Teaching Shakespeare!

A Folger Education Blog

It's-a Me! Petruchio!

Today’s post is an extra dose of “Just for Fun.” (For those of you who aren’t sure what that is, sign up now for BardNotes: our monthly e-newsletter for educators!)

Yesterday I learned that one of the most iconic voices in entertainment for this generation got his inspiration from having played Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew:

He told me I was an Italian plumber from Brooklyn, so my instinct was to try a gruff and coarse voice – ‘hey you, get outta my face!’

What popped into my brain was a character I’d played in Taming Of The Shrew. I was Petruchio going back to get his wife in Italy, and I was a sort of ‘Mamma mia, nice ol’ Italian guy’. So I thought I’d do something like that. I went on and on about spaghetti and meatballs. After half an hour the producer said, ‘cut, stop, we’ve run out of tape!’ And he called Nintendo and said ‘I’ve found our Mario’. Mine was the only tape he sent back.

That’s right: the cheerful, bouncy voice of the Nintendo icon introduced in Super Mario 64 had been inspired by a character from Shakespeare voice actor Charles Martinet had once played.

from Mario’s Time Machine

So when you’re reading the play aloud in your classroom together, encourage the students to play, to experiment with different tones, inflections, accents – making the character something unique to them.

Playing and having fun – like when they’re playing Mario Kart at home. They have to try different tactics or turns and in doing so they create their own style. Acting is about experimenting with your voice and body to find how the character speaks through you.

BONUS: In a search for a good image, I came across this extensive list from a couple of years ago of the many ways Shakespeare has appeared in video games. Enjoy!

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