Directing Shakespeare Video Podcast, Ep. 1

In this video-podcast series, I explain how, as a director, I work on a Shakespeare play before meeting with the actors. After making sure I understand what the words mean, I scan the verse lines to learn what Shakespeare is doing metrically. Then, after analyzing the text in a few other ways, I look at it from the point-of-view of an actor trained in the Stanislavski System. (See: Wikipedia entry for Stanislavski System.)

The video shows the text. I recommend that you watch it in full-screen, so that the text is easier to read. Even then, video compression may cause eye-strain after a while. So I’ve pasted the text, below. You may want to print it out, so that you can make notes on it. Or you could just leave it open in another window while watching the videos.


Part I: Introduction & What Do the Words Mean?
a. link
b. link
c. link

Part II: Scanning
a. link
b. link
c. link
d. link

Part III: Line Endings
a. link
b. link

Part IV: Making It Up As You Go Along

Part V: Rhetoric
a. link
b. link

Part VI: Parenthetical Phrases

Part VII: Intention


“Shakespeare’s Metrical Art” by George T. Wright: link

“A Handlist of Rhetorical Terms” by Richard A. Lanham: link

Online Guides to Classical Rhetoric:

“Thinking Shakespeare” by Barry Edelstein: link
(I don’t mention “Thinking Shakespeare” in the podcast, but it’s an excellent guide to Shakespeare’s language.)

“A Shakespeare Lexicon” by Alexander Schmidt:
Volume 1: link
Volume 2: link

“A Shakespeare Thesaurus” by Marvin Spevack: link

Pronouncing Shakespeare by David Crystal (about how the words were pronounced in Shakespeare’s time): link

“Pronouncing Shakespeare’s Words” by David Crystal (a pronunciation guide for contemporary productions): link

Oxford English Dictionary (hint: check ebay): link

THE SPEECH (from “Pericles,” Act I, Scene IV)

CLE. This Tharsus, o’er which I have the government,
A city on whom plenty held full hand,
For riches strew’d herself even in her streets;
Whose towers bore heads so high they kiss’d the clouds,
And strangers ne’er beheld but wond’red at;
Whose men and dames so jetted and adorn’d,
Like one another’s glass to trim them by;
Their tables were stor’d full, to glad the sight,
And not so much to feed on as delight;
All poverty was scorn’d, and pride so great,
The name of help grew odious to repeat.

DION. O, ’tis too true.

CLE. But see what heaven can do by this our change:
These mouths who, but of late, earth, sea, and air
Were all too little to content and please,
Although they gave their creatures in abundance,
As houses are defil’d for want of use,
They are now starv’d for want of exercise;
Those palates who, not yet two summers younger,
Must have inventions to delight the taste,
Would now be glad of bread and beg for it;
Those mothers who, to nousle up their babes,
Thought nought too curious, are ready now
To eat those little darlings whom they lov’d.
So sharp are hunger’s teeth, that man and wife
Draw lots who first shall die to lengthen life.
Here stands a lord, and there a lady weeping;
Here many sink, yet those which see them fall
Have scarce strength left to give them burial.
Is not this true?

DION. Our cheeks and hollow eyes do witness it.

CLE. O, let those cities that of plenty’s cup
And her prosperities so largely taste,
With their superfluous riots, hear these tears!
The misery of Tharsus may be theirs.

The text is from this online version: link

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