Nick Hern Books
RRP: 8.99 each
ISBN: 9781848420052 / 9781848420078
Review: Rod Dungate 17 August, 2009

For info and purchase:

A duo of dual purpose books.
Anyone who works with acting students knows the frantic rush at certain times of the year to find audition speeches – whether they are for audition for drama school or for ‘showcases’ or for . . . well, auditions. These two books are extremely useful resources to help both teachers and students.

Luke Dixon has compiled these collections of Shakespeare speeches; the selection is broad so there’s something for everyone. Each monologue is paired with helpful notes giving the context and useful thinking and research pointers. However, Dixon’s aim is to guide study, not short-cut it; in his introduction he clearly tells actors that they MUST read the whole play to support their work on their chosen speech.

Dixon’s introduction is thought-provoking as well as informative. He points out, for instance, that speeches can come in and go out of fashion. Helpful. Never the less, I would personally, encourage auditionees to steer clear of such monologues as ‘The quality of mercy is not strained . . . ‘ or ‘Is this a dagger I see before me . . . ‘

The two books contain, together, 100 speeches; among these are some that wouldn’t come readily to mind. Cleopatra’s speech to Charmian: ‘O Charmian, / Where think’st thou he is now? . . . ‘ is a case in point – and although Cleopatra is older you can imagine a younger actor ‘making this her own.’ Caliban’s: ‘All the infections that the sun sucks up . . .‘ would be an intriguing choice of a young man – and full of physical and emotional possibilities.

Within the classroom or workshop I’m a great believer in students tackling the most famous sections from the theatre cannon – whether it’s from The Cherry Orchard, Vittoria from The White Devil or Lear’s: ‘Howl, howl, howl, howl.‘ So here’s the use of this collection beyond auditioning. Here, replete with helpful notes, is a comprehensive and easily accessible collection of big moments for students to explore, practise and surmount.

Here are links to Amazon for the books.

2009-08-17 12:31:54

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