Original Pronunciation

STA Practicum – 2015

Djerassi Artist Retreat

With Ben Crystal

Physical Exercises prep for OP (Original Pronunciation for these notes)

NEED – Tennis Balls, one for each

– Garden Center sticks (tomato plant sticks)

– He works with music (sounded “new age” to me)

Tennis Balls

– Place Ball on floor in front of you

– Massage right foot

– Awareness – notice change

– Massage Left foot

– Lay down on floor

– Awareness – notice change

– Massage under right shoulder blade (not on the bone)

– Massage under Left shoulder blade

– Other places – not on bone

– Roll up spine to standing

– Mill and Seethe with awareness

– Tossing the ball around the circle – Eye Contact, Make the Offer, toss,


o Add balls

o Reduce back to one ball

Sticks from Garden Center – partner work

– With index or middle finger

– Play, experiment in pairs

– Add Shadows (does not have to be exact mimicry – get their energy)

– A/B, B/C … tag out

– Add a third – keep shadows

– Add a forth – keep shadows


o The Witches “When shallow three meet again?”

o Lady M and Mr. M “I have done the deed.”

Sticks – individual work (experiment with broom sticks, shorter sticks)

– Balance the stick in your hand while doing your speech. Helps get actors

– Take the stick for a walk every day. (From LeCoque)

who are stuck in a pattern get out of it.

o Move to walking the stick across the floor in your scene

o Can hand off sticks as part of handing off dialogue



Origins – his desire to bring Complicite (movement good, verse less good) with RSC

(good verse, but no one moving).

They always use Cue Scripts – to get the dynamics

They are testing the 24 hours cue script rehearsal.

Yes, can learn a script in one week. Works with an ensemble.

He doesn’t “block”. Does explain the physical dynamics of the space.

Usually wear their own clothes. Don’t use many props.

If not doing O.P., use their own accents.



E.g. from Laertes/Hamlet scene at Ophelia’s grave

– Typed out script with missing beats marked (x\x\)

– Explored overlap: the gaps in Hamlet’s “Thou part’st not well,” speech are

– In MacB, put the Malcolm/Donalbain scene on the other side of the stage,

where the interjections from Claudius, Lords, Gertrude, Horatio.

and intersperse the lines in the “gaps” of the other lines.

Springboard Shakespeare (his book)

Exploration started in London at Shakespeare’s globe with R&J in 2010

OP engages the lower part of the voice – center moves to belly (esp. compared with

RP which engages higher part of voice, at throat)

Opens up new (and more appropriate) colors for the words.

– E.g. “war” really sounds like war (versus in RP)

(Only 2% of the population in England actually speaks RP. 2/3 of the sonnets don’t

rhyme in RP)

DATA from:

1 – looking at rhymes

2 – looking at Folio spellings

3- there were early linguists of the time, and they wrote books!


Hour pronounced “or” … whore. Gave example of Jacques speech. OP reveals sex

joke in “from hour to hour we ripe and ripe from hour to hour we rot and rot” (use

“whore” for “hour”)… then it’s funny.

Shakespeare’s Company = great book.

Accents were changing during Shakespeare’s life. So a word in an early play will be

pronounced differently in a mid-career play, and differently again at the end. E.g.

was information (note “s” sound in early pronunciation)

Idea: older characters using the older pronunciation (in R&J?)

Dropping H’s: educated characters would be literate, have seen the H, and therefore

use it. Illiterate characters would drop the H’s.

Ben suggests that there were regional accents all over, and people were not mocked

for their accents, (yes mocked for their dress) as evidenced in the plays.

Exercise with the handout. IPA for vowel shifts. Practice on Sonnet 116.


His company has found that people do understand it. Not a problem with


R&J in OP was 10 minutes faster than in RP (experiment with RSC Tim Carroll

production). Find that the language moves better in OP than in RP.

Experimenting with OP at Nevada. Used students with a few older community

actors. 3 weeks. Did the stick work. Build ensemble for a week. Stick work to find

dynamic action, relationship. Add text late in process, but it works.

Since he works with an ensemble, the actors are very skilled. He acts in the


Nevada – Actors had one month without him. Arrived off book when he arrived.

Cicily Berry resistance exercises with the sonnets, to get emotional height that the

sonnets demand. Gets the relationships so damn clear.

The stick work – essentially have rehearsed the play, but without the text. They had

met with him and studied the OP and the text, but then went to stick work, then

added text back. Starting to find that actors will leave their tricks behind now, even

with the shortened rehearsal time, just doing text together 3 times(?) Now getting

beyond the “blind fear”.

Gets in the body.

Warren “It’s great – when you trust it.”

He gives actors his cut script. They make their own cue scripts from the book.

Gets it there within a day.

– first time thru is the “cluster-fuck” – it’s a mess

– second time thru the stagecraft is gone

– third time thru it’s wonderful

No much evidence available regarding “inflection” of the period.

Re: multiple performances, changes over time? He has not experimented much with

that. His exploration has been with shorter runs.

Attempt to do things “like” Shakespeare’s company might have done it. They

wouldn’t have had long runs.

Shakespeare’s company had the advantage of rehearsing in their own space, doing

theater all day – not other jobs, audience not bombared with advertisements,

audience hungry for a play; they were probably great at memorizing.

Note Taker: Lisa Tromovitch


Emotional Map (Ben Crystal, Emma Pallant, and Globe Education) – The numbers on the side represent the number of syllables in the line.


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