Folger Theatre presented the first of its four matinee performances of The Comedy of Errors for students today. As we have in the past, students were invited to participate in a talk-back with the actors following the performance. One of the students asked the cast whether or not it was harder to act Shakespeare than contemporary plays. A great question. Members of the cast gave terrific answers. It is harder to act Shakespeare. The language can be more challenging, requiring more effort to get the message in the text across to an audience. But, noted one cast member, eventhough the work was written more than 400 years ago, what it says about the human spirit has remained constant. When an actor knows the intent of a line, it is easier for an audience to understand. So, the actors’ advice to the students was to “do their homework,” make sure they understand what they are saying and use their voices and their bodies to get the intent across.
So, is it harder to act Shakespeare? Is there a difference between performing Shakespeare’s plays and another playwright’s? What do you think?