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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: June ::
News Release: The Working Shakespeare Library
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0595  Monday, 26 June 2006

From: 		R. Dekker Dreyer <
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Date: 		Sunday, 25 Jun 2006 16:17:23 -0400
Subject: 	News Release: The Working Shakespeare Library

THE WORKING ARTS LIBRARY NEWS
Jeremy Irons Hosts Five-Part Working Shakespeare Educational DVD Series 
of Historic Shakespeare Workshops
Conducted by the Royal Shakespeare Company's Legendary Voice and Speech 
Teacher Cicely Berry
Contact: Kay Radtke, Phone: 212-575-9265 ext 202, e-mail: 

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FIVE DVD SERIES  RELEASE ON JUNE 30 IN U.S.

Twenty actors from both sides of the Atlantic, most of whom had never 
met before, convened in New York for three days of intensive Shakespeare 
training workshops. The group, which included Emily Watson, Helen Hunt, 
Samuel L. Jackson, Victor Garber, Blythe Danner, Lindsay Duncan, Toby 
Stephens, Claire Danes, Cherry Jones, Tony Goldwyn, and Robert Sean 
Leonard, didn't sign up to demonstrate "how to" perform Shakespeare for 
the general edification of the theatre-going public. Their reason for 
attending these master classes was entirely selfish. They flew in from 
Hollywood and London for the chance to study with the Royal Shakespeare 
Company's legendary voice and speech teacher, Cicely Berry, the subject 
of the PBS documentary Where Words Prevail.
A five-part educational video series for students of literature, speech, 
and theatre arts, WORKING SHAKESPEARE, is the record of these historic 
instructional workshops of major British and American actors together 
delving into the structure, imagery, meaning and power of Shakespeare's 
language. Jeremy Irons introduces each program and describes its 
educational themes and instructional purposes. Irons urges actors, 
students, and fans of Shakespeare everywhere to pay heed to the lively 
proceedings to enhance their fluency and ultimately enjoyment of 
Shakespeare.
Cicely Berry's workshops do nothing to enshrine Shakespeare. Nobody 
learns "the right way" to perform him. If anything, Berry and her 
associate, Andrew Wade, set out to disturb whatever complacency or sense 
of rightness her acting students may harbor. The audience sees the 
actors burrowing with their whole bodies, minds and imaginations into 
Shakespeare's most beloved speeches, scenes and sonnets, often to emerge 
with a resoundingly fresh grasp of the work. And, of course, it is the 
high risk factor for participant and teacher that fuels the programs 
with such high octane energy.

Among the subjects Ms. Berry takes up with her stellar cast of actors 
are the fundamentals of meter and rhythm and how they inform character, 
the structure of speech, how imagery shapes action and character, how 
vowels convey emotion, humor through rhythm and underplay, and how sound 
and meaning are linked to feeling. The actors share their questions and 
ideas in discussions throughout the workshops about the exercises, the 
texts, the roles they play, and their experiences in bringing 
Shakespeare to life. Andrew Wade's Voice Preparation Workshop offers 
direct stimulating guidance for actors at all levels who wish to realize 
their vocal potential. The five-DVD set also includes two workbooks that 
break down and expand on the subjects covered on screen. The workshops 
are also available as individual DVD editions.

"We assume," says Berry "that a sophisticated intellectual background is 
required to grapple with Shakespeare on stage.  But there is a much 
deeper, almost primal response-as available to inner city English 
students as to their counterparts in private school-the sound and rhythm 
in Shakespeare's language which arouses our emotions-feelings of anger 
and sorrow, of passion and laughter. How do performers excite the 
audience with Shakespeare's rich imagery and dynamic rhythm and yet make 
it real for the twenty-first century? Our bodies and minds shall answer 
that question."
"Aside from our educational aims, it was a way of testing the primal 
hypothesis," said Executive Producer Glenn Young, "that Americans have a 
genetic deficiency when it comes to performing Shakespeare, that we are 
doomed to mutter four letter words in contemporary plays, while our 
British cousins control classical discourse on stage. Of course, you 
don't root for Americans or Brits; you root for courage and truthfulness."

"Take your liberty!" Cicely exhorts her star students before beginning 
their first acting lesson.  The result is an ebullient collision of 
intellectual longing, vocal experiment and visceral liberation.
You are encouraged to preview each of the five educational workshops at 
the Working Arts Library website at www.workingartsvideo.com. Photo 
stills and video clips may be obtained to illustrate reviews and 
features. (For media contemplating a review who may require more 
extensive samples, please contact Kay Radtke at 
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 )

WORKING SHAKESPEARE was directed by Tom Todoroff, edited by Stan Warnow, 
and line produced by Walter Cohen.  Casting by Olivia Harris and 
Siobbhan Bracke.

Cicely Berry's 128-page Teacher's Companion describes the mechanics of 
each performance exercise and discusses the pedagogical intention and 
instructional outcome of each.
Cicely Berry is available for interview.

WORKING SHAKESPEARE is the debut offering from THE WORKING ARTS LIBRARY, 
whose mission is to offer humanities, English literature, and theatre 
arts programs with the teaching methods and guidance of internationally 
known professionals. In September, Working Arts will launch THE 
SHAKESPEARE SESSIONS with RSC co-founder John Barton and Sir Peter Hall, 
as well as Michael Chekhov's five-hour CD Master Class, ON THEATRE AND 
THE ART OF ACTING with the acclaimed actor-director-teacher in October. 
The Working Arts Library is helmed by Applause Books founder and 
Publisher Emeritus, Glenn Young.

The Working Arts Library at Applause   19 W. 21st St, Suite 201, New 
York City 10010 Ph: 212 575 9265
www.workingartsvideo.com

R. Dekker Dreyer

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Danda Motion Pictures Ltd.
305 Madison Ave. #449
New York, NY 10165
V:(212) 465-2503
F:(212) 957-1912

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