A New Hunger: John on Shakespeare Intensive 2014

John Hadden, We Players Associate Artist, on current 2014 Shakespeare Intensive Workshops

I’ve been here four days and so far we’ve explored some beautiful and auspicious landscapes for future plays, held auditions for about 60 new actors, worked with WE friends on the complex matter of teaching, read scenes and scholarly essays out loud while making our way through traffic from one end of town to another–and of course, dreamed our way through a dozen magnificent ideas while sifting through nuts and bolts…

And the workshops! I’ve been very privileged to teach lately in a number of classrooms and professional settings and it feels like actors across the age and experience spectrum are ready for digging deeper than usual to make the Quixotic attempt to speak the impossible truth. Why is this? Is there a new hunger in the Zeitgeist? I like to think so, and I like to think it can draw us all together. Not just us oddball theater nerds, but lots of people with all kinds of interests and backgrounds.

Two things I’ve found while seeing people work this week:

1.  Submission is sometimes more powerful, more theatrically potent, than being in charge; listening with a full visceral attention is sometimes more potent than speaking. We must insist on more from ourselves as theater makers. A scene is useless unless something actually happens between the actors. We’ve become too accustomed to faithful renderings of the text. The theater exists only as a medium of transformation–and how can we expect perception shifts in our audience if we don’t open ourselves to that possibility ourselves?

2.  Of course, speaking is important too. Two nights ago, while working with an actor on the purely formal aspects of the language and verse structure in “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow…”, I absolutely fell in love with his last go at it. I lost the strength in my knees, my feeling was so complete. What happened was that the beauty of his rendering balanced the despair of his realization–and for one moment, Macbeth was a fully human being who saw the possibilities of love and laughter that exist only in the immediate presence of the moment–and he invited us into that moment as well.

All it takes is one good moment.

Click here for more information about the current Shakespeare Intensive.