What do the Dead Sea Scrolls and frog overlays have to do with performing Shakespeare? They're both part of Louis Fantasia's approach in Instant Shakespeare. Mr. Fantasia, the first American to direct at the Shakespeare Globe Centre and a distinguished member of the international theatre community, has developed a pragmatic and uniquely American performance technique. Expanded and refined in performances and workshops throughout the world, Instant Shakespeare allows performers, directors, and teachers of all cultures and levels of experience to demystify Shakespeare and perform his texts in ways that are clear, fresh, and unpretentious. Mr. Fantasia's methods are solidly grounded in a rigorous analysis of the text and structure of Shakespeare's plays, and enriched by his insight into Elizabethan performance practices gleaned from his intimate association with the reconstruction of the Globe. Through Instant Shakespeare, novices and professionals alike achieve the textual clarity, nuanced characters, and dynamic actions that drive the most vigorous Shakespearean performances. Mr. Fantasia's respectful but irreverent approach pinpoints the shortcomings of contemporary Shakespeare practice and training, particularly generic and postmodern interpretations, and confronts theatre artists with the importance of conscious personal responsibility for the creative process. Employing analogies from music and architecture, he insists upon the hard and sometimes tedious work that necessarily underlies solid artistic choices. Mr. Fantasia shows how to understand Shakespeare's vocabulary as well as the structure and essential dramatic event of each play. He provides exercise monologues, exercise scenes, and tools for textual analysis; explains correct breathing; and lays out his philosophies of training and performance.
Louis Fantasia is the director of the Shakespeare Globe Centre's Teaching Shakespeare Through Performance Institute. For ten years he directed the Globe's acting and directing workshop in London, and he has mounted productions at a variety of international festivals and at theatres in England, Europe, Japan, Australia, and across the United States. He lives in Los Angeles.
Part 1 Prelude: Banging at Swords 3 Part 2 Introduction: The Absence of Presence 11 Part 3 PART ONE: PRE-PERFORMANCE— INSTANT SHAKESPEARE! Chapter 4 Know What the Words Really Mean— Dialogue 19 Chapter 5 The Histrionic Sensibility 39 Chapter 6 Whose Frog is it Anyway? 44 Chapter 7 Excercise Monologues 47 Chapter 9 Know the Rhythm and Sense of the Line— Character 63 Chapter 10 Know What the Play is About— The Central Event 78 Part 11 Interlude: More Banging at Swords: Encounters at Shakespeare's Globe, 1981-1997 95 Part 12 PART TWO: ASPECTS OF PERFORMANCE Chapter 13 Transitions from reading to Performance 107 Chapter 14 Scenes for Excercises 113 Chapter 15 Aspects of Performance: Breath and Impulse 120 Chapter 16 Aspects of Performance: A Practical Study of the Breath 128 Chapter 17 Isabella's Voice 142 Chapter 18 The Ephemeral Nature of the Theatrical Event 154 Chapter 19 A Philosophy of Training and Performance 161 Chapter 20 Presence and the Ontological Sensibility 172 Part 21 Epilogue: Still Banging at Swords— Optional Authenticity and Shakespeare's Globe, 1997-2001 187 Part 22 Acknowledgments 197 Part 23 A Note on Sources 199 Part 24 Index 203