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Information Station 

Below we have compiled additional information to help you make bold, unique choices and breathe life into your monologues and speeches, with style and confidence.












Character Descriptions

Characters create...





In Commedia, Shakespeare, Restoration Comedy, Melodrama, Vaudeville, Stand Up, Sitcoms, Musicals, etc. -  DO NOT TRY TO BE FUNNY.  Characters focus on relationships.


In any relationship between characters, someone is smarter than the other, someone is more powerful than the other, someone is the leader while the other is the follower.  For example, masters and servants, husbands and wives, bosses and workers.  Status and the constant negotiations that surround status is the engine that propels action. This has been good comedy since the beginning of time!


Characters determine events and structure.

Events and structure should not dictate to characters.


  • What does your name mean and how does it add to the story?
  • What is your archetype (leading lady, ingenue, stock character, etc.)?
  • What is your Commedia character and your sitcom character?
  • What is your status (high or low)?
  • What is your character’s circumstances (private or public)?
  • What is your metaphorical character and relationship?
  • What is your character’s relationship with the other characters?
  • What part does time play with your character?
  • What is the moment before and after for your character?
  • What are your character’s external obstacles and internal obstacles?

  • What feelings does your character share, express, and experience?

  • What are your “isms?”

  • What does every character say about your character in the story?

  • What is your character’s worldview?

  • What are your character’s needs and wants?

  • What are your character’s intentions, doings, and actions?

  • What are your character’s skills (or lack of) and their flaws?

  • Is your character a hero or a non-hero?

  • Is your character the problem or the one solving the problem?

  • Is your character “normal” in a comic world or a “comic” in a normal world.

Leave no stone unturned.

What are your questions?

How do all these ingredients work with you?

* Stories are character-driven. *

You must understand your character in their totality to be authentic.

This is true for theatre, TV, and film.

First Rule:

There are no rules.

Second Rule:

“Rules don’t confine they define.” 

“Creativity is problem-solving.”

The more useful the rules we have and the more rigorously we apply them the more clearly we understand the problem we’re trying to solve and the more success we’ll have at solving it. This all starts by asking the right questions. Some people call this script analysis. I call it being an authentic artist.


Never stop asking questions - it feeds and stirs the imagination!

Third Rule:

Have fun and PLAY!


FOCUS is the specific image you see between any two pieces of punctuation. We will call this a phrase. Several phrases may or may not have the same focus.


Each focus will be a specific person, place, image or thing in which you can make a direct connection with your eyes. You inhale from this point, aim your energies at it, and direct (or fire) your specific action at this target. When the words hit, it explodes in a word picture.


This action will change or fix the receiver, place, or thing, you are talking about. Thus, you keep the audience involved through the ear of the imagination. If you are focused, they will see a movie, and be clearly involved in the performance.



“When your eyes wander your physical energies are not focused.

When your physical energies are not focused you have no breath support.

When your voice lacks resonance, your speech lacks vocal variety.

When your speech lacks vocal variety, it seems like one generalized action. When this happens, NO ONE WILL LISTEN TO YOU!”

(“No Focus” from Stephen Kaiser’s ​Mastering Shakespeare​)

DOWNSTAGE MARKERS are specific people, places, images, or things that are not on the stage, but you refer to in your text.


These must be placed on the diagonals so that they can be played out towards the audience. This way the audience can always see your eyes - the window to the soul.


Remember - the audience sees the play through your eyes. If you see the images, you will need the words. You must use your five senses when describing an image. If your words hit specific targets and complete actions, you will make the audience participate and listen.



STAGE DIRECTIONS are a gift because Shakespeare is telling you what to do.  Do what he tells you ​on​ the word, to stay in the moment.

“Do not ​saw the air to much your hand thus​, but ​use all gently​,”

“Thou hast ​hit it come sit on me​,”

“​Run ​Orlando​ run,”​

“​Farewell​ fair cruelty.”


Stage directions can also tell you what to do with the language.  These are verbal stage directions that tell you when to get louder, softer, faster, and slower.

“​Cry​ havoc!”

“Follow Faster,​ ​high​ descent.”


What are the words telling you about the music in the language?  Find specific examples in your own speech.

Folio Oddities

Interchangeable Letters:

  • I’S and J’s

    • Jove is often spelled Iove

  • U’s and V’s (sometimes W’s)

    • Love is often spelled Loue

  • S’s and F’s

    • Isabella can look like Ifabella


Word Changes:

  • Ile = I’ll

  • Do’s = Does

  • Doe = long version of Do

  • Sodaine = Sudden

  • Powre = Pour

  • Divell = Devil

  • Onelie = Only

  • Shew = Show

  • I / Aye = Yes

  • Then can = Than

  • Hast = Haste

  • Sound can = Swound / Swoon


  • To go from thee to you is a change in relationship.

  • My gracious Lord is vastly different from Sir.

  • Uncle vs. Sovereign


Physical Cues:

  • My Liege indicates a kneel

  • Farewell could indicate a hug, handshake, etc.


* Always use your common sense! *


Handles are words or sounds an actor puts in front of a line of dialogue to make it sound more “real,” “conversational,” or just as a prep to get them started. 


When put at the end of a line it can come across as the actor commenting on the character. Hence telling the audience how they should respond.

Handles ruin the original rhythm of the dialogue.


In theatre, handles lengthen the play and diminish your character. In TV and film, the writers are trained to write within a specific amount of time so that the editors can accommodate for the commercials. In film, the writers know how to write comedy, and adding or dropping a word or not following the punctuation will destroy the comedy that is written.

Common Handles:

  • Umm

  • Uhh

  • So

  • Okay

  • Yeah

  • I Mean


  • Like

  • Listen

  • Look

  • Well

  • You know

  • Sighs, sorts, chuckles, grunts, chortles, etc.

Do not compensate!

Find your intention, goal, the motor that drives you, and DO IT!

Iambic Pentameter

An iambus, iamb is one unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable.

Five iambic feet to a line of verse is iambic pentameter.

Example, Romeo and Juliet

“But soft what light through Yonder window breaks.”

UN stressed is But, stressed is soft, UN stressed is what, stressed is light…These two syllables form a metric foot.  Five iambic feet to a line of verse is iambic pentameter.

Much of Shakespeare’s verse is written in iambic pentameter as this is the closest to the natural rhythm of our English speech.


​PREFIX is an affix attached to the beginning of a word, base, or phrase, and serving to produce a derivative word or and inflectional form.


To fasten before.

EN - IN - UN

These three prefix’s Shakespeare uses to stress a word.



● “Unmitigated rancour”

○ Beatrice, Much Ado About Nothing IV ii


● “Inexplicable dumb shewes”

○ Hamlet, Hamlet III ii


● “Enforc’t thee? Art thou King and wilt be forc’t.”

○ Margaret, Henry VI PIII I i

99% of the time Shakespeare uses this technique to stress the word and make a point. If not used it will sound by the third row like mitigated, explicable or forc’t. The true meaning of the word and the rhetorical point will be lost.


How does it sound?

Does it make more sense?

It will not always scan correctly.

Shakespeare loves to break the rules!

Shall vs. Will

‘SHALL’ means that the character is speaking with absolute authority as to the outcome.


 ‘WILL’ means that the character is speaking with a submission to God’s authority, such as when we say, ‘I’ll be there tomorrow, God willing’.

Example #1, Henry V

Henry: …wilt thou have me?

Katharine: Dat as it shall please mon pere.

Henry: Nay it will please him Kate; it shall please him.

So, using our clues: Henry starts with ‘will,’ as if he were saying, ‘if all the circumstances were right, would you be willing to marry me?’ It’s asked conditionally as opposed to absolutely.


Kate surrenders all authority to her father in terms of the marriage by using ‘shall.’


Then, Henry uses ‘will’ at first, as if to say, “I have a good sense he will be moved by that decision.” Then he becomes more passionate (semi-colon), and pronounces it more certainly and absolutely by using ‘shall.’ It’s possible he moves to the ‘shall’ based on Katharine looking uncertain after his use of ‘will.’


Trust me Kate, he is going to approve! ‘Shall’ means the character is giving the greatest possible assurance…it’s like divine assurance when it’s used!

Divine Assurance:  The idea of absolute authoritative certainty behind the use of shall is a great clue to the character's confidence or intention.

Example #2, Romeo

Romeo:  ....and all these woes shall serve as sweet discourses in our time to come...

Now, if you are playing the role, there are a couple of things to think about with the use of 'shall' as opposed to 'will.' Romeo may absolutely believe what he says (of course, the character can use 'shall' and still be wrong about what's going to happen), thus the use of shall.

Or he may not be 100% certain, but Romeo uses it as a way to comfort Juliet as he says goodbye. She's worried that they won't ever see each other again. If Romeo says 'will' it leaves it up to fate and doesn't give near the comforting confidence that 'shall' does.

Example #3, Juliet

Juliet:  He shall not make me there a joyful bride.

'Shall' always has greater intensity. This is Juliet's way of saying 'absolutely not, you can bet your life on it!' We know the certainty to which she speaks about never marrying Paris because she would kill herself before that ever happened.

You vs. Thou

'YOU' is formal and supposedly done at ten feet away from the other actor.


'THOU' is informal and friendly first, and is done close or even very close to the other actor, 85%-90% of the time.


THOU can also be informal and derogatory 10% -15 % of the time. 

Example, Lady Anne


If you are Lady Anne and talking to Richard the Third, you do NOT give him the politeness of his Title, because he KILLED ALL THE MEN IN YOUR FAMILY.


Example, Benedick


In Much Ado About Nothing Benedick says, "Lady Beatrice have you wept all this while?"
He is being polite, formal, and keeping his distance.


Later in this same scene, he says, "By my sword Beatrice thou lov'st me."
He is calling her by her first name and using thou. He is being informal and friendly, wooing or pursuing Beatrice.

Look for the gear shift change when you change modes of address!

O! Thy Status Is Showing
Ranks and Titles

(from John Basil's Will Power: How to Act Shakespeare in 21 Days)

The top three of the following titles and ranks can apply to women, too.

Property in feudal society was passed down through the eldest male child in a family.  Thus, feminine ranks and titles generally indicate marital status or parentage.

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