Performances of Shakespeare

799px-ShakespeareSince the end of the 16th century, thousands or perhaps millions of performances of Shakespeare’s plays have occurred. Even while Shakespeare was alive, his great plays were performed in the Blackfriars and Globe Theatres by groups like the Lord Chamberlain’s Men and King’s Men. Even after his death, Shakespeare’s plays continued to be staged until the Interregnum. During this stage in history, stage performances were banned by Puritan rulers. After the Restoration, performances of his plays began again in playhouses with scenery and other theatrical effects such as fireworks, music, thunder, lightening, wave machines, and dancing. The licensing of his plays were divided between two companies: the Duke’s Men of William Davenant and the King’s Company of Thomas Killigrew. This system of licensing plays dominated for two centuries until 1843.

Many of Shakespeare’s plays debuted on the stage of The Globe theatre in London. The building was described as a squatty, clumsy dingy building that resembled a tower more than a theatre. It appeared round, but was hexagonal in shape. The theatre was an open-roofed and open-staged theatre with a flag on top that announced when there was a performance. Even though it appeared simple, the theatre was novel in its design for having a trap door and a stage that extended into the audience. The stage was kept simple with its scenery. In fact, only a small amount of boulders, trees, tables, or chairs were provided. Instead of seeing this as a limitation, it was thought that it would increase the type of scenes that could be presented and gave unlimited opportunities for the spectators to imagine locations.

Throughout the years, the performances of Shakespeare’s plays have varied. In the 18th century, three main changes were made in his performances. One was the development of the star system which transformed production and acting. At the end of the century, the Romantic revolution reached acting as it did other forms of art. With this revolution, many of Shakespeare’s original texts were returned to the original state by editing out revisions that occurred during the Restoration.

Shakespeare’s plays dominated London stages in the 18th century. His influence spread throughout Europe even during his lifetime with versions of Hamlet being performed in Germany and elsewhere. However, it wasn’t until the next century that Shakespeare’s plays dominated German stages.

HamletIn the 19th century, theatrical scenery and theatres became even more elaborate. Performances were slowed by pauses to frequently change the scenery, which in turn cut out material of his plays to keep the performances to a reasonable length. Instead of the use of a platform like in the 17th century, actors stayed behind the fourth wall behind the orchestra.

In the 20th century, Shakespeare’s performances began to feature more abstract staging. One popular form of this was Gordon Craig’s design for Hamlet which featured monochrome canvases stretched on wooden frames. These flats were aligned in different configurations to vary and demonstrate lithic structures out of supplies and methods that were common to any theatre. Also introduced in modern Shakespeare performances was the idea of having modern dress included in performances.

In the 21st century, many theatres began staging Shakespeare festivals. These are organizations that stage the works of William Shakespeare on an ongoing basis. Many of the popular festivals are in the UK, with one of the most popular being the Royal Shakespeare Company. The second is the World Shakespeare Festival in 2012 which was part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. It featured almost 70 productions involving performers from around the world. In the United States, many states have organized Shakespeare festivals with annual festivals holding a variety of performances. The term “Shakespeare festival” was most likely originated from the professional company acting in Stratford-upon-Avon in the late 19th century.

Acting Schools are the Key to Success

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Many young actors and actresses aspire to perform on Broadway or act in Hollywood’s next blockbuster movie. While these actors and actresses may possess the necessary talent, many of them haven’t honed their talent just yet. To combat this, acting schools have been established all across the globe, and one solution to this problem is to attend one of these schools to be instructed in the performing arts. If you yourself are an actor, the following article is aimed toward informing you about these schools and how you can maximize your potential to become the next Robert Redford or Meryl Streep.

The History of Acting Schools

For over a century, acting schools have been in the United States and have served to polish the talent so of actors and actresses across the country and even the world. The first of such schools was the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, which was established in 1884 in New York City, New York. However, the first school to offer a degree in the dramatic arts was the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama, which was founded in 1914. Since the establishment of these schools, many others like them have been started all across the country including the Julliard School in 1905, the Yale School of Drama in 1955, and the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University in 1965.

Since their establishment these schools have produced talents such as Kevin Spacey, Jessica Chastain, Robin Williams (Julliard); Meryl Streep, Paul Newman, Paul Giamatti (Yale); Alec Baldwin, Philip Seymour Hoffman (Tisch); Ted Danson, Zachary Quinto (Carnegie Mellon); Florence Henderson, Grace Kelly, and Robert Redford (American Academy of Dramatic Arts). This list of alumni proves that drama and acting schools are great places to enhance one’s abilities and become the best actor possible. Attending one of the many schools across the world may be the key element in taking an actor from low-budget film star to Hollywood legend.

What Do They Teach?

acting-school-class-in-sessionWith such an impressive list of alumni, you may be asking yourself: How do they do it? No, it isn’t some magic potion that turns any Joe Schmoe into the greatest actor of all time. It’s actually exactly what the name suggests—a school. The missions of these schools are all very similar: they strive to provide a quality education for musicians, actors, and dancers so that they may achieve their greatest potential.
For an aspiring actor, a new student may enroll in classes such as Dramatic Techniques or Dramatic Interpretation.

These classes aim to teach the essentials of theatre, including speech, self-awareness, improvisation, and dance. Many of these schools are structured so that each successive year builds upon the principles of the previous year and maintains the same areas of study. For example, Julliard School offers Dramatic Techniques for first, second, third, and fourth year students with each year building upon what was learned in the previous year’s studies. As the students near graduation, they begin to focus on what to do once they enter the profession and how to make the most out of each audition.

How Do I Get In?

Now that you know a little about the schools, you are probably eager to apply and begin your journey toward international stardom. However, these schools are some of the most exclusive in the world with acceptance rates rivaling those of top universities such as Julliard’s 7.3%. This acceptance rate makes it harder to get into than Princeton (7.9%), MIT (9.0%), and Dartmouth (9.8%). With the right talent, however, schools such as Julliard are guaranteed to make you the best actor you can possibly be.

The admissions process to these schools is very similar to that of a regular university. Many schools require an application, transcript, essay, letter of recommendation, and proof of English proficiency for non-native speakers. As expected, an audition is also required to fully gauge the talent of applicants, and the admissions board takes all of these factors into account when making their decision. This isn’t meant to overwhelm and frighten you, but it is a warning that you should be serious and talented when applying to drama schools.

Post-Graduation: Becoming a Movie Star

After being accepted, let’s fast forward four years to your graduation. Congratulations! You did it. You’re going to be a star. But wait, the hard part is just beginning. A degree from one of these schools does not guarantee you a job anywhere. Performing on Broadway or starring in a Hollywood movie is about as easy as it sounds. You may be extremely qualified and very talented, but you also need to nail your audition in order to gain experience.

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Don’t be too worried by that either. There are many people and businesses that are focused on turning actors into audition champions. They focus on further sharpening your talents and making sure they are exemplified during your auditions because even the most talented actor could mess up an audition if he or she was not properly prepared for what was ahead.

These teachers and classes are found all over the place, especially in large cities such as New York and Los Angeles. While attending these classes may seem like overkill with a degree already under your belt, they are still used by actors who are already in Hollywood. One such acting coach is Larry Moss. Moss has coached a wide variety of actors, including Hilary Swank, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Jim Carrey, and Jennifer Garner. This just goes to show that all actors still need coaching, and it never hurts to revisit some of the techniques and exercises that are taught early on.

Curtain Call

The information within this article proves the importance of acting schools and reveals the tremendous results actors can achieve with the right coaching and education. Whether your goal is Broadway or Hollywood, acting schools are the definite answer to your questions about making it big. Many actors and actresses across all time periods have used acting schools to enhance their abilities, and because of it, they are known as some of the best ever. So, if you’re serious about becoming an actor, consider applying to an acting school because it may just be the key to unlocking your dream.