This hilarious snippet from Shakespeare Live!, organised by the Royal Shakespeare Company and screened on the BBC to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, was meant as a bit of fun. But it’s actually a really good lesson in acting.
As drama educators, we often discuss with our students the advantages of stressing certain words in order to communicate meaning. Changing the emphasis on which word or words are stressed in a line of dialogue will naturally alter the precise meaning communicated to the audience. A single line can therefore be spoken in many different ways.
And so it is with arguably literature’s most famous line:
To be, or not to be: that is the question:
I’ll be showing this to my drama students, that’s for sure!