With reference to the working practices of Steven Berkoff, Patsy Rodenburg and Frantic Assembly, can Shakespeare be as effectively performed through physical movement as it can be through spoken dialogue?
This dissertation investigates the process behind performing Shakespeare through physical movement compared to spoken text. Reflecting on the interaction between Helena and Demetrius in Act 2, Scene 1 of Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ (The Shakespeare Head Press 1994) it compares three performances: the first using only speech with no visual content, the second using physical movement with no spoken words and the third combining the two. The study argues to what extent Robert Barton’s question is valid: Shakespeare and his contemporaries wrote plays to be heard. How can these language-based masterpieces merely be seen? (Hampton and Acker 1997, p. 83). The practical aspect of this study uses the methods of Steven Berkoff and Frantic Assembly to explore the process of creating physical movement. The methods of Patsy Rodenburg are then used to examine the process of analysing and speaking text. The process of creating these performances is examined to identify which technique of performing Shakespeare is most successful. The success of each performance is measured against how well the characters emotions and thoughts and the story, including the subtext, are conveyed most coherently. This study adds to the discussion about physical movement being a valid way of performing classics, like Shakespeare. The study concludes by reflecting on the process and understanding required to create and perform Shakespeare through voice and physical movement. It finally comments on the researcher’s response to the final performance which combines both physical movement and the spoken word.