Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 208. Wednesday, 31 March 1993.
From: Damon Tribble <
Date: Wednesday, 31 Mar 1993 11:58:44 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Shakespeare Monologues
Hi there! My name is Damon Tribble and I am located at the University of
Redlands here in sunny (lately rainy) Southern California. I begin my
first journey into the world of E-mail discussion groups with a request
for comments and advice on an audition monologue I am preparing. This is
my first experience with Shakespearean acting and my first classical
monologue, so I would appreciate any feedback you can give on the character,
the rhythm of the verse, the staging, auditioning for Shakespeare, and
Shakespearean acting in general.
The piece I am currently working on comes from King Henry the Fourth
Part I, Act I, Scene iii. In this speech, the young hothead Hotspur is
trying to explain to the king why he refused to turn over his prisoners of
war in a recent battle. Here is the piece:
(These are my own line numbers for easy reference)
1 My liege, I did deny no prisoners.
2 But I remember, when the fight was done,
3 When I was dry with rage and extreme toil,
4 Breathless and faint, leaning upon my sword,
5 Came there a certain lord, neat, and trimly drest,
6 Fresh as a bridegroom; and his chin new reapt
7 Show'd like a stubble-land at harvest-home;
8 He was perfumed like a milliner;
9 And 'twixt his finger and his thumb he held
10 A pouncet-box, which ever and anon
11 He gave his nose, and took't away again;--
12 Who therewtih angry, when it next came there,
13 Took it in snuff:--and still he smiled and talkt;
14 And as the soldiers bore dead bodies by,
15 He call'd them untaught knaves, unmannerly,
16 To bring a slovenly unhandsome corse
17 Betwixt the wind and his nobility.
18 With many holiday and lady terms
19 He questioned me; amongst the rest, demanded
20 My prisoners in your majesty's behalf.
21 I then, all smarting with my wounds being cold.
22 To be so pester'd with a popinjay,
23 Out of my grief and my impatience,
24 Answer'd neglectingly, I know not what,--
25 He should, or he should not; for he made me mad
26 To see him shine so brisk, and smell so sweet,
27 And talk so like a waiting-gentlewoman
28 Of guns and drums and wounds,--God save the mark!--
29 And telling me the sovereign'st thing on earth
30 Was parmaceti for an inward bruise;
31 And that it was great pity, so it was,
32 This villainous salt-petre should be digg'd
33 Out of the bowels of the harmless earth,
34 Which many a good tall fellow had destroy'd
35 So cowardly; and but for these vile guns,
36 He would himself have been a soldier.
37 This bald unjointed chat of his, my lord,
38 I answer'd indirectly, as I said;
39 And I beseech you, let not his report
40 Come current for an accusation
41 Betwixt my love and your high majesty.
I have noticed that lines 5, 19, 21, 25, 27, and 34 have eleven syllables
per line and lines 23, 36, and 40 have only nine per line. How does this
variance from iambic pentameter affect the rhythm of the line? In the
lines with nine beats would one say "im-pa-ti-ence" or "sol-di-er" or
"ac-cu-sa-ti-on" to make them into ten?
I am also looking for another audition piece of Shakespearean verse
which contrasts with this one. I am especially trying to avoid pieces
which are overdone. I am 21 years old, blond, and of medium height and
build. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Lastly, if anyone can suggest any good books on the subject of
Shakespearean acting please let me know.
Thank you for any advice you can offer...