Diana very much appreciated Quinn’s initiative. She was not fond of the traditional raise-hand-to-speak methods that other teachers employed as she found it built soldiers, not thinkers. She very much preferred those who were not afraid to stand up and show that they wanted
to be in the classroom and that they were ready to try— And to fail. Wasn’t that one of the points of learning theatre? To learn how to fail and to learn that is isn’t a negative in the slightest, but a moment to invoke creativity. She mentally noted this courage in Quinn.
Not only did Quinn correctly recite and feed back an answer, the elite also introduced iambic pentameter to the rest of the class. Ms. Lawson had absolutely no qualms with students teaching other students and taking over. Leadership in students was admirable. Besides a small “absolutely correct” regarding the iambic pentameter comment, Diana kept her mouth shut, giving Quinn and Alice a moment to discuss the meaning of the line. In that very moment, pride overwhelmed her for a moment as her students were already taking off and discussing things with one another.
Once they had finished, she would remove her hands from her hips, giving them both a very impressed nod. “Either of those answers would have gotten you both a 90% grade on a paper. That’s the glory of Shakespeare, it’s really up to interpretation, and that’s what makes each actor unique; Different interpretations.” She would turn to Alice specifically, giving her a bit of a smirk as thanks for her initiative as well in discussion.
“If, at any point, you guys want to take over from me and discuss material, scripts, anything, I encourage speculation and discussion. I won’t interrupt it unless I need to move on with the course load for the day—
But, yes. You’re right, Quinn. This is an example of iambic pentameter. Iambic pentameter, for those of you who are new to it, is like a heartbeat that emphasizes every other syllable in a line.”
She turned to the blackboard again, chalk in hand. “When actors mark it on their page, they typically do so like this.”
IF MUSIC BE THE FOOD OF LOVE, PLAY ON.
“Now,” Diana started, “If you are paying attention, you’ll know that iambic pentameter tells you, often, what words are most important. But, if you are a perceptive student, you’ll realize here that Shakespeare is quite literally telling you how to read his works.. You see, Shakespearean plays were not meant to be read, but to be spoken.”
Placing the chalk against the metal side of the board, Diana would turn back to the class. Once facing them, she would actually perform the line for them, as an example of what she expected for the future. “If music, she began, emphasizing the use of “muse” in the word, as if she was ripe with it; “Be the food of love” be was spoken as if she wasn't sure whether or not to believe it to be, but so desperately hoped it was, food was said as if the word itself could fill her up while girlish excitement lingered on the word love, almost sing-songy— Every letter of it, delicious; “Play on.” As if begging the musician to continue, Diana worked to convey the meaning behind each emphasized word.
The words she spoke weren’t purposefully emphasized. In fact, it sounded like she was just passionately speaking.
“Now,” she dusted herself off, “It’s more than alright to be a little “shmackty” with Shakespeare’s works. These days, it’s almost like a foreign language, so it’s vital to remember the emotion and to convey that. It’s alright not to be subtle in Shakespeare.
So, not only does he tell you what words he finds important, he also tells you their social staus, if they are emotionally charged, and even if there is an unmarked pause. Most Shakespearean monologues have 10 beats per line. That is the norm. If it goes over 10, they are very emotionally charged. If it is under, they are either cut off or the character takes a pause somewhere. Shakespeare also uses iambic pentameter primarily for royals or for anyone addressing royals. For commoners it’s usually written more loosely, like modern day scripts.”
She exhaled, having poured out all that information so quickly.
“There’s more regarding semicolons, periods, commas, and all that jazz… But that is for a later class. For now,” Diana placed the papers on the floor, spreading them out messily.
“I’d like everyone to select one monologue from the pile here and read out a few lines so we can all get a feel of iambic pentameter, and to hear it the way Shakespeare meant for it to be heard. In doing so, please note anything of interest, any special meanings, or any extra beats. If there are none, just presenting it is perfectly good enough. Oh— And remember, a sentence does not end at the end of a line. It ends at the period and words should be spoken fluidly between lines, like you were speaking to someone naturally.”