, a bard was a professional poet employed by a patron (be it a monarch or nobleman) to write. Shakespeare is called The Bard because many people consider him the greatest poet that ever lived. And the idea that Shakespeare is first and foremost a poet is important for us to think about.

You see, the thing that probably makes you afraid of Shakespeare is the very thing that makes Shakespeare easy and fun. Shakespeare is poetry.

Although Shakespeare wrote prose, the majority of his work is in verse, aka poetry. Poetry has a specific shape and structure. Poetry has some rules governing the way it’s created. Once you learn those rules and that structure, Shakespeare begins to make perfect, exquisite sense! The rules that shape the creation of poetry give the actor a kind of roadmap to follow. Learn how to read the map, and the road to Shakespeare-land rolls out before you and your performance springs to life. Once you understand the form, you unlock the key to actor fun and freedom. I’m going to give you an idea of how to do this in a little while.

But first, let’s talk a little more about this dreaded P word—poetry. It sounds so formal, doesn’t it? It seems like something reserved for Valentine’s Day, or something archaic, ancient, and separate from our own experience. It seems fancy and formal and not how we express our truth. The biggest complaint I get from students who are new to Shakespeare when
they speak his words goes something like this: “But I just don’t feel like I’m being honest.” This is the single biggest problem actors have in approaching Shakespeare—they just don’t feel truthful speaking his words. And being truthful, after all, is the thing we actors value the most. To not feel truthful on stage is to feel fake, fraudulent, disconnected, self-conscious, and downright get-me-off-the-stage wrong.

But let’s think of it another way. Poetry isn’t our normal, everyday kind of truth. Poetry is greater than that. It offers an uplifted, larger-scale truth connected to all of humanity and to the divine. It isn’t the way we speak—it’s bigger and more powerful. So let’s think of poetry like an even greater revelation of our thoughts and of ourselves. Let’s think of it like music.

A song or a piece of instrumental music can take us to a place that is emotionally poignant and full of energy, encapsulating human experience even better than ordinary speech could. Music contains images. It is dense with a kind of information that we can understand not only on an intellectual level, but viscerally. Music can communicate what speech alone cannot. A violin can sing what someone’s heart is feeling. A driving rhythm can capture all that is raw and primitive in our individual or collective experience. A soaring line can lift us up. A minor key can bring us to a down and dark place. Poetry does this. And poetry does this because poetry is a kind of music.

Q&A with Laura Wayth

“Should I go to a school and get more training in acting, or should I just go out there and do it?” How important is training?” “Where should I go to get training?” “What is the right kind of training for me?” These are the questions every aspiring actor finds themselves asking at some point in their career. Answers to these questions and many more can be found in A Field Guide to Actor Training , a one-stop-shopping resource for student and beginning actors looking for guidance in selecting the training that is right for them. Author Laura Wayth has kindly answered some questions about the book below.

 

 Who do you think will benefit most from reading this book?Laura Wayth bio pic

I think any actor facing the big question, “What do I do now?” will be helped by this book. I think that all actors come to a cross-roads in their journey at some point- some come to it very early and some come to that cross-roads later. Many actors- both students and professional actors- have come to me knowing that they want more training but they aren’t sure what their next step is. They don’t know whether they should go to graduate school, get more studio training or just keep plugging away in the industry. I think that for every actor the right next step will be different, but I think that this book will help actors to ask themselves the right questions.

 

 What kinds of topics do you cover in this book?

I touch on most of the major acting, voice and movement methodologies being taught in training programs today. I tell a little bit about their history, gi00117162ve actors an idea of the basic principles and try to give them a taste of what it might be like to train under a given system. I think an actor who knows themselves and knows how they work and what they respond to can then say, “Ooo! This might be a tool for me” or, “I think something else might resonate with me better”.

I also talk about the value of different training routes; studio classes vs. private coaching vs. graduate training and certificate programs. I have a Q & A section in the back of the book where I asked my current and former students what questions they wanted answers to.

 

 What inspired you to write A Field Guide to Actor Training?

There was no book like this out there when I was a young actor. I had to figure everything out for myself. I did not have enough information about training and I wasn’t informed enough to make good decisions for myself. I wound up spending a lot of money on training that wasn’t right for me because I didn’t know what questions to ask. If I had read my book all of those years ago, I probably would have saved myself a whole lot of time and money.