The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0988 Friday, 30 April 2004
Date: Thursday, 29 Apr 2004 12:46:59 -0400
Subject: RE: The Tucker Method
I am very gratified to see this discussion of Patrick Tucker and the
"unrehearsed" cue-script approach to acting Shakespeare. In some circles
this approach meets with a resistance that gives way to vilification,
apparently because Tucker defends the First Folio as being not only our
most reliable text, but a text that preserves vital clues for the actors.
I was recently denounced as an "acolyte" in a "cult" of "Tuckerites" for
my belief in the validity of this approach.
I have been performing with this method since 1999 (with the New England
Shakespeare Festival) and have found it to be both eye-opening and
liberating. I carry over much of this approach even when I perform in a
traditionally rehearsed production.
I certainly understand what Carey Upton said about first attempts at
this approach being "disasters". Prior to beginning our shows NESF does
a weekend-long intensive with the cast to learn to use the performance
clues in the Folio. Without this workshop, we would experience a lot of
train wrecks. We do not do anything from the play we will perform, so we
still avoid rehearsing - but as our Artistic Director says, "unrehearsed
is not unprepared". She will then do a one-on-one text session with us,
or what Tucker calls "verse nursing". Beyond that, we rehearse only
music, dances, and fights.
Upton's point about the "profound degree of listening and focus on the
other actor" is also excellent. It is by no means an easy process to
attempt - in fact it can be terrifying - but the payoff is tremendous.
(I don't believe anyone has yet mentioned that this process also uses a
prompter, which is an essential part of the performance).
I would also like to thank Terence Hawkes for mentioning Tiffany Stern's
newest book - I was not aware it was out.
Finally if I may address Scott Sharplin's point about this method being
"counter-intuitive to any actor working in theater today" - another
excellent point, and that is precisely what makes it so terrifying to
actors. Taking away rehearsal is like taking away our safety net. But it
is in finding that Shakespeare provided the safety net in the text
itself as you speak it that makes it so exhilarating. And I have found
that audiences truly enjoy the heightened energy of these performances.
Please be aware that I do not have any desire to convince anyone that
this is the "only" or "the TRUE" way to perform Shakespeare. I do feel
that Tucker is very much onto something - and that at least
experimenting with this method opens wonderful new doors in performance.
I would be more than happy to correspond with anyone who would like to
know more or ask questions about this method, either through SHAKSPER or
Kim H. Carrell
New England Shakespeare Festival
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